Orkney and ?? in Summer 2022

Old Jan 3rd, 2022, 09:24 PM
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Orkney and ?? in Summer 2022

I'm in the very preliminary stages of planning a trip for July. The main focus of the trip is Orkney, where we will spend about 5-6 days (not counting travel to and from).

My question right now has to do with getting there and back. We will be four family members not all traveling together (two young adults, two less young adults); we will have some time on the front and back end but I am not sure yet how much (and it may be a slightly different combination of people before and after the Orkney part, but that's not really important yet). Let's say four days before, three after. So we'd get to Edinburgh on a Wednesday, we'd be in Orkney Sunday through Friday, and then we'd have to be in Edinburgh by Monday night to fly out Tuesday. I've looked at other flight options but either the connections are wonky or the expense from where we live is dramatically higher than flying to Edinburgh.

I'm thinking we really want a car while we're in Orkney, and that it would make more sense to drive and take the ferry than to fly to Kirkwall and have to rent a car there. We'll have more flexibility that way.

We have seen some of the west of Scotland including two weeks on Skye back in 2008. We haven't seen much on the east side. I've been looking at different things we might do between Edinburgh and Scrabster, and started thinking about stopping in either St. Andrews or Aberdeen for a couple of nights.

With all that in mind, I'm looking for suggestions on the before and after part. We enjoy just about everything except shopping. Light hiking, castles, museums, and whiskey would all be great. Thank you!


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Old Jan 3rd, 2022, 10:13 PM
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There is soooooo much to see between Edinburgh and Scrabster and with less only 3 full days I'd definitely want to get farther than St Andrews for the first stop. And I wouldn't spent any time in Aberdeen (I really like Aberdeen but there are more and better places to spend your time IMO)

I'll just give you a list of some of the major sites en route, with some of the best bolded. Then you can decide which ones you'd want to fit in.

• St Andrews and the East Neuk Fishing Villages

• Glamis Castle
Dunnottar Castle
• Crathes Castle
• Deeside and the Castle Trail (Fraser, Cragievar, etc)
• Huntly Castle
• Speyside/whisky distilleries (Dufftown/Grantown on Spey/etc.)
• Culloden/Clava Cairns

• Dornoch
• Dunrobin Castle

There are lots more but these are all on a semi-linear route Edinburgh > Scrabster

You might be able to fit in St Andrews/Dunnottar/Castle Trail/Dufftown/Culloden on the drive north, and then Grantown-on-Spey, and Blair Castle on the drive south
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Old Jan 3rd, 2022, 10:20 PM
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But there are lots of other options you might consider including flying in to Inverness, or flying in to Kirkwall, and/or rearranging things so Orkney is near the beginning and having a full week to drive back to Edinburgh
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Old Jan 4th, 2022, 01:42 AM
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I go to Orkney every four or years from the middle of England so I know it reasonably well. My first few times I flew in from Glasgow or Edinburgh and hired a car (many of the cars hired on the Island are perlescent and hide scratches until you take the car back so take good quality photos), if you go in bird nesting season don't be surprised if birds try to nest in your engine compartment as the islands have very few trees and hedges and so they choose what cover they can (yes I have seen a car on fire because the driver had not checked).

Recently we've taken the ferry from Aberdeen (train from Edinburgh) and from Thurso (car from down south), both work well if differently. I think there is a third ferry port but I've not used it.

Last edited by bilboburgler; Jan 4th, 2022 at 01:55 AM.
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Old Jan 4th, 2022, 05:25 AM
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Thanks so much, those are exactly the kinds of suggestions I was hoping for. I will do some more research before I ask any other questions. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction.

(Janisj, as you know our destination motivations aren't always purely logical - but I have good friends here who met as students in St. Andrews and so that is one of the few "definite" points on the itinerary.)
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Old Jan 4th, 2022, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Barbara_in_FL View Post
. . . (Janisj, as you know our destination motivations aren't always purely logical - but I have good friends here who met as students in St. Andrews and so that is one of the few "definite" points on the itinerary.)
I did bold St Andrews / Fife My comment was mostly that with just 3 days for the drive all the way to Thurso/Scabster and so much worth visiting in between you'd want to get farther than St Andrews the first night. What I really think you should consider is massaging the dates so you have more time for the drive . . . If you had say five or six full days between Edinburgh and Orkney you could do it all (well, not 'all' but an awful lot)

One way to make it work would be to fly into Inverness (States > LHR or GLA and immediately flying up to Inverness). Stay the night in Inverness, collect a car, drive up to the ferry / Orkney. Then take 5-7 days to drive back to EDI and fly home from there (or GLA) That way you could spend some time on Speyside, the Castle Trail/Deeside and in St Andrews/Fife.
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Old Jan 4th, 2022, 07:02 AM
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. . . the reason I suggested flying into I'ness rather than all the way to Kirkwall is for the rental car situation. Much easier and likely cheaper to do a one way rental from Inverness than from Orkney.
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Old Jan 4th, 2022, 04:55 PM
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I will look at all that again, Janisj. Based on the prices I can find right now, flying to Inverness is about $400 more per person than flying in and out of Edinburgh or Glasgow (the latter being the most economical but also would add slightly to the driving time).But I haven't looked at open jaw options, so I will do that. You are right about allocating more time to the drive either before or after - I'll do that as well!
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Old Jan 5th, 2022, 12:46 AM
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The Orkney flight landing is certainly one for the brave and normally gets a round of applause.
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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 05:17 PM
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The trip is taking shape. I took janisj's suggestion, in reverse - we have added a week before Orkney, so now we have six days to get from Glasgow to Inverness, where we will pick up my older son for the second week. We will all fly back out of Inverness instead of trying to get all the way back down to Glasgow or Edinburgh - that way we can leave Orkney one day and fly home the next.

Does anyone have a suggestion for where to stay the night before we fly home from Inverness?
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