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Orkney Isles Photography Tour (14-20 June, 2025)


Trip at a Glance


14 June 2025 - 20 June 2025


6 nights


Orkney Isles

Start / Finishes








  • Spend seven days on location with Colin Prior
  • Enjoy access to some of the most spectacular Orcadian coastal scenery
  • Immerse yourself in a landscape rich in sea stacks, wildlife and Neolithic monuments
  • Six nights, single occupancy accommodation at The Lynnfield Hotel, Kirkwall
  • Breakfast, three course dinner and packed lunch
  • Transport to and from Inverness Station
  • All ferry crossings
  • Tutorials and critique sessions with individual feedback

Six nights, single occupancy accommodation at The Lynnfield Hotel, Kirkwall, dinner, bed and breakfast. For more information:

Food on NorthLink Ferries
Travel Insurance

Moderate - these tours involve straightforward hiking generally over good trails. Terrain underfoot is mainly on paths or hill trails which may be muddy in places. There may be a limited amount of uphill walking.

Tour Synopsis

‘The Orkney imagination is haunted by time.’ George Mackay Brown

Under the wide horizons, endless combinations of water, land, sea and sky can be experienced on the Orkney Islands, varying both with location and the weather. Movement is brought to the landscape by the almost ceaseless wind, whether the scudding of clouds, the shafts of sunlight moving across the fields and moors, the patterns on the water, or long grass blowing in the wind. The contrasts of the fertile low ground with its farms and fields and the open, uninhabited higher ground of moorland and hill are emphasised by the differing colours of the two areas – the bright greens of the farmland and the browns of the uplands.

Spectacular coastal scenery

With their towering red cliffs, the Atlantic coastline creates a spectacular scene, enhanced by the presence of the Old Man of Hoy, the highest sea stack in the British Isles. These vertical structures of red sandstone, home to numerous seabirds are both a landmark and an iconic image of the Orkney Islands, especially for those arriving by sea from across the Pentland Firth. In comparison, the sheltered waters and gentle topography of the western approaches to Scapa Flow contrast with the Atlantic-battered western seaboard.

On the island of Hoy, set at the end of a glacial valley, between towering sandstone cliffs and a rocky beach, the distinctive village of Rackwick contains stone buildings and crofts in a traditional layout and in a spectacular setting.

The stone-built settlement of Stromness, rising steeply out of its harbour, further enhances the character of the area. The town has always been dependent on the sea and maintains strong maritime links with a constant movement of boats in the harbour and the surrounding seas.

An archaeological landscape of world heritage status

The ancient monuments of central Orkney comprise the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, and have become recognisable landmarks of West Mainland and include the Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar and other standing stones composed of large flags of Devonian sandstone. Maes Howe and Unstan (Onston) cairns, in contrast, form distinctive, grass-covered low mounds in the landscape.

The images used to promote this tour were captured by Colin on previous trips and are representative of the conditions which may or may not be encountered throughout its duration - in Scotland, one must be prepared for constant change.


Day 1

Day 1: Yesnaby, Marwick Head. Following breakfast, we will drive north-west to a dramatic section of coastline at Yesnaby where sandstone cliffs, geos, sea caves and the second most spectacular sea stack on Orkney, Yesnaby Castle are found. Following lunch, we will ascend the path to Marwick Head which brings together everything that's special about Orkney - nature, wildlife, history and fantastic sea views. The sandstone cliffs here rise nearly 90m from the Atlantic, with the opportunity to see thousands of seabirds swirling in the breeze. Fulmars, guillemots, razorbills, cormorants, and kittiwakes all make these crumbling cliffs their home. Marwick Head is also an RSPB reserve. The headland is dominated by the Kitchener Memorial, built in 1926 to commemorate WWI Minister for War, Lord Kitchener. He died onboard HMS Hampshire along with 736 men when the ship hit a mine just a few miles offshore from Marwick Head on 5th June, 1916, en-route to Russia.

Day 2

Day 2: Rackwick Bay, Old Man of Hoy. A short drive along the edge of Scapa Flow takes us to Houton where we catch the ferry to the island of Hoy. The Old Man of Hoy is Britain’s tallest and probably most photographed sea stack. At 137m high and only about 30m wide at its base, this imposing obelisk has been carved from layers of Old Red Sandstone (Devonian) rocks. The cliffs form part of the RSPB reserve and provide a home to around 120,000 seabirds including populations of fulmar, great black-backed gull, and guillemot. The walk from Rackwick Bay to the Old Man takes over an hour - a distance of 2.5 miles. For those not wishing to undertake the walk, Rackwick Bay is set at the end of a glacial valley, between towering sandstone cliffs and a rocky beach open to the Atlantic Ocean. The weathered sandstone boulders offer myriad possibilities for photography. The village of Rackwick also contains stone buildings and crofts in a traditional layout and in a spectacular setting.

Day 3

Day 3: The Italian Chapel, Churchill Barriers, Windwick Bay. Following breakfast, we will drive to South Ronaldsay over the Churchill Barriers built primarily as naval defences to protect the anchorage at Scapa Flow, but since 12 May 1945, serve as road links between the islands. After visiting the Italian Chapel, we will head for Windwick Bay and follow the east-coast route which ascends the cliffs overlooking Windwick and continues to Hesta Head with views north-west to Copinsay and to Scaraben and Morvern on the mainland. During the breeding season, the cliffs are home to nesting fulmars and shags and in the autumn, geese gather in their hundreds in the hollows between hills and down by the water’s edge, seals haul out on to the rocky strands to give birth.

Day 4

Day 4: Westray; Noup Cliffs, Castle o’Burrian. Today we will take the ferry to the island of Westray which is a haven for wildlife watchers. The west side of the island is an incredible stretch of coastline featuring huge cliffs, spectacular views which are home to 60,000 common guillemot, 30,000 razorbill and large colonies of Atlantic puffin and gannets. It culminates in a visit to Noup Head and its beautiful lighthouse, perched over the Atlantic Ocean. Rising at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, it is an incredibly elemental place. In the afternoon will head to Castle o’Burrian where over 300 puffins’ nest on a squat sea stack.

Day 5

Day 5: Ring of Brodgar, Brough of Birsay. Following breakfast, we will drive to the Ring of Brodgar - the finest known truly circular late Neolithic or early Bronze Age stone ring and a later expression of the spirit which gave rise to Maeshowe, Stenness and Skara Brae. The Ring of Brodgar has never been excavated, so we don’t know its age for sure. In the absence of scientific dates, our best guess is that the main ring was constructed between 2600 and 2400 BC. The surrounding burial mounds and stone setting date from between 2500 and 1500 BC. In the afternoon, we will continue north-west to the Brough of Birsay is an uninhabited tidal island off the north-west coast of the Mainland of Orkney. The island is accessible on foot at low tide via a largely natural causeway and is separated from the mainland by a 240-metre stretch of water at high tide: The Norse settled the island 200 years later, in the 9th century, but may have lived peacefully alongside the Picts. It’s still possible to make out the remnants of Norse houses, barns and even a sauna. Later, a small church and monastery were built on Birsay.

Day 6

Day 6: The Gloup, Kirkwall. Today our walk starts at The Gloup, a collapsed sea cave in the Mull Head Nature Reserve. The name derives from the Old Norse "gluppa", meaning a chasm. The cave is separated from the sea by a land bridge about 80 metres wide. We continue over a headland that has been grazed for at over 1000 years, to a settlement on the top of a stack called The Brough of Deerness. Here lie the reconstructed remains of a Viking period stone chapel and a settlement that takes advantage of the stack's defensive and dominant position overlooking the North Sea. Following lunch, we will drive into Kirkwall to explore the town centre, and anyone interested can visit the Highland Park distillery.

Day 7

Day 7: Stromness, The Stacs of Duncansby, Inverness. An early start will take us back to the mainland at 08:00 where after a short drivewe will arrive at Duncansby Head. From here a short walk will take us down to the spectacular Stacks of Duncansby, some of the most impressive in the British Isles. These imposing pyramidal stacks have been isolated by the retreat of the cliffs where superb views can be had from the coastal path. Following lunch, we will depart for Inverness where we will arrive at Inverness Railway Station at 14:30 where the tour will conclude.

Essential Information

Lightweight boots or wellies often the terrain we cover is boggy and wellies are the best way to keep your feet dry.
Waterproof jacket and trousers
Hat for sun protection or warmth
Casual clothes for evening wear
Personal wash kit
Head torch
Midge net
Re-usable water bottle

The information below is intended simply as a guide to help you achieve the most enjoyment from this tour.

All brands of cameras and lenses do the same thing; they look outwardly into the world and record what they see on different sized sensors. What differentiates what they see is not the camera, but the person looking through the viewfinder. So, what will help you gain most from this tour is a familiarity of your own camera’s layout and menu structure. There is no shortage of tutorials on You Tube to aid you in this process and it is essential that you take the time to understand how to control the most salient features of camera.

Camera bags come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important that your bag can hold the equipment you wish to carry, comfortably, over uneven terrain and that your balance is not affected by its design, or lack of it. Backpacks distribute weight evenly between your shoulders and hips and are normally supplied with a rain cover.

Lenses are a personal choice. Many landscape photographers will choose to shoot with a 16-35 mm, 24-70 mm or a 24-105 mm lens. Shooting with zoom lenses makes a great deal of sense as it reduces the equivalent number of prime lenses that would otherwise, have to be carried. Many photographers compliment their wide-angle zooms with either a 70-200 mm or 100-400 mm lens. If you enjoy working within the landscape, a 90 mm or 100 mm Macro lens opens myriad possibilities.

Under certain circumstances, filters are indispensable. Graduated neutral density filters control contrast locally and come in a range densities and graduations. The dynamic range of modern sensors has mitigated the need to use filters on many occasions and accordingly, I carry only two – a 0.6 (2 stop) filter with a soft graduation and a polarising filter which I used judicially.

Despite, image stabilisation allowing the hand holding of cameras down to very low shutter speeds, there is still no substitute for a good tripod in landscape photography. The emphasis should be on a relatively lightweight model which is easy to carry with one caveat; that it is more vulnerable in strong winds. One important factor when considering a tripod is that you can work comfortably with your camera at eye-level – many ‘travel tripods’ reach their maximum height well below this height and are stressful to use. Carbon fibre tripods are lighter and more expensive than those made from aluminium but do the same job.

Backup and storage – always a good idea to have your images in more than one place. It’s a good idea to bring your laptop onto which you can back up but also to select your best images for the critique session at the end of the tour.

Wet weather protection for your camera – this isn’t essential, however most digital camera don’t like moisture that much and it makes sense if you have some sort of cover – if it was raining heavily, it is unlikely that we would be photographing for long, however, a random shower or constant light drizzle can sometimes be problematic. Whilst there are specialist solutions available, having a polythene bag to hand would do the job.

Lens cloth – a lens cloth is useful for removing rain or sea spray if it finds its way onto a lens.

A remote release is crucial to ensure sharp images, either cable, Bluetooth or App.

Spare batteries – make sure that you don’t run out of juice.

To confirm your booking, you are required to pay a non-refundable deposit of 25% of the tour price. Once we receive your deposit, the contract between us will become binding and covers everyone you are booking on behalf of. After this, we will send you an invoice for the balance and advise you of the date for payment of the same. Brochure and website prices are quoted in UK Sterling. Payment will be accepted by:
Maestro, Visa Electron, Visa Debit and Solo debit cards or Visa/Mastercard/American Express credit cards.
Bank Transfer (details available from our office).

For our full Booking Conditions can be found here: Here

To confirm your booking, you are required to pay a non-refundable deposit of 25% of the tour price. Once we receive your deposit, the contract between us will become binding and covers everyone you are booking on behalf of. After this, we will send you an invoice for the balance and advise you of the date for payment of the same. Brochure and website prices are quoted in UK Sterling. Payment will be accepted by:
Maestro, Visa Electron, Visa Debit and Solo debit cards or Visa/Mastercard/American Express credit cards.
Bank Transfer (details available from our office).

For our full Booking Conditions can be found here:

We strenuously recommend that you take out a travel insurance policy as soon as you have booked your trip with us.

A travel insurance policy protects you and your holiday arrangements from the unexpected before and during your trip. It is your responsibility to make sure you have adequate cover, and we are not able to offer advice on insurance. However, we recommend your policy should include cover for emergency medical costs, cancellation or curtailment of your trip, personal belongings/baggage and personal liability:

In the event of emergency rescue and medical care and/or repatriation from a trip due to injury or medical emergency, any evacuation and medical costs will be borne by the client.
If you need to cancel your trip with us, then you may lose some or all the money you have paid.All luggage and personal equipment are, always, at your own risk. We will not be responsible whatsoever for any loss, damage to your luggage and/or personal equipment.

Some options for Travel Insurance Providers include:
Campbell Irvine Direct
Journeyman Insurance Services

However, we recommend you do your own research to find the best provider for you.

Park Inn by Radisson
Glasgow City Centre
139-141 West George Street
Glasgow G2 2JJ
0141 221 1211

Motel One
78-82 Oswald Street
G1 4PL
0141 468 0450

Grand Central Hotel 4-Star Hotel
99 Gordon St
G1 3SF
0141 240 3700

Radisson Blu Hotel,
301 Argyle Street
G2 8DL
0141 204 3333

Premier Inn
Glasgow City Centre (Argyle Street)
377 Argyle Street Glasgow
G2 8LL
0333 777 7292

Millennium Hotel Glasgow
George Square
Glasgow G2 1DS
0141 332 6711

Jurys Inn Glasgow Hotel
80 Jamaica Street
G1 4QG
0141 314 4800

Premier Inn Inverness
19-21 Huntly Street
Tel: 0871 527 9302

Premier Inn Inverness
Millburn Road
Tel: 0871 527 8544

Eildon Guest House
29 Old Edinburgh Road
Tel: 01463 231969

Dionard Guest House
4 Star
39 Old Edinburgh Road
Tel: 01463 233557

Glenmoriston Town House Hotel
4 Star Luxury Hotel
Ness Bank
Tel: 01463 223 777

Lynver Guest House
4 Star
30 Southside Road

Colin will meet you in the centre of Inverness Railway Station by the fixed seating area 08:30. On the final day of the workshop, we will return to Inverness Railway Station at 14:30, allowing clients to connect with rail services south.

Coronavirus - COVID-19

We continue to run tours in a way that is true to our values, respecting each of you as individual travellers, whilst respecting the communities that we are visiting.

Please note that new bookings will only be accepted on the provision that if the trip is unable to go ahead due to Covid 19 restrictions and the trip suspended, payments will be held indefinitely and can be put towards any future workshop.

Traveller responsibility

1. We request that all travellers bring a minimum of 2 reusable masks.
2. That clients declare if they feel they that they may have COVID-19 symptoms.
3. That you do not travel if you feel unwell or are symptomatic before the trip.
4. That you follow all guidelines and procedures set out by us and any suppliers we use.

The current situation in the UK

To stay informed, we recommend you visit the UK Government website as well as the Scottish Government site.

Travel advisories and inbound health measures
If you are travelling from outside the UK then you must review the contents of this section of the Scottish Government guidance before considering travel to Scotland.

Travel advice for travellers visiting the UK from common locations

United States   |   Canada   |   Australia

We recommend you check your own government advice with regards to travel to the UK and Scotland.

Pre-trip information
Please take extra care to read through any pre-trip information you are sent, paying particular attention to the COVID-19 details and requirements, such as bringing your own face masks, and being aware of any rules which apply in Scotland which may be different to rules where you live.

Please also check with your airline/train company about any specific requirements they may have in place for your journey to Scotland. If you’re informed, then you’ll be able to raise any questions with us ahead of your trip, which of course we’ll be delighted to help with.