Explore Orkney

This item appears on page 56 of the February 2011 issue.

On a two-week trip my husband and I took to Scotland in August 2010, the last five days were spent in Orkney.

We flew to Kirkwall from Glasgow on the budget airline Flybe (Exeter International Airport, Devon, UK; phone +44 [0] 1392 268529) at $200 per person, round trip.

A short taxi ride took us to the very comfortable, centrally located Orkney Hotel (40 Victoria St., Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1DN, U.K.; phone +44 [0] 1856 873477), where we paid $150 per night for a double room with facilities en suite.

After a day of walking around Kirkwall on our own, we spent an exciting day seeing archaeological sites on a private tour with Explore Orkney (Unit 3, Parkside, Finstown, Orkney, KW17 2EN, U.K.; phone +44 [0] 1856 761159), whose website had caught my eye.

Explore Orkney is owned by a local family, and Kevin — who was our driver and guide — is the son of the owner and a delightful guy. He met us behind the Visitors’ Centre at 9 a.m. in a Range Rover and took us around the island on their “Megaliths and Mysteries” tour. He returned us to the door of our hotel around 5 p.m.

The highlights of the day included Maeshowe (built around 2700 BC), the Standing Stones of Stenness (3100 BC), the Ring of Brodgar (2500 BC), Skara Brae (3200 BC) and the Broch of Gurness (200 BC).

Lunch was included in the tour price, and as we entered Skerries, the restaurant at the Merkister Hotel (Harray Lock, Harray, Orkney; phone +44 [0] 1856 771366, www.merkister.com), we were told we could order anything on the menu. It was a lovely restaurant overlooking the water and we had a wonderful lunch. (Starters from £5.25 [near $8.25] and entrées from £15.)

I highly recommend this tour company. They offer many varieties of trips, some historic, some archaeological. As seniors, the cost of our day was £79 ($124) per person, including all entry fees; the regular price is £89. There was no waiting in lines for tickets, there was very little walking and we had excellent commentary in the car preparing us for each next site.

Big Flats, NY