Discover the timeless beauty of the remote Shetland Islands on this ever-popular tour to the northernmost outpost of the UK.
Your adventure starts with a high-speed trip north to Aberdeen and a crossing to Shetland, heralding four days exploration of its rugged shorelines, windswept rolling hills and rich cultural heritage. You’ll visit the best natural and historical attractions and discover stunning rock formations, unspoiled beaches and ancient archaeological sites. There are local arts and crafts to enjoy, breath-taking landscapes and local wildlife to photograph, while tour highlights include trips to ancient Scalloway Castle, St Ninian’s Isle and Isbister, the most northerly point on Shetland accessible by coach. And when you do return to the Scottish mainland you cap this fascinating holiday with a relaxing stay at St Andrews, one of Scotland’s most historic and elegant cities, steeped in golfing lore and crammed with beautiful architecture.
London to Aberdeen
Your adventure begins in the plush First-Class lounge at London Kings Cross, for a mid-morning departure from London to Aberdeen. Travelling along the East Coast Main Line aboard the HST 125 trainset, you’ll enjoy complimentary drinks and a light lunch as the train travels north via York, Newcastle and Edinburgh. You cross the stunning Firth of Forth and Tay Bridges and arrive in Aberdeen in late afternoon, checking into your conveniently located city centre hotel. The rest of the evening will be spent at leisure in the ‘Granite City’, exploring this hub of Northeast Scotland. (L)
Steam at the Caledonian Railway and Ferry Crossing to Shetland
After breakfast, a road coach transfers you from your hotel to Brechin, home of the Caledonian Railway. A privately chartered steam train then takes you on the eight-mile round trip from Brechin to Bridge of Dun and back. Freshly prepared sandwiches and refreshments will be provided at the railway buffet. After lunch you return to Aberdeen and visit the ‘Fitties’, a charming old fishing village nestling on the north side of the harbour. In the afternoon you return to Aberdeen and board the modern ferry for an overnight crossing to Lerwick. The ferry sails within sight of the north-eastern coast of Scotland before passing through the open North Sea. After dinner you retire to your private cabin for the night. (B L D)
Tour of the Central Shetland Mainland; Scallaway Castle and Museum
After an all-night sail you reach Lerwick on the Shetland mainland and have breakfast on the ship before disembarking. Your tour of the Central Mainland of Shetland starts with a brief coach tour of Lerwick before heading west to Tingwall, where you’ll enjoy a guided visit to ‘Carol’s Ponies’, a local crofter who breeds Shetland ponies. Moving on, you head to the island of West Burra to view the beautiful sandy beach of Banna Minn, after which you make your way back to visit Scalloway Castle and museum. In early afternoon you have a scenic drive to Lerwick to visit the Iron Age tower ruins of the Broch of Clickimin on its outskirts. To round off a feature-packed day, you’ll visit the impressive Fort Charlotte, built between 1652-1653 during the First Anglo-Dutch War to keep the Dutch fleet at bay. In the late afternoon, you check in to your hotel and later dine there with your fellow travellers. (B D)
South Shetland Mainland
Shetland’s largest island has a size of 967 km2 (373 square miles), making it the third largest Scottish and fifth largest British island. Today you’ll explore the scenic highlights of its southern mainland. You first head for the unspoilt beaches at St Ninian’s Isle, connected to the mainland by the longest ‘tombolo’ in the UK. Look out for the seal colony on the beach as you go past. At the Croft Museum at Dunrossness you’ll experience what life was like in a 19th century croft. Continuing south to Sumburgh Head, the coach stops for you to photograph the sea birds, including puffins, nesting on the steep cliffs. You may never get so close to puffins again! In the afternoon you visit the wonderfully preserved prehistoric and Norse settlement of Jarlshof, before heading back to Lerwick. En route you’ll stop off at the Hoswick Visitor Centre in Sandwick and take in the views of the uninhabited island of Mousa, which has one of the best preserved brochs (round tower) in Shetland. In the late afternoon you return by road coach to Lerwick and dine at your hotel. (B D)
Today is dedicated to the discovery of the natural wonders of Shetland’s northern mainland. Heading north through the wild landscape, you make your way to Hellister and visit the amazing Shetland Jewellery centre, where traditional Celtic rings and pendants are crafted. You now head up to North Roe passing glorious scenery and, if conditions are amenable, you press on to Isbister, the most northerly point on Mainland accessible by coach. On the return journey you’ll visit Hillswick, where you can see the hooch kettles that were used to treat nets and sails, and then the stunning, rugged cliffs at Esha Ness. You then pay a quick visit to Tangwick Haa Museum, which preserves the history of Northmavine peninsula. There’ll be no shortage of photographic opportunities today to capture the amazing wildlife and scenery. After a very full day you return to your hotel for an evening meal. (B D)
On your last day on Shetland you explore the westernmost part of the mainland. On your journey west, you first stop at Mavis Grind for a photo stop. This is a narrow isthmus separating the North Sea from the Atlantic, just 108 ft wide at its narrowest point. Continuing on you’ll visit the visitor centre at Jamieson’s Spinning Mill at Sandness, a fantastic retail outlet for Shetland knitwear. Still further on you see the coastline at its best with views across to the island of Papa Stour. Returning to Lerwick you stop off at the scenic fishing villages of Walls and Voe, before rounding off your visit to these wonderful Isles with a visit to the awesome Shetland Museum. You’ll sail back to Aberdeen on a late afternoon departure by ferry enjoying a unique opportunity to watch Fair Isle slip by on the port side as you enjoy your evening meal. (B D)
Aberdeen to St Andrews
After your overnight crossing you arrive in Aberdeen. Following breakfast on board the ferry, your coach takes you south to Dundee for a visit to Captain Scott’s ship HMS Discovery. You will then be driven to St Andrews to drop your cases off at your hotel before enjoying free time to explore this wonderful university town. (B D)
Return to London
Your Scottish adventure concludes with a return to London, travelling First Class on an East Coast Main Line HST. You board the train at Leuchars and again travel over the Forth Bridge via Edinburgh and Newcastle southwards. Lunch will be served on the train in First Class as you travel. (B L)
All prices shown are per person.
Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner