Friday, 2 December 2016

Orkney

The ferry passed close to the sea-stack known as 'The old man of Hoy'.  The cliffs of Hoy are an impressive sight.

The Old Man of Hoy

Then the boat swung around the north end of Hoy, past an seething tidal race and into Stromness bay.  I cycled out of the town and found a fine campsite about to close for the winter in two days time, which suited me perfectly. I pitched my tent and set off to explore the excellent museum with displays about John Rae, the Arctic explorer, and a collection of artefacts from the archaeological dig at the Ness of Brodgar.

Stromness
A plaque in the main street marks the place where the Hudson's Bay Company ships took on water. The ships of Lord Franklin's ill-fated expedition in search of the North-West passage watered here too.

Stromness

After a very good coffee from a delicatessen I cycled off on a perfect morning to visit the Ring of Brodgar, and then on to the prehistoric village at Skara Brae.  That evening I went to a series of talks in the Stromness art gallery about the excavations at the Ness of Brodgar.  I liked Stromness a lot.



The next day I went for  a walk along a wild piece of coastline at Yesnaby, and then walked by the sea near the campsite among spectacular rainstorms and rainbows.

Sea stack at Yesnaby


The following day I revisited the Ness of Brodgar and went for my pre-booked visit to the chambered tomb at Maeshowe, which is spectacular. From there it was a short ride to Kirkwall, where I ate in a hotel on the harbour and then relaxed for a few hours in an upstairs room while I waited for the midnight ferry to Lerwick. I shared the room for a while with a group of bridesmaids, a bride, and someone selling bridesmaids outfits.

It's slightly eerie catching a midnight ferry.  Very few people about.  I had foolishly booked a 'sleeping pod' with my ticket.  It was just a reclining seat and so, of course, very uncomfortable.

I got up and went to sleep on the floor.

Maps:  Orkney archaeology;  Stromness to Kirkwall

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