The Orkney and Shetland Islands
April to May 2019

After touring Scotland and then the Inner and Outer Hebrides, it was obvious that that we should visit the more northerly isles of Orkney and Shetland. What time of year would be the best? Summer when the weather is warmer and the days long? - but that's when the islands are crowded with people and midges and the air is hazy (not good for photography). What about spring? - weather is colder, days are shorter (well... 17 hours of sunlight at 60° North), there's more wildlife and no midges. So May it was and off we went.

We decided to fly Air New Zealand, so that meant going through LAX - again. The suggestions that there had been an improvement in the treatment of transit passengers proved false. It again took us 2 hours from disembarking to getting back to the departure lounge. The border control queues were horrendous and the officious people directing poor travellers from one queue to the next only succeeded in slowing everybody down. We were moved from one queue to the next, this resulted in us being the first off the plane and one of the last back on again. Only in America. But the immigration queue at Heathrow wasn't much quicker - 100 minutes from plane to entry into the UK. But no shouting, demanding officials, hand on gun telling you which queue you MUST get into. Just a single long queue of quiet, resigned travellers. But good news - we can use our e-passport at Heathrow next time!!

Once into the UK, we picked up the rental car and headed north, missed the exit from the M4 to the M25 so had to turn around and try again. With no other mishaps we arrived in Sheffield at 5.30 pm, had some dinner and an early night. Tomorrow our holiday would begin.

Paul and Colma, June 2019

Our Itinerary

Day Date Event
Day 1 Thursday 25 April 2019 Flew Auckland to Heathrow via Los Angeles.
Day 2 Friday 26 April 2019 Arrived Heathrow, picked up rental car and drove north to Sheffield and Rotherham
Day 3 Saturday 27 April 2019 A look around Rotherham where several Froggatt familes lived in the past.
Day 4 Sunday 28 April 2019 A nice day so we drove into the Peak District for lunch at Chequers Inn, Froggatt Edge.
Day 5 Monday 29 April 2019 A long drive from Rotherham to Newtonmore in the Highlands of Scotland.
Day 6 Tuesday 30 April 2019 Highland Animal Park - the drive-through zoo with Hamish the polar bear cub.
Day 7 Wednesday 1 May 2019 Part of the NC500 - Fort William to Bealach na Ba and Applecross and on to Lairg.
Day 8 Thursday 2 May 2019 Lairg to the north coast, Smoo Cave and on to Thurso.
Day 9 Friday 3 May 2019 Ferry from Scrabster to Stromness on Orkney: visit to Scara Brae.
Day 10 Saturday 4 May 2019 Orkney - south onto South Ronaldsay and Tomb of the Eagles.
Day 11 Sunday 5 May 2019 Orkney - Italian Chapel, Maeshowe and the Standing Stones of Brodgar.
Day 12 Monday 6 May 2019 Orkney - a day on Rousay Island.
Day 13 Tuesday 7 May 2019 A day in Kirkwall.
Day 14 Wednesday 8 May 2019 Orkney - birds at Marwick Head.
Day 15 Thursday 9 May 2019 Ferry from Kirkwall to Westray: puffins and gannets.
Day 16 Friday 10 May 2019 Westray - Heritage Centre and the gannets again.
Day 17 Saturday 11 May 2019 Ferry from Westray back to Kirkwall, then overnight ferry to Lerwick on Shetland.
Day 18 Sunday 12 May 2019 Arrive in Lerwick on Shetland: boat trip to Mousa Island.
Day 19 Monday 13 May 2019 Shetland: Morning in Lerwick then road trip to Scalloway and Sandness.
Day 20 Tuesday 14 May 2019 Shetland: South to Sumburgh Head, water mill and croft museum.
Day 21 Wednesday 15 May 2019 Lerwick to Yell to Unst by road and ferry.
Day 22 Thursday 16 May 2019 A walk to Hermaness Head for puffins and gannets.
Day 23 Friday 17 May 2019 Back to Lerwick then overnight ferry to Aberdeen.
Day 24 Saturday 19 May 2019 Arrival in Aberdeen, drive to Dundee and a visit to RSS Discovery.
Day 25 Sunday 19 May 2019 Drive from Dundee to St Andrews via Tentsmuir Nature Reserve.
Day 26 Monday 20 May 2019 Visit to St Andrews University library then Perth and Crieff.
Day 27 Tuesday 21 May 2019 Crieff to Newcastle to meet a distant cousin.
Day 28 Wednesday 22 May 2019 Drive south to Froggatt Edge.
Day 29 Thursday 23 May 2019 Drive to Heathrow, drop rental car and fly home.
Day 30 Saturday 25 May 2019 Back home again!

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Last updated: 27/05/2019