Journey to North Atlantic – Summary and Maps

Untitled-7I am heading off on an expedition to the Scottish Highlands and islands, Lofoten Islands, Spitsbergen, Greenland and Iceland.

The map at the right gives a rough impression of the intended route overall though distances are misleading because it uses Mercator’s projection and the northern regions are somewhat close to the North Pole.

It is a significant logistical exercise involving I think 15 flights, 7 car or camper rentals, 17 ferry journeys (mainly with vehicle), 3 photographic boat or ship trips, 22 Bed and Breakfasts or hotels and taking 84 days.


First I am flying from Canberra to Inverness, driving round the North-West Highlands and visiting Lewis, Harris, Skye and Mull.  Then there is an 8-day photographic boat trip to the Hebrides including St Kilda (not shown on the map).  Finally I return along Loch Ness to Inverness.

I am am expecting to encounter landscapes, crofts, ruined castles, brochs, standing stones and some wildlife.


From Inverness, I fly to Orkney.  On one day I will be visiting the remote northern islands of Westray and Papa Westray.  Other than that I will be mainly on Mainland (the largest island) apart from a brief visit to Rousay.

Orkney has remarkable archaeological sites that go back to the neolithic (late stone age) including chambered cairns, standing stones, houses and brochs.  There are also ruined mediaeval churches and a castle and some old traditional farm buildings.



Next stop is Shetland, similar to Orkney in many ways but more isolated.  I made the bookings before I had read sufficiently widely and I could have allowed more time here.

The climate worsened here thousands of years ago and farmland turned to peat and became much more marginal.  This means there are many ancient remains that were not overbuilt.

Interest here includes landscapes, abandoned villages, ruined churches and castles and neolithic settlements.  I start with a nighttime visit to an almost-intact broch with storm petrels returning to roost.

I hope I do not encounter too many days of continuous rain in Scotland and the islands.


From Shetland I fly to Aberdeen and visit a ruined mediaeval castle nearby.  From Aberdeen I fly to Tromso in northern Norway and spend some time in the Lofoten Islands.

This is mainly a place for landscapes and seascapes with small mountainous islands and old wooden villages by the sea.

Next I fly north to Spitsbergen and have booked on a one-day cruise to an abandoned Russian settlement.  I then join an Aurora cruise, up the coast of Spitsbergen, then across and down the coast of Greenland to Iceland.  There will be arctic seascapes and wildlife.

Untitled-8In Iceland, I pick up a 2WD camper and drive around it.  Hopefully this will allow me to sleep mainly during the day and be up for the low-light periods around the short night.

My interests are mainly landscapes, remains of saga times and to some extent wildlife.


After driving around in a clockwise direction I return the camper and pick up another one, this time a 4wd, for some of the rugged roads and landscapes in the interior.

Finally, after a day in Reykjavik, I return to Canberra.

My intended itinerary follows as a separate post.

14 comments on “Journey to North Atlantic – Summary and Maps

  1. willc88 says:

    This sounds like a great trip, can’t wait to read about it!


  2. Wow, Murray, what a trip. Extraordinary. Amazing the Scottish part of your trip alone. Looking forward to experiencing that vicariously. and to learning about the history, from all epochs. I remember seeing these remarkable stone spheres, incised with crosses, from Northern Scotland, from the isles, I think. St KIlda will also be fascinating, if sad. Wasn’t it evacuated? (in the 1930s?) There is a film about it, or at least set on St Kilda, an early work by the great English director Michael Powell (who later directed Black Narcissus; Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, etc) and inspired by him reading about the evacuation. And an even better book, by him, about the making of that film. It’s called, if i remember right, “At the Edge of the World”. The book is great, one that inspired me to try becoming a film director, i remote places, with (artistically) disastrous results. (I was no Michael Powell, alas) But if you can get hold of the book, it is still reads surprisingly fresh, and entertaining good fun. If you are routing through London I bet the bookshop in the National Film Theatre (in the South Bank Arts Centre) will have it. Anyway, apologies, too much information. I’d say you have enough on your plate with planning and preparation and checking equipment and so on. Sounds a mammoth undertaking. But very exciting. Look forward to reading about it all in the future. -Arran.


    • Murray Foote says:

      Yes, St Kilda was evacuated in 1930 after 3,000 years’ occupation. I did see a short film about it from the late 20s; I don’t know if that’s the one you’re referring to. I also expect to visit abandoned villages in Mull and Shetland.

      The reason I already have all the detailed maps is because they are configured for my car GPS. I’ve done a fair bit of reading but what with all the photographic equipment, I can’t take any books with me though I do have one or two PDFs.


  3. allesistgut says:

    This must become a marvelous trip. Good luck and Bon Voyage! 😀


  4. You are a true globe-trotter. Can’t wait to see the images from those wild, out-of-the-way places. Best of luck!


  5. Chris says:

    I have to admit that I am a bit jeallous about your journey 🙂
    Besides that: Good luck, have a very good journey and I am curious about the images that you will bring back.


  6. Kerry Scarlett says:

    Hi Murray

    Wow what an amazing adventure.

    I’ll look forward to hearing about the trip and seeing your photos.

    Have a safe trip.




  7. Sartenada says:

    You have great blog – congratulations! Are You gonna or did You visit to visit Nordkapp. It is the Northernmost place in Europe where one can drive by car. Some years ago we visited it. Of course I have a post from it. I admired Sapporo snow photos – terrific. In Finland we have every winter world’s biggest snow castle. It is full of ice carvings and I think that worth for a visit.

    Here is my post from 2012:

    World’s Biggest Snow Castle.

    It includes also short video showing how it was this year.

    Happy travel!


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