Walking on Orkney Part 1

Pentland ferries
Cows.  That's my lasting memory of Orkney.  I was told there are more cattle on the islands than people and I believe it.

Every field is either full of graving bovine or grass being grown to feed them through the long, dark winter.

It's just as well the grass grows twenty-four hours a day during the long, light summer days.

Before describing the first of two walks I'll mention a couple of things which might be useful.

The locally owned Pentland Ferries are cheaper and have a shorter crossing than Northlink Ferries.

Walking on the Orkney and Shetland Islands is a pretty good book, but don't try walk 12 unless you want an angry dog chasing you.

Wild campsites for campervans are easy to find and there are showers at the travel centre, Stromness and Kirkwall sports centre.
Ring of Brodgar

The Italian Chapel is worth a visit.

The ranger-led walks around the Ring of Brodgar are excellent and I appreciated the stones much more this time than on my two previous visits.

You have to book to be shown around Maeshowe  Go for a latest 'twilight' tour and you might have the place to yourselves as we did.

Our second walk is on Hoy but this first one starts on the beach in front of the other big tourist attraction Skara Brae.

Every tourist who visits Orkney goes to Skara Brae, or so it seems.

The neolithic settlement is definitely worth a visit but don't expect to get it to yourself.

Skara Brae
Orkney is a top destination for cruise ships and this place is number one on the 'must-do' list for their passengers.

A few miles from here along the coastal path lies the Broch of Borwich, which is far less spectacular but you'll probably be the only folk here.

The thickness of the walls in this ancient building will set you wondering about the people who lived there for a thousand years until 500AD.

You can see the coastal walk in the map at the end and it's pretty hard to get lost.  Just keep the sea on your right.

Stacks and Geos
The high cliffs, scarred with Geos and Stacks, gradually give way to the heather hill of Black Craig where a remote camera monitors the offshore wavefarm, part of the marine energy test centre here on Orkney.  

You can continue around the coast, but we headed inland to Fletts (one of the most common names on Orkney), regaining the coast at Warebeth beach.

A little further along you'll find some of the best preserved ruins from the second world war, the defensive positions for searchlights and guns which guarded the entrance the vast enclosed natural harbour of Scapa Floe

Many Arctic Convoys sailed from here and it was a prime target for U-boat attacks.  The walk ends in the lovely town of Stromness, far more interesting a place visually than Kirkwall.

The walk is twelve miles long and just over 1300ft of ascent.  A taxi from Stromness back to Skara Brae costs about £15.  Our second walk coming Monday.


No comments: