Departing the quayside, we make our way to Highland Park, the northernmost Scotch whisky distillery in the world, set in an elevated position offering stunning panoramic views of Kirkwall town and Scapa Flow, as well as of our ship and the North Sea in the distance.
From its humble beginning in 1798 as an illicit still, Highland Park has produced some of the most respected single malt whiskies in the world, which have earned accolades such as Best Spirit in the World (3 times!) and World’s Best Single Malt. One of the fundamental flavours in Highland Park’s renowned whisky is delicate, sweet, aromatic, peat smoke, a unique characteristic which comes from 4,000 year old heathery peat dug from the nearby Hobbister Moor. We enjoy a guided tour, film presentation and expert tasting session of three different single malts, and receive a gift to commemorate our experience.
We then travel through the pastoral landscape of Orkney’s East Mainland and along the southeast shore of historic Scapa Flow, the chief base of the British naval fleet in World War I and World War II. We cross the first of the four Churchill Barriers, causeways built during World War II to protect the eastern approaches of Scapa Flow and to connect the South Isles to the Orkney Mainland. On the tiny island of Lamb Holm, we visit the beautifully hand-painted Italian Chapel. Built by Italian prisoners of war during World War II, the Chapel has been preserved as a symbol of peace and hope in times of strife, and Orkney’s enduring friendship with the soldiers from Italy.
Finally, we return to Kirkwall for free time in Orkney’s ancient capital which has been dominated by the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral for over 850 years. Known as the ‘Light of the North’, this iconic landmark is one of the finest medieval buildings in northern Scotland. We enjoy an optional guided tour of the cathedral followed by free time for shopping in the town centre before returning to our ship.