It feels appropriate to start wrapping up my series of posts from Orkney – so many it will have taken a full year to complete!
All the posts so far have been from the mainland, there was so much to see that we only had time to visit one of the other islands: Hoy, which is Norse for ‘high island’, with some of the highest sea cliffs in the UK, and the famous sea stack, the ‘Old Man of Hoy (photos coming in my final post – best seen from the return ferry).
The ferry from Houton on the mainland to Lyness on Hoy offers yet more fabulous coastline views.
Including a huge salmon farm
Once again drenched in history, Hoy was the main naval base for the British Fleet in both World Wars. The deep water bays surrounding Hoy, in particular Scapa Flow (read more about this in my earlier post, https://deborahjayauthor.com/2020/04/13/orkney-mainland-and-churchill-barriers-touring-scotland/ ) were ideal for this purpose, and during the early years of World War II, up to 12,000 personnel were based in and around Lyness. In contrast, the current population is around 400.
Remains of some of the barracks are still visible in places, though they are gradually disappearing into the landscape. For more information one can usually visit the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum. Currently this is closed until 2021 for major renovations. Many of the exhibits now require a far more regulated environment to preserve them, and at the moment only a few items are still visible, along with a temporary pictorial presentation.
Going a little further back in wartime, you can visit one of the most northerly Martello Towers in the UK. Built in 1814 to defend merchant shipping in the natural harbour of Longhope against privateers commissioned by American president Madison, who declared war in 1812.
Once again, we were too late in the season to get a look inside, as we were also for the Longhope Lifeboat Museum, but peering through the windows was still fascinating.
With nothing open to view, we turned our attention to the landscape. Travelling to the northern most tip of the island took most of the rest of our day, but we were rewarded with this beautiful beach surrounded by spectacular sea cliffs.
And here we found this charming bothy, open for public use
It wasn’t in the greatest shape inside, but you could definitely shelter from the weather if need be.
The ‘garden’ had amazing views
And then with a time limit to catch our ferry back to the mainland, we set off on the return journey
We made one more brief stop, to take a quick peek at the Dwarfie Stane, another ancient tomb which dates back to around 5000 BCE. It is unique in northern Europe, bearing similarity to Neolithic or Bronze Age tombs of the Mediterranean.
We didn’t quite have the time to walk all the way up to it, so had to settle for long distance photos this time.
A couple more quick stops for pics along the way
And then it was back on board the ferry. Another full day!