Heading Sooth

Thursday afternoon, right on the stroke of knocking-off time, we cranked up Brunhilde and headed off to Loth to catch the afternoon boat to Kirkwall. Brunhilde complained. She complained quite badly. In fact, the fanbelt was now continuously slipping and the charging light glowing faintly.

We had joined the RAC, “just in case” but felt we wanted to avoid trouble rather than simply deal with it. We discussed our plans while we were on the boat and changed them to avoid too much driving about or use of lights. One step that we took was to move our plan for a curry dinner from that evening, to Sunday evening. We felt that gave us a best chance of getting to our first destination without burning the headlights and killing the battery.

We took a quick stop to play with the dogs at Weyland, as is our habit, then dashed round Tesco for supplies before driving down to South Ronaldsay. Our destination was The Sands o’ Wright – juts past St Margaret’s Hope, on the way to Hoxa. We saw little of the scenery on the way as the haar was quite thick.

We parked in the car park by the toilets and were agreeably surprised at how pleasant it was there. So much so, that we made an instant decision to stay put, saving Brunhilde’s energy as far as we might. Then we would drive slowly back up to Kirkwall over the remainder of the weekend and abandon plans to visit Stromness and Warbeth, saving that for another time.  Additionally we elected not to do any tourist-y stuff and simply do nothing much at all – just the odd cache if we happened to be passing.

As it happened, there was a cache only yards to the right of us. More of that later.

We had one other van for company overnight and could see that there were a number of caravans and other vehicles parked by the sea down the road about a 100 yards away.

Mr L took the dogs for a run on the beach while there was still light enough and I busied myself preparing a simple meal of prawns, salad and Chardonnay – washed down with a strawberry trifle 😉

Friday morning dawned with a haar obscuring most of the view. We breakfasted and then upped sticks and drove to Hoxa Head –  or to the car park at the end of the road, that is. From the Hoxa Tea Rooms, it’s boots-only for transport. Normally we would have walked all the way but my achilles tendon problem is limiting my range at the moment. (I’m hoping that embedded map shows the route, but Google suggest otherwise)

Well signposted from the car park close to Hoxa Tearooms
Well signposted from the car park close to Hoxa Tearooms
Inquisitive sheep loomed out of the mist
Inquisitive sheep loomed out of the mist

We kept the dogs on their leashes until we had passed the sheep and the tea rooms. There was a slight kerfuffle, as we tried to persuade the mutts to negotiate a kissing gate. Once past the even more inquisitive cattle in the next field, we let the dogs off to run safely along the fenced track. Nell’s walking manners still leave much to be desired and she is hard work on the lead. We had a pocket full of treats each and took some time out for training. I’m not sure it did any good – all she took from the exercise was who had treats in which pocket. Suzie did her self-disciplined thing as usual. She is a hoot, returning herself to heel at regular intervals before trotting off again. Her entire motivation is the simple knowledge of “being good”. Being ostentatiously good makes her deliriously happy and very proud of herself.

I crossed through an open field gate to capture a Shaggy Ink Cap

Like there's times I'll do anything for a Scoobie Snack
Like there’s times I’ll do anything for a Scoobie Snack

Such a beautiful fungus. We saw many more over the course of the weekend, they seem to be very common on Orkney.

[su_box title=”Point of Interest:” style=”soft”]I grew up being told that Ink Caps are poisonous. They are not! I wish I had known that before today. NB, there is another ink cap that is normally safe but becomes poisonous when eaten with alcohol. Imagine that! [/su_box]

Apparently, there is a view to be had here
Apparently, there is a view to be had here

Further signposting at the entry to the battery site suggests that there are fine views here. We did not get to see them.

Another gate for the mutts to negotiate. Then the scent of rabbit! Two happy dogs.

The sea, and the view, are behind the chimney
The sea, and the view, are behind the chimney

I took a fancy to this chimney,standing all alone and surely, I thought, the obvious location for the cache. I was wrong.

The site is very dangerous

Not to be taken lightly
Not to be taken lightly

Great care is needed and the warning not to enter any of the buildings must be taken seriously. I was actually unaware that I was “in” a building as I hunted… it was an open faced spot and I was under an overhang, supported by little other than fresh air!

Crikey!
Crikey!
Our first geocache in a very long while
Our first geocache in a very long while

The GPS function on my phone performed very well. It took us a time to find the cache as we could not believe it would have been hidden where the GPS said it was hidden.No sensible person would put it there… would they? Well, it turned out that a not-sensible person had indeed hidden it just where my phone said it was.

We took a travel bug and a key ring and left a hair clip, signed the log and reluctantly put the box back where it came from.

Cache booty
Cache booty

Then I spotted something gleaming white in the mist…

Hoxa Friday Morning (10 of 12)
Field Mushrooms from the Hoxa Battery site

Now, I have never in my life been fed misleading information about the common Field Mushroom and these were swiftly plucked. One provided breakfast on Saturday, the other went into our evening pasta meal.

We walked back to the van, where I almost caught a view of the Pentalina

Is that the Pentalina in the fog? I wouldn't know, I have never seen her before...
Is that the Pentalina in the fog? I wouldn’t know, I have never seen her before…

Back at Base Camp we went in search of the local microcache and found it,

An awesome otter with a dapper tie indicates that the cache is close by
An awesome otter with a dapper tie indicates that the cache is close by

before taking the dogs out for a walk around the dam and associated wetlands. We were hoping to find another cache about a mile away but the path kind of petered out in someone’s front garden and we turned around and went home again… and I almost saw the Pentalina again.

Pentalina, return journey
Pentalina, return journey

The sun broke through the haar at half past four, in nice time for a little evening stroll on the sands.

After the walk
After the walk

After our walk I took my camera into the toilets to record the first of a short series on “The Things You Find in a Public Lav”

I know it's the right place to go for a pee but...
I know it’s the right place to go for a pee but…
... the peapod on the window sill was totally unexpected!
… the peapod on the window sill was totally unexpected!

After a lovely stir fry of chicken pad thai,  there was time to struggle with an Auracaria crossword and a tot of malt whisky before bed.

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