Clive and I booked a bus tour for the Orkney Islands. I was very excited about this as we had a really lovely stay at the B & B Skara. We had a large cooked breakfast each and felt ready for action. We had to drive to a place called John O’Groat’s to catch the Pentland Ferry to make the crossing. I was a little nervous at first but it was a lovely morning. We were blessed with clear blue skies with little wind. On the crossing we saw some of the islands such as Stroma. We were told on our tour that at least one family lives on all of the islands. This makes it difficult when their kids have to go to school. When we arrived to these viking islands we were greeted by Stuart the bus driver. We boarded a comfy bus and set off for Kirkwall. Kirkwall is the Capital of the Orkney’s. It is on the main island which they call Mainland. We got to get off for a wee bit and stretch the legs. We crossed over these little bridges that were made near the end of WW2. They are called Churchill barriers. They help link the islands together but the were created for defence. Orkney is home to Skapa Flow which is a large bay of water that was used to house all the boats and tanks for the Army and British Defence force. A German U-Boat snuck in and blew up the Royal Oak. It is still there today.
I was astonished but the rolling green hills on Orkney and the fantastic weather we had. It was like a clear, cool summer day. Later in the day the wind picked up.
We went across to Stromness after the quick stop in Kirkwall and we made our lunch and at some local Orkney Fudge. We also when to the Pier Gallery and came across an exhibition by Jim Lambie who is currently under commission by the Tate. Clive and I loved his modern works and the gallery itself was very modern architecturally and really fitted in with the old coastal environment. Next stop was Skara Brae
This is a caveman style dwelling over 4000 years old. It was uncovered just over 100yrs ago after a violent storm swept the sand away from it and revealed it. It was set up like a little basic home and dug into the ground. It was amazing to be at something so old that still existed. I also thought home that it was a fancy home compared to the homeless.
After Skara Brae we went on to the Ring of Brodgar followed by the Standing Stones of Stenness.
Standing stones….where do I start? They are just rocks standing upright in a paddock. Big deal. NO. For some reason they amazed me. The Ring of Brodgar made me feel like I was in the sequel to the Dark Crystal. There are more Standing stones all over the islands. They don’t know why they are created. They know they would of take 1000 of man hours and with the average of 34 it would have been a slow way to spend you r days, digging holes to prop rocks up unless it was for some grand purpose.
Afterwards we got to spend more time in Kirkwall. Which we did a little shopping and Clive bought a small silver pendant that was made by a local artist and we went to the Cathedral. I needed to seek some solace as I was about to snap kick these 2 bratty italian kids on the bus.
We also at some more Orkney ice cream I had Rhubarb and Custard flavour and Chocolate. It was delicious. After Kirkwall we had enough time to go to the Italian Chapel before we had to set sail back to Scotland again.
The Italian Chapel was built by Italian War Prisoners. They asked for a place to worship and were given a small cement room. With the skills they shared between them they decorated this room/hut and created a beautiful place of worship. They also created a statue out the front with barb wire and cement. This is flawless. Today it is maintained by a group of local volunteers.
So now we were waiting at the dock for the ferry which was running a little behind schedule. I could see out to sea that it looked a little choppy. For those of you that a not aware I am anxious with deep water and boats on the calm waters. When the ferry arrived I noticed a yooung guy who couldn’t wait to get off. So on we pop and I get out my matured Orkney Cheese, Orkney Oatcakes and Orkney Chilli Tomato Jam Relish to enjoy on the ride. About 3 minutes out and it gets a ittle choppy. I had decided to sit inside this time and I had a bad feeling. 4 minutes in and we were being thrown about like a toy in the bath tub. Clive takes enjoyment out of laughing at me any given time which always puts my crazy levels to 100 in 2 seconds. So here I am stressing out and Clive laughing wanting bigger waves. It was about then he asked me if I get sea sick……so he had a bit of concern here. In the last 10 minutes of the 40 minute crossing I did go up on deck. It was much calmer then the start but still not a perfect run like the morning trip. That evening we go back to John O’Groats at about 7:50pm. We hadn’t booked any accommodation and the car was to go back to Edinburgh on the Tuesday, it was currently Sunday.
With no abode we just drove South. The sun doesn’t really go down in North Scotland, except for about 4 hours and even then its like a weird twilight.
We drove through the amazing countryside that is Scotland, past rolling hills, large Lochs and rocky cliffs. We arrived in Inverness again. This time it was a bit after midnight. We camped in our car out the front of the Caravan Park we had stayed last time as it was in a nice and secure park of town. The car was ok for a nap but I woke at every sound. Clive loved the adventure of it.
At 7am we were tired and smelly and set off for Edinburgh.