Scotland's Far North - The Castle of Mey, John O'Groats & Orkney Islands

7th - 14th May 2021

Our tour to Scotland this year is a major change from the last couple of years, as we travel almost as far North as it is possible to drive. After an overnight stop in Gretna Green we continue our journey up through the very heart of Scotland to the North Coast and the Norseman Hotel, located overlooking the River Wick in the small picturesque Viking town of Wick.

Our first excursion will be a visit to the Castle of Mey, the most northerly inhabit-ed castle in Scotland, which was the beloved home of the Queen Mother and has been kept just as it was when she was alive. You will have time to explore the castle and gardens and to enjoy the views over the Pentland Firth and the Orkney Islands. The gardens consist of the Walled Garden, the East Garden and a woodland area -with the overall design remaining much as it was in The Queen Mother's time. The East Garden is dissected by Fuchsia hedges for shelter. The individual sections are planted with woodland plants such as Primulla, Meconopsis, Astilbes, Hellebores, Hostas, Ferns and Foxgloves.

In the afternoon, we will spend some time in John O’Groats and also visit nearby Duncansby Head which, despite claims by it’s better known neighbour, is actually the furthest point from Land’s End and the real North Eastern tip of the country.

We will also have a full day excursion to the Orkney Islands. After a 40 minute sailing across the famous Pentland Firth we will board a local coach. We start with a drive across the Churchill Barriers, built in the 1940s and which thread five is-lands together to form the eastern boundary of Scapa Flow. There will be a stop in Kirkwall, the capital city of Orkney, before we continue along the northern coast of Scapa Flow with beautiful views of the Hoy hills across the water to Stromness, surely one of Britain's most picturesque towns, where you will have some free time for lunch.

We then travel on to the Neolithic village of Skara Brae. Having been hidden un-der sand dunes for thousands of years and only rediscovered 100 years ago, it is older than the pyramids and perfectly preserved. (entry fee not included) . Our route then takes us onto a narrow tongue of land between the lochs of Harray and Stenness with a photo stop at the mystical Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness. On our return to Burwick we will stop at the Italian Chapel (entry not included) .

Our final excursion will be a tour of Caithness. Caithness is like an island, and has a character that is distinct and unique to itself, and is accessed by the A9 as it squeezes its way north between the encroaching mountains and the sea. The tour includes a visit to Dunnett Head, reached along a single track road taking you to the mainland's most northerly point, and offers magnificent views north to Orkney and along much of Scotland's north coast. We will stop for some lunch in Thurso, Scot-land's most northerly town and home to the country's most northerly railway station. We will also make a stop at the Grey Cairns of Camster, two of the best preserved Neolithic chambered cairns, or burial monuments, in Britain.

You will also have a free day to explore Wick, which was for nearly 500 years the administrative centre of Caithness. Visit the Heritage Museum, The Poultney Distillery, the Floral Clock or perhaps walk the full length of Ebenezer Place, which appears in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's shortest street at 2.06m or 6ft 9in in length.

Tour price includes:-

Deposit £50 per person

Your Hotel - The Norseman Hotel, Wick
Positioned on the north coast of Scotland, the Norseman offers visitors the chance to witness this untouched paradise, with miles of white sandy beaches contrasting with the craggy headlands and the dramatic cliffs. All bedrooms are tastefully decorated and are ensuite with a shower/bath, direct dial tele-phone, TV with Freeview, Wi-Fi and heated towel rail. There is no lift, but plenty of ground floor rooms.

Your Overnight Hotels

The Gretna Hall Hotel - Located in 10 acres of landscaped gardens within the village of Gretna Green, and next to the Blacksmith's Courtyard the hotel offers ensuite rooms that feature tea/coffee facilities, a TV and free toiletries.

The Holiday Inn Hotel , Dumfries - located on the outskirts of Dumfries, the airy modern rooms have free Wi-Fi, power showers, complimentary tea/coffee facilities and a flat screen TV.