The Hamnavoe disgorged us into the dark of a Stromness night. We turned on the GPS, into which we had programmed Warbeth Bay. Unfortunately it took the old girl a while to gain her satellites and her wits and she sent us the wrong way initially. I am pretty sue we drove through parts of Stromness we were not strictly meant to be in, or should have been going in the other direction or something.
Once the idiot machine had her act together we made it to Warbeth car park. It was pitch dark and we could not see what the track was like running down to the beach car park and so we pitched up at the cemetery by the toilets, thinking that we would be up early and out of the way before anybody might complain at us.
We expected to sleep very soundly here and had not reckoned on the resident cat miaowing for attention all night!
We had made a Policy Decision before setting off on holiday that we would use today as part of the holiday. No getting up at a silly hour for the early boat from Kirkwall, no Tesco, no stupidly kicking our heels just to pass time. The idea of parking up outside Stromness was to allow us to have a rare day in that town and to explore (and test the Fish and Chips, of which we had read good reports.) I had wanted for a long time to visit Warbeth and so it was natural to choose to park here and to take time after breakfast to explore.
The cat woke us early. Not Teddy, the kirkyard cat. Mr L took the dog out for the necessary and investigated the track to the beach car park, pronouncing it Brunhilde-friendly. So, while I was still in bed, he moved the van down to the lower car park out of the way of anyone who might find it offensive that were parked by the burial ground. (Yes, I know that sounds stupid but it does happen. Some people are just Weird but it’s easier not to antagonise than it is to apologise for offence caused.)
The first thing that I saw when the curtains were drawn was a seal swimming across my field of view and then a Heron took off from the rocks and flew past. I suddenly felt very happy to be home in Orkney, despite the grey sky and light rain.
It’s a popular dog-walking spot and people and dogs came and went constantly as I was preparing breakfast. The tide was almost fully in but there was room for Nell to play and we walked across the remaining sand and back before taking off on the footpath around the head.
Warbeth offers fine views of Hoy. I could have wished for better light but the sun was not entirely absent and there will be other days.
I noticed what appeared to be a cairn or a remarkable rock balancing on the beach. As I came closer I was evermore impressed at its scale – someone had shown patience and dedication here. As I photographed it and moved around for different angles, I found that it was no cairn nor a simple rock pile for art’s sake but a fireplace! Complete with seating and windbreak. A beautiful piece of handiwork.
As we walked around the head the Hamnavoe returned from her morning trip to Scrabster. I was able to photograph the overly-friendly cat on our return past the burial ground. It was to turn out to be a very cat-ish day, in fact.
We drove off to Stromness, where earlier research had revealed that there may be suitable parking space at the old Academy (we had been unable to park anywhere on our last visit). The GPS got us there but the car park lacked space for Brunhilde. There was no room in the long stay on Harbour road either. We ended up in the Leisure Centre car park and had to walk all the way back into town.
We drew a blank on cutting a new key for the habitation door, due to them not having the right blank (ho, ho), then strolled down the town with camera.
Until it was time to buy our fish and chips, when we wandered back again. Verdict – probably the best we have had in a very long time, actually. Hot and crispy, golden chips looked very appealing. Like the ones in Ullapool though there was a very slightly off taste as though the frying oil was too old. Unlike Ullapool, the fish was both fresh and nicely cooked. 7/10 perhaps. Sadly the old Non-brewed Condiment appeared again, applied for us, so the chips were spoiled. We would return (though the shop is up for sale at present and may not be so good next time) but would take our own Malt Vinegar with us next time.
NTS: pack Sarson’s into Brunhilde before going off again.
We called in at the Pier but the ground floor was closed. It was here that I had the Card Full message on my camera so failed to get any more photos this holiday.
Having failed to replace Brunhilde’s key we left Stromness earlier than planned and went to Kirkwall to try our luck there. Again, we failed. We filled in our time by visitning the museum and shopping for cheese and sherry at Kirkness & Gorie.
And then we came home.