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Ferry to/from Orkney, different companies?

Another question for my upcoming trip! I've heard the recommendation for Northlink Ferries from Scabster to Stromness because it sails past The Old Man of Hoy, which is definitely worth seeing.

But returning from Orkney, the early Northlink Ferry leaves at 6:30! The Pentland Ferry leaves at a slightly more civilized 7:45, costs less, and is a bit shorter. It would also allow us to see a different coastline.

Am I missing any reasons why I wouldn't want to get to Orkney on one ferry and return on another? We'll be less rushed now that I know we don't have make it to the 4pm sheep herding demonstration (see my earlier post).


Posted by
941 posts

Hi, Scott,

In answer to your question, there is no reason at all why you shouldn't travel on two different ferries. St. Margaret's Hope to Gills Bay is, as you said, a bit shorter.

Just make sure that you give yourselves enough time to reach St. Margaret's Hope from your lodging on Orkney.

Best wishes,

Mike (Auchterless)

p.s.: If you're going to miss the sheepdog exhibition at Leault Farms, you may want to check out the Highland Gathering calendar. If there is a Gathering going on during your time in Scotland, you could check their website to find out if sheepdog trials/herding demonstrations are part of the days events.

Posted by
5668 posts

So I would say it also depends on how you are traveling onward. The connections by train and bus might be a bit easier in Scrabster/Thurso. But if you have your own wheels, it's a lovely drive from Gills Bay south.

Posted by
82 posts

Thanks for the confirmation, Mike. We will have our eyes open for Herding Trials, too, while we're driving.

Pamela: We have a car, and returning via Gills Bay puts us closer to John O'Groats and Dunnet Head. We can check them out in the morning, then drive south. My original plan was to try to see them after driving along the north coast from Durness, then doubling back to catch the ferry to Orkney. Now that we're not on a schedule to see the dogs, it puts us on a schedule with a bit more air in it to wander. I'll miss the dogs, but I think we'll have a better day.

Posted by
5668 posts

Yep, whether you have a car or not makes all the difference. I've usually rented on Orkney and then picked up another one when I'm back in Scotland. :) Have a great visit to Orkney. It's a magical place.