We invite you to join us for a wonderful adventure that combines hiking in spectacular locations with a wealth of fascinating history and archaeology. We meet in Aberdeen, Scotland’s “granite city,” and take the evening ferry to Kirkwall, on the main island of Orkney. Our hiking tour takes us in three minivans to outstanding sites on the mainland of Orkney and the islands of Hoy, Rousay, and Egilsay. Orkney is Europe’s premier setting of archeological sites and offers many outstanding coastal walks. Houses and tombs dating back 5000 years share the landscape with Bronze Age cemeteries, standing stones, 2000 year old brochs (forts), Viking ruins, medieval churches, and Renaissance palaces. The Vikings and Norse ruled these islands for 800 years, and their impact is still evident. Our hikes include parts of the St. Magnus Way pilgrimage, honoring this Earl of Orkney who was murdered in 1115. During our five days exploring the Orkney Islands, we will also discover glorious natural beauty, including striking geological formations, and abundant wild flowers, birds, and marine wildlife.
Midway through our program, we take an overnight ferry to Lerwick, the capitol of the Shetland Islands. Here, as on Orkney, we will be joined by a local archeologist who will accompany us as we visit Neolithic and Viking sites. We hike spectacular coastal paths and see monastic ruins, sea birds, fishing stations, and the constantly changing seascape edging dramatic cliffs, stacks, and caves. After five days exploring Shetland, we take an overnight ferry back to Aberdeen, where you can continue your adventures in Scotland or take a plane home.
We have chosen our visits and walks to showcase the varied forms of natural beauty and cultural interest to be found on Scotland’s northern islands. We visit several unique sites guaranteed to appeal to anyone who has an active curiosity about history. Many sites are “off the beaten track,” and, where they are internationally renowned, we try to see them at their quietest and best.
John and Meg will provide optional readings about the philosophy, aesthetics, literature, psychology, and pleasures of walking. John will lead discussions on pilgrimage, rituals of walking in the world’s religions, and the mixture of Pictish and Norse traditions with Christianity that shaped the history of these islands. Meg will share examples of walking as art: artworks in which walking is an integral part. She will guide the group as we collaborate on experiments in the art of walking.
See the draft Itinerary.