Orkney? Shetlands? Hebrides?

Old Feb 9th, 2006, 12:49 PM
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Orkney? Shetlands? Hebrides?

Hmm -- looks like our summer plans must be changed, leaving us no option but August, which I think will be too hot for our first choice, Sicily.

So I thought maybe we'd return to Scotland. Last time we visited Edinburgh, Skye, Kenmore, Glen Coe and Inverarry. We're interested in prehistoric and historic ruins, walks, dramatic views, maybe a little fishing. We'd have two weeks.

Would it be feasible to visit all three places? If we had to drop one, which should it be? If we can only visit one, which then? Lastly, should we save a couple of days for Mull/Iona? Probably fly in and out of Glasgow.

Appreciate any assistance.
Old Feb 9th, 2006, 01:40 PM
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Oh, Gee, that's a toughie.

You could probably do a decent amount of damage to all three if you travel the way most (American) Fodorites do.

But I'd either do Orkney and Shetland (probably 9 or 10 days in Orkney and the rest in Shetland); or the Hebrides, with a week for the Inner and a week for the Outer.
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Old Feb 9th, 2006, 02:27 PM
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For prehistoric stuff, I'd have to say that Orkney is unmissable. If you have enough time, you could go to some of the smaller islands there, but if not even Mainland (i.e., the main island of Orkney) has loads to see--not just Maes Howe and Skara Brae. But, for the most part, I don't know that Mainland views are "dramatic." Atmospheric, yes, but on the flattish, bareish side. There's more drama in the Hebrides.
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Old Feb 9th, 2006, 03:53 PM
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As sheila says very tough one.

I love Shetland and prefer it to Orkney. I always feel that Shetland is a country in its own right because it is so different to anywhere else, whereas Orkney feels more like a detached part of Scotland. Scenically I also think Shetland has the edge of the two. However in terms of monuments Orkney has a lot more to offer than Shetland (although Jarlshof is superb). In Orkney on Mainland both Maes Howe and Skara Brae are musts, and I would strongly recommend spending a day on Rousay which has an incredible range of ancient monuments in close proximity. Ferries between islands in Shetland are more convenient/frequent and cheaper than Orkney so driving in Shetland is relatively easy. Given that Orkney and Shetland are next to each other (relatively speaking) getting between the two will be easier than one of them and the Hebrides.

I also love the Western Isles (Outer Hebrides), especially Harris. Scenically they are all good and have more impressive and a greater range of scenery than either Orkney or Shetland. However they have much less to offer in the way of monuments than Orkney. If you go there consider driving through Skye and getting the ferry to Uig, it runs alternate services to Tarbert in Harris and Lochmaddy in North Uist. Go to one 'end' of the Western Isles, do that end then take the Sound of Harris ferry to the other end and back to Uig from there (or back to Oban from Lochboisdale, but quite slow).

I would suggest the choice is Orkney/Shetland or Hebrides. Trying to do just one of the Northern Isles groups plus the Hebrides would probably present transport difficulties (although Orkney then a drive round NW Scotland to Ullapool for the Stornoway ferry would be possible).

To sum up. I would suggest Hebrides for scenery, Orkney for archaeology, Shetland for something different.

These may be of interest:


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Old Feb 9th, 2006, 06:36 PM
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Thanks all. I'll check the guidebooks with your advice in mind.
Old Feb 9th, 2006, 11:38 PM
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After thte nput of m'learned friends I do feel the need to add more.

For your historic and prehistoric ruins, there's probably nowhere in the UK, not even Salisbury Plain, to beat Orkney.

I know little about Shetland- it's been on my list for ages but it's soooo expensive to get there.

But there are lots of ruins in the the Hebrides too. Staring in the south- and this is just teh stuff I know; there will the heaps more- on Islay you have Finlaggan, Dunyvaig, the Kildalton Cross and Chapel, the Kilchairan Chapel, standing stone, hut circles, chambered cairns; on Oransay the Priory and the scultured slabs, on Mull, 3 castles, on Iona, the Abbey and more sculptured slabs; on the Uists, the cairn at Lamlash, and Callanish on Lewis.

Walks- any of them would be super

Dramatic views- ditto

Fishing Orkney and the Uists I'd have thought were vying for a top slot.

Not a massive fan of Mull, but Iona's worth the detour
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