Speedwell of Rhu Ship's Log

16 th to 19 th of June 2011 - The Orkneys

Crew : Andy and Helen
Destinations : Stromness.
Distance : 74 miles
We left our anchor at 08.00. The weather appeared pretty settled so we decided to head to Stromness in Orkney. The swell from various low pressure systems out in the Atlantic was fairly big, but there was no wind and it didn't feel too rough. We motored around Cape Wrath and north east across the north coast of Scotland. We sat watches and each had a bit of a kip on passage, although it only took about 12 hours in the end. As we headed into Hoy Mouth we had 6 knots of tide helping us around to the harbour entrance. We skidded beam on around the corner into the harbour, where, after avoiding a few pretty racing dinghys we found a pontoon berth.


The next day we explored Stromness and managed to replace a worn and broken impeller in the sink drain. We visited the art gallery where we saw more Alfred Wallis pictures than we had managed to see in St Ives. There was also a fairly good collection of Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth and the art gallery itself was a really nice building on the waterfront. We also visited the museum, which had lots about the sea, lighthouses and the Hudson Bay Company.


The following day we caught the only bus up the road to Marwick Head on the west coast at 07.35am. We walked up to the RSPB reserve where there were guillemots and fulmurs nesting on the cliffs and a monument to Kitchener who was killed in 1916 when his ship hit a mine. Sadly the locals were told not to send out a rescue party or to tell anyone because there may have been secret papers on the boat.

We walked along the west coast path to Scara Brae, which was amazing. At 5000 years old it is the remains of a settlement older even than the pyramids and Stone Henge. I could quite happily live in a stone house.

We then carried on walking back to Stromness along the cliffs. Despite it being over 15 miles and resulting in blisters and sore feet, it was worth it for the amazing sea stacks, cliffs, nesting birds and flowers.

YESNABY CASTLE,  a sea stack and arch in one!

We walked back into Stromness for fish and chips, before getting back to the marina.

The next day, on my birthday, we caught a bus to Maes Howe. This is a neolithic tomb, again over 5000 years old. We then walked along the road to see the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness. The whole area is full of neolithic archeological remains. They have recently found another village on the Ness of Brodgar, likely to be even bigger than Scara Brae, which  is gradually being excavated.

By the time we got back to the main road our feet were getting sore all over again. After a lunch of short bread and Orkney fudge we got the bus back to the boat. We replaced the gas cylinder and food ready to go north the following day. Andy met the woman from Selene. They had taken 36 hours to get to Stromness, having sailed the whole way and having had to head out way north into the Atlantic.


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