The rugged and remote Orkneys

Usually found leading Ramblers tours, participating as a client on one of Ramblers Worldwide Holidays was a real treat for Sue Brown, when she was the one being looked after for a change when she re-visited the Orkney Islands.

Signing up for and travelling to a birdwatching tour on the Orkneys this May was something I was really looking forward to. The familiar anxiety set in just before I arrived at Edinburgh Airport for the flight to Kirkwall. Who else would be on this trip? Would they be kindred spirits, would we all get on? Spotting the familiar luggage labels gave the game away and our leader, Jacky, identified herself as we waited for the flight. I hadn’t bargained for an all-female tour (and nor had anyone else) but as we relaxed into the week’s activities, the laughter became louder and the stories (as usual) of people’s incredible lives began to unfold.

We were keen to tick off the birds we spotted, (thanks to Jacky, who stalwartly carried the heavy telescope to enable us to see the species in more detail), we marvelled at the remains of dwellings of prehistoric times, trod in the footsteps of Norse invaders and travelled to distant parts of the islands to discover some very high quality craftwork from weavers to knitters and potters to painters.


The weather was “typical” Orkney, but the days of high winds and rain were quickly forgotten when the sky turned blue and the sun shone over the spectacular scenery. The ferries between the islands carried us safely to explore further afield and Hoy remains one of my favourite trips. Not only sighting the fulmars, gannets and willow warblers, but a visit to the Old Man of Hoy, brought back memories of a previous visit nearly 40 years ago.

I felt very well looked after, my travel, accommodation, entrance fees and ferry crossings were all sorted out without me having to lift a finger– bliss!

So the RWH magic weaved its way into the week, providing good company, a great programme and the extra bits that don’t appear in any brochure – the travel and discovery of somewhere that, when you leave, you want to return for more.