Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Back in time…


Several thousand years
Day 4 of the Scottish trip

Woke up at 6 and thought that I’d have trouble getting back to sleep especially as there was a bit of snoring going on, but put an ear plug in and all of a sudden I was dreaming of my travel companions being up – and they were. 8 a.m.!!! 

The bay by daylight from my window
 “Anything you want” the owner said when we enquired about the choices on the menu. I had the salmon and scrambled eggs, 
Fresh from the Island
G the Herring rolled in an oat batter and fried and M the full Scottish breakfast: all were delicious. Then, lucky us, the owner of The Sands Hotel in Burray – Kath – came up with a double and a single room for tonight. Ah a room of my own tonight and another great evening meal. However she still had nothing for Sunday except one double so called around and sent us off to meet Mick at the Bankburn (I have stayed in some weirdly named places “traitor’s gate” “swona”. We followed Kath’s (as it turned out her name was) husband (?) Stewart to there and first thing we saw: a Tesla hook-up, then the Tesla. Visited the available rooms for Sunday night and chose the double (no. 5) and the single (no.3) which would have been possible as a triple as there are two twin beds and a pull out sofa! Views out the back window are gorgeous so the euphoric feeling of actually having lodging for both nights kicked in making the days’ activities even more pleasant.

Off we went to find M’s ruins. Along the way we stopped first to take picture of the sunken boats not knowing until later that this was called the “Churchill Barrier” and had been done on purpose to block the passageway up the Scapa Flow against the Germans in WWII after the disastrous sinking of the Royal Oak with the loss of over 800 men: another little known fact is that the Scapa Flow was the naval base for the British fleet during both world wars. 
 
Sunken ships in the Scapa Flow

Then the GPS took us to a street in Kirkwall called Skara Brae instead of the site. Never mind as it allowed us to see where the cathedral was and stumble across the Visitor’s information. Got maps and info. Thereafter off to the real Skara Brae stopping to take pictures of the “beastie” – highland cows. 

Highland cow or "beastie"

Not native to the area - a Holstien

Hair in my face - and yet I'm a female in spite of appearances

Weather superb with sun and ever changing clouds. First stopped at Maeshow as we saw the cut off – fortunately we did this as the first available tour isn’t until tomorrow at 14h00! The girl was splendid though and we purchased the pass for the various spots that we wanted to see. A real bargain it turns out as only £15.10 and most entries were 5 – 7.50.  Then on to Skara Brae, the reason that M had planned this whole Orkney adventure: a Neolithic dwelling site that was discovered when a strong wind started ripping away the grass and turf in the 1850s. After touring the site we also went through the house of William Watt, of Skail, the local laird that allowed for the discovery before returning to the gift shop and lunch finally around 14h30 where I decided to have a scone and a double espresso (so late and I knew that I would have another good meal that night). Got to get all my favorites in whilst here after all. 

typical countryside

many, many, many dry stone walls

a mock of one of the original Skara Brae homes

On the bluff and in the bay

Skara Brae

Skara Brae
http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/skarabrae/
for anyone interested in more information

A whole field of rabbits

Many fields of sheep
Then we drove to many other sites including the Brough of Brisbay – a Nordic settlement. Here we should have paid, but no one around. Had to cross bits which would be covered at high tide and the views of the coastline were stupendous. On the way back across the bit of rock I picked up a couple of shells as souvenirs. Also looking for rocks.
The Lighthouse of the Brough of Brisbay stands on the top of the hill, a more modern tribute to the island. 

Criss crossing the island - much the same scenery and weather

near the Brough of Brisbay

Rocks at Brough of Brisbay

More rocks and the sea beyond

Looking North towards the cliffs along the Western coast

Nordic settlement
Then on to the Church of St. Magnus in Brisbay (est. 1064). Very simple inside – the graveyard surrounding it had many tilted tombstones. From there across the street Earl Robert’s palace. Lighting superb, ruins great.   
Earl Robert's castle - and a hay haul

 Then on to the Broch of Gurness, which was actually to me the one that produced the best feelings of “old”!  It was supposed to close in five minutes – was also supposed to cost an entrance fee, but there was no one so we did see it all before heading back to the car at the tail end and in some lowering skies. 


Broch of Gurness

Broch of Gurness


Back at The Sand’s hotel I picked up my luggage and went to “me” (easy to pick up the accent and the Scottish way of speaking) glorious and alone room!

We a dinner reservation for earlier this time – 19h15 and actually got there around 19h30. I ordered the scallops and have rarely had as good a meal: freshly caught by local divers, large and absolutely exquisite! There were carrots, broccoli and “tatties” as well. And of course another “Orkney Gold”. Nothing to not love.

One of the best meals of my life - long and as interesting as it has been!
Sunset through my window overlooking the same bay as the night before and dreams of ancient cultures made for good company.

Same bay as this morning's picture at the top