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Shetland after Orkney?

I'm planning our June 2022 trip and the first two weeks (after a week in Ireland) will include three nights in Kirkwall. I'm thinking about adding another 3-4 days at the end, after our travel partners leave us, to visit the Shetlands. After three weeks away from home, will we find Shetland different enough from Orkney to make the visit worth it? I'm already thinking of a 2023-2024 trip to pick up Islay, Lewis/Harris, and Aberdeen which we'll also skip on this trip. Adding Shetland to that trip might make more sense.

I can just see my wife missing the dogs after three weeks.

The current plan is
Glasgow - 1 night
Oban - 2 nights
Skye - 3 nights
Fort William - 1 night
Kirkwall - 3 nights
Inverness - 2 nights
Edinburgh - 2 nights
maybe Lerwick - 3 nights

Posted by
228 posts

Very much - they are a lot wilder for a start and don't have as many prehistoric remains. The scenery is dramatic. In fact, I prefer them to Orkney..

Posted by
228 posts

I should also add, the culture is Norse - they are closer to Norway than Scotland.

Posted by
3192 posts

Not sure why you are going to Ft William between Skye and Kirkwall. Why not stay along the route?

Posted by
99 posts

Fort William is to include Glencoe, Steall Falls, etc. The reason it's after Portree is to include the Saturday Parkrun. If our itinerary shifts a day, we'll stop there after Oban, which is the more logical sequence. Thanks for the slap on the forehead.

Posted by
3192 posts

I would try to fit in Glencoe (a hike and look around) between Glasgow and Oban then. It's a 30 minute busy drive one way between Ft William and Glencoe, and the highlands coming down to Glencoe from the south are the highlight, another 15 minutes.

Posted by
2639 posts

Shetland and Orkney are plagued in the summer months by midges, a small biting insect.
(June, July, August being the worst time for them.)
They nest in moist grass and come swarming out in big clouds when you walk through.
They are blood suckers, like mosquitoes.

You may want to read this article. Look at the photo halfway through, of someone's leg,
covered in bites from the Midges.
https://www.highlandtitles.com/blog/midges/
From the above article:
"Without the midge, Scotland would not be the same. Midges are one of the reasons for the relatively low population of the Scottish Highlands, and help keep the wildernesses wild. They help to keep large areas freer of human interference than they may otherwise have been."

They mention that using Skin So Soft will help, but we DOUBT this, as it has NOT worked to
keep mosquitoes off of us here when we are hiking or walking outdoors in the summer.
Shetland and Orkney are best done during the cooler months.
If you don't like bug bites, you may not like midges.

Not discouraging you. Just warning you to be prepared and not surprised. Perhaps take a couple of cans of Deep Woods Off with you for protection. The midges will be the worst in natural areas, as you walk out to see the Neolithic stones.
Not very bad in town, such as in Lerwick.

Posted by
2639 posts

Maybe so. At least now you will be prepared for the little buggers if you do encounter them.
Lerwick is a great place to spend 3 nights at the end of your trip.
Enjoy Orkney and Shetland, and the rest of your trip!

Posted by
228 posts

Anywhere in Scotland can be plagued by midges, so it is unfair to single out Orkney and Shetland. One great advantage to both Shetland and Orkney is the wind - you get fewer midges around on windy days.

Posted by
1292 posts

Re the midges, Skin So Soft does appear to work as a repellent. They tend to lurk around still water and don't travel, so if you encounter them just keep walking. They can be found anywhere in Scotland, indeed I had them at the bottom of the garden of my house in suburban Glasgow. Really annoying when getting in the washing. The midge is not to blame for Highland depopulation, that is just propaganda from the sheep.

If you can I'd definitely say visit Shetland. Please note it is Shetland, singular not plural, same for Orkney. Still trying to get there myself one day. Best time are the months around midsummer due to the length of the day light. In both Orkney and especially Shetland the nights in June and July can be incredibly short, be prepared for it to be light at 11 pm. In reverse, there is almost no daylight in winter.

However by Scottish standards it is remote. Very remote.

Posted by
5563 posts

Shetland is one of the few places left on my Scotland bucket list. I really want to visit. BTW Check out Anne Cleeves mystery books set in Shetland. I loved them. For Orkney which I have visited twice, read some George MacKay Brown. Orkney also has a strong Norse heritage as well as the neolithic heritage.

As for midges, I find them to be a combination of mosquitos and gnats. I have not tried skin so soft, but have gone straight for REI Deet based repellent. I also have a midgie hat that keeps them a way from my face. Have a light weight long sleeved shirt. I've done a lot of walking in Scotland in August, September, June and July and while its awful when the midge's appear, they don't come every day. You want a bit of wind. :)

Pam

Posted by
1292 posts

May is when the first midge (Bitey-wee-barstus scottus) come out to play, but the first out are the males that do not bite as much. It is the females that emerge from June you have to worry about.

Posted by
1292 posts

Shetland is one of the few places left on my Scotland bucket list. I really want to visit. BTW Check out Anne Cleeves mystery books set in Shetland. I loved them. For Orkney which I have visited twice, read some George MacKay Brown. Orkney also has a strong Norse heritage as well as the neolithic heritage.

It is on my bucket list as well. Though if I think of the Northern Isles, Orkney remains the one I will fall back on. If any one is on twitter the joke fight between Orkney and Shetland libraries is worth following. Eileann Siar is now trying to get a look in.

Posted by
5563 posts

Thanks MC. I need more library stuff to follow on twitter! Most of library twitter is highly research library oriented and it will be great to break out of that!