01.06.2015 - 01.06.2015
Correct me if I am wrong but I was under the impression that sunshine, clear blue skies, a bit of a breeze and friendly people made a place appealing. We came to The Orkneys to see if we could cope with the weather and feel as though we could fit in.... that it is wet, cold, windy, grey......mmmm not this Orkney today anyway.
We were served breakfast in a heated conservatory style breakfast room this morning and then gathered info from the Information Centre, along with our Explorer vouchers, and began the 42 mile trip today around the top of the main island. Clear skies, blue water, waves washing up onto sandy and pebbled beaches graced our drive and walks.
Today we searched for Puffins but found Guillemots and Razorbills, Tree Sparrows, Herring Gulls around bays and rocks on the shore line. In the fields near the Ring of Brodgar were adult Lapwings keeping gulls away from their chicks who were running around the field. Starlings feeding young with freshly gathered worms in a rocky nest at Robert the horrible Earl's Palace ruins (whose son Patrick was even worse) were not worried at us watching them diving in and out of the rocks bringing in food and removing rubbish -just as a parent does!
We parked the car and walked out to Brough of Birsay, when the tide was out. There are only about 4 hrs in a day you can access it by foot. From the top of the island there was a sheer drop to the crashing waves...Rob told me I had to sit down if I wanted to look, I suspect he was thinking about the 5cm rule we have at home. Anyway, I did as I was told and got some fierce shots of the waves crashing and birds nesting up the rock face. Other chicks were grouped together with their backs to the wind and a shag perched on a ledge below enjoyed a long stretch. If the holes were an accurate indication we suspect we were walking above an underground honeycomb of warrens. I always feel moved watching and listening to the sea in that sort of environment. It reminded me of Albany, the joy and terror you feel at the same time knowing how powerful the rocks and water are yet so beautiful.
There were others standing and looking out to sea also, in awe.
Places of interest today were; The Holme of Grinbister at Finstown, the back end of the Maeshawe, looking at the standing stones of Stennes, The Ness of Brodgar and the Ring of Brodgar which are between Stennes Loch and Harray Loch, the Loch of Clumly and the Loch of Scaille. We looked out over the Bay of Skaille from Scara Brae aand looked inside Skaille House. Driving north we passed the Loch of Isbister and The Loons to Birsay, St Magnus church and The Brough of Birsay.
Heading East we took in Swanae Loch and The Broche of Girness where we could also see the two wild straits between the mainland Eynhallow Island and Rousay. We drove back to Kirkwall passing Tingwall and looking out over the Bay of Isbister.
Along the route everyone who has a craft making business is open for anyone to drop in, say hello and make purchases directly from the maker. The lady at The Woolshed had a grumble, as she put it, about the weather, today being the exception, that its been so cold and wet most of the cattle are still being kept indoors. See, I knew it, animals should not be left out in the rain they get cold and their feet get muddy! Finally found some people who understand this! We've seen a lot of cattle and sheep though so goodness knows how many they have tucked away, waiting to see sunlight!
The Guest House end of the road we are staying on is down town suburbia, half way along (3 minutes drive) is farming land, and then at the end ( a further 4 minutes drive ) is the Bay of Inganess where cows in the field abutting the shore watch over a rusted old ship resting in the shallow waters. Something for everyone in our street.
Someone here today referred to The Orkneys as one big farm and that sums it up pretty accurately. I can't see anyone dressing up for fine dining or the opera. Everyone so far seems to be comfy in casuals and happy to nod hi or have a chat about the weather, which they tell us has been so cold for so long, and today was out of the ordinary.... so much for our impression in the first 24 hours.
Tomorrow we rev the engine and head to the south of the island, that should take a couple of hours! In the afternoon we will look at the archives and library for a little while as my maternal family line has a history dating back to the Orkneys. Rob has a time to meet up with Geoff tomorrow to chat some things over.
Tonight will be an early night as I have the same stupid headcold I had in Melbourne in January and my face feels like someone is smashing it in while I swallow Razor blades. Hopefully Rob won't get it.
Today was a public holiday at home, so hopefully you all enjoyed a day off work. No doubt Kirsty and Ian are wishing they had a staff member with a higher attendance rate at the moment. My apologies as I bet you did not get a long weekend!
Enjoy your short working week. We have actually unwound so much we barely can remember what the day is, and matching it with a date is almost impossible without serious finger work. I did comment to Rob that it will be hard to go back to work when we return. He muttered something about Yep and paying for this adventure!!! Typical Rob style.
Back to the birds.....maybe we'll see Puffins in The Shetlands.