- Saturday 25th – Sunday 26th June 2022
- Scrabster – Orkney
With one weeks annual leave and weather looking pretty rubbish all over Scotland for the whole week apart from one place, we were definitely heading to that place.
In order to get pretty decent weather and by that I basically mean no rain, we just want ‘dry’, our destination was Orkney (no joke)!
Orkney however has been on my ‘to do list’ now for quite some time so this was a reasonable excuse. With such short notice, as we had literally checked the weather on arriving back from our wild camp, I was pretty excited to be heading there.
We made our way up Saturday evening to Scrabster Harbour, the gateway to the North of Scotland, as this was where we would catch the ferry to take us to Orkney.
Scrabster is a small settlement on Thurso Bay in Caithness on the north coast of Scotland.
Before reaching Scrabster however we had to stop off at John O’ Groats.
Interesting fact, did you know the village takes its name from Jan de Groot, a Dutchman who obtained a grant to run a ferry between the Scottish mainland to Orkney, something I just learned too!
We got the ferry early next day and we were sailing to Orkney.
The sailing took around 1 hour 30 minutes passing by what looked like very beautiful small Islands. On nearing ‘mainland’ Orkney we passed by The Island of Hoy, with The Old Man of Hoy proudly standing guard.
This Island looked so rugged and cliffy, this was also on our ‘to do list’.
We eventually reached Orkney and landed in Stromness, the second most populated town in Orkney. It was very quaint with flagstone streets, lanes, piers and slipways. We simply wandered around having a look in all its nookes and crannies.
From Stromness we headed to Skara Brae, Europe’s best preserved Stone Age Village and I didn’t expect what I was about to see!
In 1850 a storm uncovered one of the most remarkable archeological sites in the world. Preserved beneath the dunes was a 5,000 year-old village.
We wandered around the museum checking out pieces of jewellery, dishes, tools, etc that had been found on the site and watched a small film giving us a deeper insight as to life in Skara Brae.
We then headed out to a replica house which gave us a further glimpse of what life was like for the residents here.
The houses are remarkable because each has the same internal layout, with beds to the sides, a central hearth and a dresser opposite the entrance. All houses were roughly the same size.
From here we made our way over to the village. Because this 5,000 year old settlement is so fragile, we could only look down from above, but my goodness what a surprise we got.
Wandering around these ancient homes in Skara Brae imaging how it was back then and the lives of the people who lived here was something else.
We then had a walk over to Skaill House, a fine 17th Century mansion, overlooking the Bay of Skaill.
This was home of William Graham Watt, 7th Laird of Breckness, who unearthed the World famous neolithic village of Skara Brae in 1850.
From here we moved on to Marwick Head for a stroll along the cliffs, supposedly puffins could be seen here and I so wanted to see my first real puffin. So high above the cliffs we went.
Our walk took us up Marwick Head Nature Reserve and the path gently rose atop the increasingly high cliffs. These cliffs provide a breeding ground for a variety of birds, but it was the puffins I was after!
At the top we got some amazing views of the cliffs beyond and we could see the towering Kitchener Memorial ahead.
We continued along the path to have a look at the stone tower. This memorial was erected in 1926 by the people of Orkney to commemorate the much-loved Minister of War Lord Kitchener and the crew of HMS Hampshire who lost their lives when the ship hit a mine in 1916 around 2.5km offshore from this point. Of a crew of over 600 only 12 men survived.
The armoured cruiser was bound for Russia on a diplomatic mission. On board was Lord Kitchener, now you may think who is he, but you will recognise him when I say, he was famously immortalised in the iconic recruitment posters created during the First World War which encouraged Britons to sign up to the army…see you do know who I’m talking about!
Then we left….without seeing any puffins whatsoever but millions of other birds! Typical!!