16.08.2016 - 16.08.2016 22 °C
Tuesday, 16 August 2016… What a great place to wake up. No creaking floors, no slamming doors and a bed that doesn’t cripple you. The sun was shining brightly very early. I must have forgotten how to make toast as I almost set the fire alarm off. Ross came to the rescue of course and gave me a look. We were at the ticket shop at 8am and it was so quick that we returned to the room for a bit. We headed for the boat at 8.30 and found everyone on board. We had to stand down the back. Yes, we were off to Orkney.
The ferry ride across the Pentland Firth (links the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea) was memorable. It took us towards Stroma and then across to the port of Burwick. It was a very pleasant boat ride indeed - blue skies and a rolling sea. A tour bus met us there and we were off. I was surprised to see much the same views as John O’Groats – farms, flat land and blue ocean. It was very beautiful. The bus driver said that we had managed to experience their “one day of Summer”. We don’t know how we were so lucky to have such glorious weather.
The guide (and driver) pointed out Scapa Flow, Churchill Barriers and the many ships that were sunk here during the war. Our first stop was Kirkwall. We managed to find the main church where a flower festival for books was being prepared. From Kirkwall, we went to Stromness. We were able to see the Island of Hoy. Apparently, yesterday, the top of the island was shrouded in cloud. Stromness was very quiet. We were taken to the Ring of Brodgar and Standing Stones of Stenness. One of the main visits was to Skara Brae, the Neolithic village unearthed after a storm. Finally, on our way back to the ferry we called into the Italian Chapel, built for worship by Italian POWs during the war.
Now the trip over was marvellous. The ferry was late getting us. The wind had increased quite a bit. I tried to be brave and sat on top of the ferry. It was the longest 40 minutes I have experienced for some time. I kept my eyes glued to the side as the boat was rock and rolling. If I looked ahead, it would just go up and down. I could not speak. I just hung on. Finally, we got through the cross currents and into the smooth water near John O’Groats.