Monday, 21 August 2017

Our final day - Yesnaby in the sun..

Well our final day. Orkney was a fantastic holiday and the weather was more than kind to us - especially being as we were camping! It was therefore somehow appropriate that on our final day there should be a brisk breeze and showers. The light at Yesnaby, one of our favourites from earlier in the holiday, was fantastic. 

A 'bitty' day.

Apart from Dounby show we toured round a bit and explored some more coastline.

Warebeth, near Stomness.

Unstan chambered cairn.

Walking west from the Breck near Houton - a good walk - strange to come across anti - submarine netting on the shore. 

Dounby Show 2017

Off to Dounby Show today - not as much was made of stock as at our local show in Cumbria and there were a lot more trade stands. Disappointingly, there wasn't an industrial tent of any kind. The rain held off though.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Houton to Hoy ...

Setting off on the ferry this morning was great - a lovely day on Hoy. Having been to the Scapa Flow and Visitor Centre kind of puts the view in context! Two very different views from Houton.

The Scapa Flow museum was excellent and well deserved of the funding that has been gained for a complete overhaul over the next couple of years.

The Scapa Flow museum - free - on Hoy.

Hoy! - The Old Man ..

A gorgeous day and a spectacular walk - staying at the bothy in Rackwick..or camping, is now on my list of things to do! ...together with, slightly unrealistically, climbing the old man!


Great Skua - a very obliging one at that!

Hoy!.....Red-throated divers and the Dwarfie Stane.

Another glorious day after an inauspicious start...and we were on our way to Hoy. This time we took the car so that we could do as much of the island as we wished. It's advisable to book a couple of days in advance for the ferry.

Red-throated divers on 'The Water of Hoy' .

The Dwarfie Stone,  a chambered tomb carved out of a glacial erratic.
Visitors to the Dwarfie Stane included a British spy in 1850, Major William Mounsey, who carved in Persian script ‘I have sat two nights and have learned patience.’ ..some think this was a reference to the midges!

Rousay - three chambered cairns: Blackhammer and Taversoe Tuick

Our second chambered cairn was Blackhammer, which like the Knowe of Yarso had a main subdivided chamber. Unlike the previous cairn access was through the newly constructed roof!

The flora beside the road was pretty spectacular too....

The third chambered cairn, Taversoe Tuick, has the unusual arrangement of two chambers being set above each other, with a third smaller chamber lying outside the main cairn. The only other similar on Orkney is on Eday. At the time of use the two chambers were accessed independently from the hillside, today you can climb down into the lower chamber.

..and then a lovey ferry journey back to the Mainland.

Rousay - three chambered cairns: the Knowe of Yarso.

On the most glorious of days we caught the ferry, as foot passengers, across to Rousay and walked along the road to the three chambered cairns. All very different in their own way. 

The ferry arriving at Tingwall - today it was the Shapinsay
 - not the usual one but it was Shapinsay show day,
 so there had been a swap around. 

Not a bad view from the road!

The first cairn was Knowe of Yarso - The modern roof had been added for protection but the inside shows evidence of a double skin - a feature of many cairns on Orkney.Inside the chamber is divided into stalls by upright stones. Due to the roof it's a damp tomb - hence the algae and green haze! Which made for a more colourful sketch! The bones of 29 adults were found when it was excavated. 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

RSPB hide, Cottascarth, Orkney

Our first hide was the Eddie Balfour hen harrier hide at Cottascarth. I've never been to such a high class hide - beautifully appointed and constructed - more like a house than a hide! As the name implied- a harrier jumped up fro in front of the hide - too close to photo! Most spectacular for me was the mural -fantastic art work...


The Orkney Museum, Kirkwall.

Housed in a grade A listed building, this delightful and free museum, tells the story of the islands from the stone age to the present day. Many of the key artefacts we have read about, from sites we have visited, are on display. Well worth a visit.

A selection of finds - the balls are the ones from Skara Brae; thought to be of some ritual significance
 and the claws are white-tailed sea eagles from tomb of the eagles. 

                          It was really interesting to see the sketches of the artist in residence, Karen Willis, at the Ness of Brodgar too.

Sails in St Magnus

The sails in St Magnus really added to the atmosphere in the cathedral and they had a good tale to tell.

St Magnus cathedral, Orkney

St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall was well worth a visit as it is a fine example of a Romano - Gothic architecture. It is built from local red and yellow sandstone took about 300 years to build, the foundations starting in 1137. It was dedicated to Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney. He shared the earldom with his cousin, Haakon Paulsson, but jealousy and greed culminated in Magnus being martyred on the island of Egilsay.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Stromness and the stones!

A glorious evening so a quick run round via Stromness and a re-visit of Brodgar and Stenness - this time in bright sunshine!

Stromness - I loved the architecture here and would love to sit and sketch 

Wilhelmina Barns- Graham sketches at the Pier Arts Centre 

Stenness in the sun.

Ring of Brodgar. 

Sandwick Fish beds, Yesnaby

Walking north from the car park you come to a broch ....and then Ramna geo and the fish beds. These are basically a turned over pile of mudstones but there are still obvious fossil bits and bobs. One piece we saw looked exactly like the piece that was in the Fossil and Heritage Centre on Burray that was labelled - this is what you need to look for - the blue colouration is due to weathering.

..and then there were lots of possible spines and scales - wish we'd had longer at this site!

Stromatolites at Yesnaby.

The geology at Yesnaby is superb.  Just by the carpark there are some excellent horse-tooth stromatolites (fossilised remains of blue-green algae for the mud flats of Lake Orcadie - Devonian) that show the yearly growth rings, just like trees. These are 400 million years old - and should be left for others to enjoy - sadly there was some evidence of bits being removed.

As you walk along the coast there are plenty of examples of fossilised ripples and cracks in the sediments of Lake Orcadie.

...and some very pretty patterns on which I am planning to do a tapestry weaving.