Saturday, 4 May 2013

Orkney Trip Part 3...

On our final day in Orkney we decided to take the ferry across to Shapinsay - one of the smaller Islands. Ferries leave several times a day from Kirkwall, and you can just walk on if you're on foot - the chap will come round and find you in due course and get your money. The crossing is a short one, taking just under half an hour, but the views are spectacular and on a bright, sunny day like we had it's fabulous!


Balfour Village was formerly known as Shoreside, and was built to house workers from the Balfour Estate.


We chose to walk up to the RSPB Reserve at Mill Dam - although there is not much in the way of facilities here there is a fantastic hide with panoramic views, and it comes fitted out with lots of pairs of binoculars and even a spotting scope on a metal frame - giving you excellent views across the reserve. We were astonished - this is not something you'd ever find just left for people to use in your average reserve in England! nothing particularly exciting to watch, but we did strike up conversation with a chap who wandered in after a while - he's lived on Shapinsay for a few months now and recommended a walk for us to try on from the reserve. (He also mentioned that he'd managed to lose his glasses a few days previously - more of that later).

Following our new chum's directions we wandered on along the road until it petered out into a track, and then followed that around a corner and soon afterwards we spotted this ahead of us...


...Old World War II Gun emplacements and associated buildings! We reckoned just about anywhere else these would have been behind fences, with "KEEP OUT" emblazoned in red on official looking signs, but not here - we were able to wander right up to the buildings and explore thoroughly! The new background on my Twitter homepage was taken there - it's the metal numbering on one of the gun emplacements which was used to line the gun up at the correct trajectory. Having had a good poke around that bit, we wandered on a bit further to this:


The "Ranging Tower" which would have been used I believe as a lookout - to give early warning to the gunners of anything they needed to be aware of and then to confirm to them what bearings the guns needed to be set to. The tower has three storeys and the steps were still in place up to the First Floor - needless to say we wandered up for a look! As the structure is made almost entirely of concrete it was perfectly safe, but again we found ourselves thinking that down in the South East where we live, such a building would have been barricaded up just for the sake of it. Great fun to wander around, but it did make up think how remote and lonely it would have been for those working on the site in the war, and also how different the place would have looked 70 years previously.



We decided to head back to the village in pursuit of food - we were hoping the tea room in the old Smiddy would be open, but seemingly they only open in high season and we were too early in the year, so we had to settle for a visit to the "sells almost anything" local shop instead, where we found locally made Water Biscuits, and a piece of "Orkney Cheese" - a slightly odd thing, a little like a cross between feta and Mozzarella, quite tasty but with the sort of texture which convinces you it would bounce if you dropped it....


While we were in the shop we spotted these...


...and to the lady assistant's surprise were able to explain to her who we assumed the owner to be...I do hope he got them back!

Having found both tea & cake at a rather fab quirky cafe back in Kirkwall...


We returned to the Flowers homestead before heading off with Fay & the Dogs for a stomp at Yesnaby just as the sun was going down - beautiful cliffs....



...and a stunning sunset to see them by. A really wonderful end to the trip!


We had an absolutely fantastic time up in Orkney, and definitely want to return!

Robyn

5 comments:

Wendy said...

It sounds fantastic. I love the evening photographs of the sea; so atmospheric. It's great reading about a place that is so relaxed about certain things. And it does seem likely that you'll have helped reunite the man with his lost glasses.

Marksgran said...

Your photographs are beautiful. It sounds like you had a lovely time, and looks like you were lucky with the weather too. x

Robyn said...

Thanks Ladies! It really was a wonderful trip!

Wee Lass said...

Great description of the cheese - its really quite like a smooth, bouncy mozafeta! So nice to see your wee adventure! Nice to have you back sometime! x

Robyn said...

We'd certainly like to come back! xx