Day 98 Day Trip to Orkney

Sunday 12 July 2015

Day trip to Orkney

John O’Groats Ferry and coach tour

John O’Groats campsite

It rained heavily and was very windy during the night but my tent survived. Putting on wet boots was not pleasant this morning but they dried out a bit during the day and at least I didn’t have to walk far.  

Waiting for the ferry, burger in hand
 A cup of tea and a bacon and egg roll from the burger van opposite the ferry made a fine breakfast and then we were off to Orkney, the land of farming and extreme wind. It took 40 minutes by foot ferry across the Pentland Firth to Burwick on South Ronaldsay.   
The ferry arriving at John O’Groats

There was a lot packed into a long day but it was a good way to see the islands quickly and we had a very knowledgeable, and entertaining, guide. We drove over the 4 Churchill Barriers, erected to stop U-boats entering Scapa Flow, which is a huge natural harbour that was used by the Royal Navy.  

Churchill Barrier number 2
 We visited Skara Brae Neolithic village at the Bay of Skaill. It is 5000 years old and yet the ‘houses’ look strangely modern with beds, shelves, even a type of larder and a mantelpiece. 

Skara Brae and the beautiful Skaill Beach
The inside of one of the Neolithic houses
There is plenty of archaeology on Orkney and we saw the Rings of Brodgar and Stenness, two stone circles that pre-date Stonehenge.  

Ring of Brodgar standing stones
 I learned a bit about Orkney’s history, such as the scuttling in Scapa Flow of 74 ships belonging to the German Navy after WW1. Also the close links between Orkney and Norway; the Viking heritage.  

Dr John Rae, one of Orkney’s Arctic explorers with the Hudson Bay Company
 The last stop was at the Italian Chapel. A remarkable church that was built by Italian POWs from 2 Nissan huts and a load of concrete. It is an incredible building that shows off some wonderful imagination, skill and artistry. Apparently it is one of the most visited sites in Scotland.  

The Italian Chapel
Amazing artistry and intricacy in a Nissan Hut
Having been to Shetland I was glad to get the chance to see a bit of Orkney, only 3 of the 70 islands (of which 22 are inhabited) but a few of the sights.

[Note: according to Orcadians a rock in the sea is classed as an island if it has enough grass to sustain one sheep for a week] 

Arriving back at John O’Groats

3 thoughts on “Day 98 Day Trip to Orkney

  1. Chris Frazer July 14, 2015 / 4:04 am

    Wow Juice what a brilliant day….the photos of the island looked excellent. Absolutely fabulous post……how was the burger?


  2. Tracey July 14, 2015 / 10:38 am

    Morning Lucy! Love your whistle stop tour of Orkney – perhaps because the remoteness appeals to my anti-social tendencies! X


    • Lucy July 16, 2015 / 10:06 pm

      It’s a brilliant place. Apparently they just get drunk all winter and work very hard all summer!


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