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Highlights of the Orkneys

Highlights of the Orkneys
Route at the Orkneys

So what really are the highlights of the Orkneys? Of course, as always in Scotland, the landscape wins. But the places where prehistoric artefacts have been found are at least on a par. And that’s exactly what we want to see at our leisure today. If we had known that one of the highlights of the Orkneys really was our hotel … No, we would have visited the historically interesting places anyway!

Highlights of the Orkneys - Scapa Flow
Scapa Flow

But first, after an excellent breakfast, we visit the main town on the islands, Kirkwall, where two cruisers are already moored, which in my opinion should be a sign to flee immediately. But on the way to the capital, we pass the remaining wrecks of the ships of the German fleet that were sunk after the First World War in 1919. A pretty spooky sight.

Highlighs of the Orkneys - Cathedral of Kirkwall
Cathedral of Kirkwall

At one of these places, we meet a local fisherman who is preparing his fishing baskets for lobsters and tells us his woes. He only gets around three to four pounds for a kilo of lobster and the delicacies are then sold on the market for ten to twenty times as much. He also has to deal with paperwork, which makes the whole thing even less worthwhile. Nevertheless, he remains loyal to his job, of course, because the quantities of available catch have been increasing significantly again in recent years. But as we all know, complaining is part of the business, so we enjoy listening to his rants against the government in the broadest slang with a slight smile.

After a stop in Kirkwall and a visit to the cathedral there, we drive on to Scara Brae. Wikipedia introduces a long article on Scara Brae as follows:

Scara Brae is a Neolithic settlement on Orkney. It is located just off the west coast of the main island of Mainland Scotland on the Links of Skail. It is dated to between 3100 and 2500 BC and contained Grooved Ware pottery. The use of Skara Brae ends with the Bell Beaker culture.

Cliffs of Yesnaby
Cliffs ofYesnaby

We are quite startled by the large number of cars and especially buses on arrival, but then discover an entrance to the archaeological site that does not go through the ticket office. Sorry, we’re not bad boys. But yesterday we had already spent over fifty pounds on a visit that was more like a department store tour at the start of the summer sales!

Also, due to the bad weather, we really only visited the coast and didn’t get as far as the actual archaeological site. In this respect, our guilty conscience is kept within narrow limits!

Afterwards, however, we visit a real highlight, namely the cliffs of Yesnaby. There are really extremely high and rugged cliffs here, which look as if a giant had piled huge pancakes on top of each other. Breathtaking is one adjective that comes to mind.

Whale Watching
Whale Watching
Whale Sighting
Whale Sighting

At the edge of the cliffs, we meet a man and three women, all armed with binoculars and cameras with gigantic telephoto lenses. When we ask them what they want to do with them, they explain that whales and dolphins know the underwater tecture here and hunt for prey here in particular. The shelf extends on average to around five hundred metres off the coast, after which the seabed drops steeply to great depths.

There are also currents that draw large schools of fish along here. Well, where there is plenty of prey, there are also plenty of predators. Hence the “rush” of whale watchers. It goes without saying that we only see a single beetle make a brief appearance! But that doesn’t dampen our enthusiasm for the place. It really is a unique coastal landscape here in Yesnaby!

And just as the weather in Scotland was described to us, so it is today: “It’s either going to rain or it’s going to rain.” And it is raining. So the visit to Stromness more or less falls through and we decide to drive back to St Margaret’s Hope and have a drink in our hotel. Well, the drinking didn’t work out because I wanted to write the blog. But that can easily be made up for when we go to dinner.

Highlights of the Orkneys - Dinner at the Murray Arms
Dinner at Murray Arms

So for now, bon appétit and then, after a round of Schafkopf, a good night!


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