Getting Your Motorhome To The Orkney Islands By Vehicle Ferry

There are three ways of reaching the Orkney Islands by vehicle ferry from the Scottish mainland:

1. Northlink Ferries’ Aberdeen-Kirkwall service
2. Northlink Ferries’ Scrabster-Stromness service
3. Pentland Ferries’ Gills Bay-St Margaret’s Hope service

Both the Northlink and Pentland Ferries services offer several sailings each day, except the Aberdeen route, which is once daily and much longer.

We chose the Pentland Ferries service from Gills Bay to St Margaret’s Hope, on South Ronaldsay. This was both faster and cheaper than the equivalent Northlink service from Scrabster to Stromness. (Although South Ronaldsay is a separate island to the Orkney mainland, it is joined by toll-free road causeways, so reaching the Orkney mainland does not require further ferries and only takes about 20 minutes.)

You can get comparison quotes for both service by choosing the UK-Orkney option in the booking engine below:

Pentland Ferries Review (Gills Bay – St Margaret’s Hope Ferry)

Pentland Ferries Pentalina ferry
The Pentland Ferries ship Pentalina is almost new, modern and very comfortable, with lots of seating inside and outside and a snack bar for the 1 hour crossing

We sailed on the Pentland Ferries service from Gills Bay (mainland Scotland) to St Margaret’s Hope (South Ronaldsay, Orkney) and also used the same ferry on our return from the Orkney Islands.

It was fast, well organised and modern and I would thoroughly recommend the service.

Don’t be misled by the rather basic terminal facilities at Gills Bay and St Margaret’s Hope – the ferry itself is very modern and well run and the office staff are friendly and helpful.

Payment can be made in advance by credit card, at the terminal before sailing by credit card or onboard, after sailing, in cash.

Boarding is a fairly simple process and the crew fit a surprising number of vehicles onto the ferry. The ferry loads from the rear only (it’s not roll-on, roll-off), so motorhomes, vans and other larger vehicles have to reverse on. This isn’t something to worry about, however – ample assistance is provided and it’s only a short, fairly straight reverse with good visibility.

(Although South Ronaldsay is a separate island to the Orkney mainland, it is joined by toll-free road causeways, so reaching the Orkney mainland does not require further ferries and only takes about 20 minutes.)

One thought on “Getting Your Motorhome To The Orkney Islands By Vehicle Ferry

  • August 14, 2010 at 4:10 pm
    Permalink

    I used to regularly visit Orkney on the Scrabster-Stromness service. The boat they had on had a terrible reputation for causing sea sickness. The story goes that they had a new ferry that made a large percentage of users unwell so they took it back to the builder and had some tanks welded along the side just below the water line. These caused the movement of the boat to be even worse and a far greater percentage of the passengers got sea sickness.

    Once you get there Orkney is a fantastic place. Everyone goes to the stone age and bronze age sites etc but the people who live there now are just as interesting. I used to visit farms as part of my job and met some lovely people. There is a tradition of making Orkney chairs and a few farmers still spend the winter months in their workshop building straw backed chairs.

    Orkney has a “different world” feeling and is well worth a visit.

    Cheers

    Phil

    Reply

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