We are returned from Hoy and so very glad that we went. Full details and lots of photos (I came home with 410 frames) will appear on Two Snails when I have found time to do the necessary. In the meantime, a brief précis here:
We left on the Friday lunch-time boat. Having decided overnight that it was time to take Suzie to be put to sleep, our orderly plans for the afternoon were now in disarray. I knew that taking Suzie to the vet was probably going to be far too difficult a task for Mr L and so I suggested that I take her, while he went to pick up Brunhilde and pay the bill. I’ll do a whole proper Suzie post soon.
By the time that I had completed my task at the vet and then walked over to the filling station, Mr l was coming down the road in our newly-certified home on wheels. We filled up with diesel and then called in at Tesco for supplies before heading off to the Houton ferry terminal, arriving a good 90 minutes before ferry time. We had chance to walk Nell and to take a few photos in the rain.
Disappointingly, the rain continued and visibility was poor. We decided to stay in our vehicle for the short crossing, with me promising myself the photo opportunities on the return journey.
Hoy is only 35 minutes sailing time away; I think that the driving time from Lyness to Rackwick Bay took longer than the crossing! We arrived in dismal light and a huge cloud of the infamous Horrible Hoy Midge. No wonder that we had the parking space to ourselves, nor that I chose not to hang about outside taking photographs – even though my heart was telling me that I needed to grab the views. The low cloud was draped around the shoulder of the hills and in the other direction there were huge Atlantic waves crashing on to the shore. Those bloody midges, though. UGH. Never have I been so happy that I had a can of Raid to hand.
Rain eased later and we took off to investigate the walk to the beach but it was not pleasant – our insect repellent? Didn’t. Must stock Brunhilde with a more effective product.
Dined on Gnocchi with an improvised Puttanesca-influenced sauce, fresh salad, garlic bread and a bottle of Rioja.
…was at least drier than the night before when we rose. The sea was calmer and there was more light, the cloud being less heavy – though overall the morning might best be characterised as dismal.
The day soon delivered a light drizzle, starting just as we set off on our walk to The Old Man (5.5 miles, return). I was pleased with my walk, which was the most strenuous I have taken in a very long time, reaching elevations that I have not scaled for many years now. Most of my joints held up to the task, though I was beginning to have some trouble on the last leg back to our parking spot.
The day improved after lunch and the true beauty of Rackwick began to show through. Luckily a light breeze had arrived and was keeping the worst of the midges at bay…
We revisited the beach walk and Nell had a great time.
Dined on Fillet Steak with a warm potato and asparagus salad and a creamy mushroom sauce with a bottle of Appassimento, followed by strawberries meringues and clotted cream, cheese and biscuits and a final night cap of rum. We had been joined by another mobile home but slept well and were not disturbed.
…began fair and stayed that way. It just kept on getting hotter and hotter. We took another beach walk with Nell before packing up and moving on. We were heading to the South end for some tourism activity. First stop was the Martello Tower and Barracks at Hackness on South Walls. (Yes, you read that wrong, South WALLS, not South Wales, that would be far too far away!) Apparently many of the folk who live on “Hoy” actually live on South Walls, another island attached to the larger one by a causeway.
We highly recommend the visit to Hackness. Run by Historic Scotland, admission is not cheap but the tour and the friendly and informative curator are worth every penny. A fascinating place with much photographic potential.
It was glorious up on top of the tower on such a beautiful day.
We stopped in the car park at the Eastern end of the causeway for a quick lunch, noting that this would make an overnight stop at a pinch, with a good long walk available at hand.
The afternoon, we spent at Lyness where the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum offers a surprisingly enthralling experience. I loved the visitor centre in the old oil tank – it was so very atmospheric. Free entry, lots to do. Highly recommended and do allow plenty of time, at least 2 hours, I’d say. Lots of photo potential.
Best exhibit as far as I was concerned was the Otter Bank – what a delight to see her in the flesh.
We went to check out Wee Fea for our overnight stop and it turned out to be perfect, with good level ground, picnic tables, the most magnificent views, total peace and quiet, just 5 minutes from the morning ferry… and also this.
The drone was interesting as being the model that Mr L has been considering buying. He wasted no time in engaging its operator in conversation though the chat turned out one-sided, the chap in question being very Orcadian and, to us, barely comprehensible (though very friendly.)
The midge quotient here was high and they were pretty annoying but not so bad that we could not walk out with Nell. The midges thinned out as evening fell and a haar began to form.
We dined on a sweet chilli and garlic chicken stir fry then sat and watched the view as the lights came on across Flotta, then went to bed early as I was worn out from my tourist traipsing.
The haar was thick when we woke and Lyness invisible to us. No longer the magnificent view but mercifully few midges about. Our ferry booking for 11:00 was a long way off but there was the chance that the haar was lifting and that visibility would be better down below so we set off straight after our breakfast and found it to be so. The light mist swirling about invited me to play with photographs of the old piers.
Nell had a nice walk and found herself a throw toy.
I did travel on deck but the mist meant that there were few photo opps. Mainland was basking in sunshine when we arrived and the sun only increased in strength all day. We attempted a long-anticipated fish and chip lunch in Stromness but were repelled by the absence of any motorhome parking space and thus headed off to Kirkwall without stopping in its prettier neighbour. We did pause to walk Nell at Binscarth woods and then to cook and eat lunch at Finstown. While there I took the opportunity of exploring the older kirkyard.
An abortive attempt at Inganess Bay (GPS error) saw us change plans and revert to old habits – Nell had a play at Weyland Bay instead. Tesco followed and then we were on our way home.
It was a lovely weekend but I was sore, aching and hobbling by now and very pleased to be heading home, with no further prospect of walking.
In the Tesco car park (where we pulled a lump off Brunhilde in an argument with a lamp post – let’s gloss over that) we saw another motorhome and this one had a CAT warning diamond in its window. As you may have read here, we now have to train Ted to go about with us as leaving him alone in unkind and unfair. He agrees too – he was most displeased with us when we arrived home! Anyway – we were going to approach this van to have a chat and ask how they go about travelling with a feline, but they left before we could tackle them. Luckily they were parked next to us at the ferry terminal when we arrived – we in the Sanday queue and they in the one for Westray. Mr L went to speak with them while I busied myself finding ferry tickets and other items wanted on voyage. I got out and went to join them and on my way… I saw it… their cat was an amazingly beautiful spotty, glittery handsome 3 year old Bengal boy!
Could I have been more delighted? Hardly! I was permitted to make a Full Fuss. This cat had been used to travelling from a kitten and apparently travels loose in the van. He has an igloo bed on the big bed and simply retires and curls up once the van is in motion, no longer needing a harness and leash for safety. I think Ted may prove more single-minded in his need to investigate the driving pedals however. We will be leashing him and boxing him at appropriate points.
I wish that I had stolen a quick pic of the gorgeous boy though. I have never seen such glitter.
Many more photographs and lots more detail of our trip will be appearing in Brunhilde’s very own blog in due course.
As per usual – nothing done! I cast on the second sleeve of Warriston but got no further than the initial round.