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Scotland 2017 – Day 24

July 30th, 2017 No comments

Saturday, May 27, 2017

We start hearing announcements over the intercom system about 6:00am. Whatever happened to sleeping in? Every 15 minutes or so another announcement. Drivers report to the car deck in 30 minutes, etc. etc. Ok, ok, I am getting up. We hear clanging of chains reverberate through the metal hull of the ship and realize that we are docked and they are freeing the large semi-trucks and tanker trucks below us. I leave to drive the car off while Vicky has her turn in the shower. When I return we will go and have a hot breakfast before we leave the ship.

Stonehaven is a picturesque little town not far from the bustling Aberdeen. It seems to be a quaint little fishing town with its stone buildings surrounding a small harbor. As we arrive the tide appears to be out and some of the boats are beached in the sand. From Stonehaven there is a coastal trail that will take us to Dunnottar Castle.
Stonehaven Stonehaven
Stonehaven Stonehaven
Stonehaven Stonehaven
Stonehaven Stonehaven

The trail rises steeply as we leave the town and soon we are rewarded with a great view overlooking the harbor area. As we continue along the trail we spot a circular structure with several columns, kind of like a very small round parthenon. It turns out that this is a war memorial. From here we can see the castle ruins in the distance, but still have a ways to go. There are several people on the path hiking up to the castle some with their dogs along for the exercise as well. In some places the drop off to the ocean is rather steep and there are jagged rocks below where the surf is rushing in.
Stonehaven Stonehaven

As we make it to Dunnottar the defensive position of the castle is obvious. It is joined to the mainland by just a narrow strip of land and is positioned high on the cliffs above the sea. The path up is steep with many steps, but at the top we empty out on top a large flat grassy area with several buildings surrounding the area. I really enjoy visiting the castle ruins because of the photographic opportunities and this castle appears to be one of the best. The number of structures and the dramatic ocean setting foretell of great opportunity and I can’t wait to explore. We start off on the left side and visit the Keep which looks down on the one entryway to the castle allowing castle archers to pick off attackers, then along this side are the stables and the smithy. As we come around to the back things get more interesting. The double arches of the chapel entrance still stand, but the roof is missing giving a feeling of emptiness. Behind this are the royal suites and the views out to the ocean are fantastic. As we go down the steps to the lower levels we discover where the bread was baked and just across from it stands the brewery.
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle

There is a trail leading further down to a small room called the smugglers keep. So Charles II was king of England, Ireland, and Scotland and the older brother of James II which we have already heard much about. Apparently the English Parliament was already creating a strong power base and had sent Oliver Cromwell to hunt him down after his coronation in Scotland. Charles fled to mainland Europe and the Honours of Scotland were taken to Dunnottar. Cromwell followed and laid siege to the castle. It was the wives of the minister and the governor who smuggled the royal crown, sword, and sceptre out of the castle and hid them under the flooring of an old church nearby.

As we come back up to the castle we enter a dungeon area. As you have surmised there was no separation of church and state. The Whigs were an anti-Royalist group (anti-James II) associated with the Covenanters (Scottish Presbyterians). They refused to to swear allegiance to the new king James II and a group of 167 men and women were imprisoned here in this dungeon. Here they stayed in horrible conditions for a couple months. A few tried to escape, some falling to their deaths on the rocks below, some making it, and others were recaptured. Transport to New Jersey was arranged for those still alive to colonize America, only about half of them made it.

Out in the courtyard is a large cistern or fish pond. It seems remarkable that there would be any fresh water here at all being totally surrounded by the ocean. But it is said that even during the longest sieges, there was still a good supply of drinking water here.

As we come around to the last side of the castle, we overlook the rocks and ocean below. We have been exploring for well over an hour now and we are struck by just how large this place is. Still it seems each little window holds a different perspective of the cliffs, the water, the birds, or the coastline beyond. It’s even romantic, well except for the Whigs dungeon area.

As we leave the castle, I spot a large camera suitcase labeled National Geographic and soon I see a photographer taking a shot of the castle. I wonder if there will be a feature story soon. We return on the same coastal trail that we used to get up here. It has gotten rather crowded being that it is midday and there are a good many tourist making there way up or returning as we are. After about an hours hike we see the fishing village of Stonehaven below and notice that the tide had come in and once grounded boats were now afloat.

The harbor area is alive. Kids are running on the beach, jumping over or dunking under the lines that secure the boats. A man is playing frisbee with his dog. Mothers chat to one another while keeping an eye on their young ones below, ice cream melting off onto the sand.
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle

When we return to the car we have a decision to make. Do we drive down to Edinburgh and brave possible rain to see a few sights, or do we return over to Glasgow and take it easy. The decision is to go ahead and make the drive over to Glasgow and perhaps see the cathedral there.
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle

The Glasgow Cathedral is built in a gothic medieval style and was open when we arrive. There is a chorus practicing for an upcoming service, but we are free to look around. There is a crypt on the lower level and holds the tomb of Saint Mungo. The huge columns and arched roof areas down here are quite impressive especially having already seen the size of the church above and knowing what they must support.
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle Dunnottar Castle

It is just a short way now to the Marriott near the airport where we will be staying tonight and preparing for our long flight back home tomorrow. Once there we decide just to stay in and eat in the restaurant there. As we wait on our food we reminisce about all the sights that we have seen, the history that we have learned, the people and culture we have experienced. Yes, it was a good vacation.

Categories: Ireland 2017, Vacations Tags:

Scotland 2017 – Day 23

July 29th, 2017 No comments

Friday, May 26, 2017

As Vicky is taking her shower I am looking out over the nearby pasture, and I see a large rabbit. I find my binoculars to get a closer look as he was like huge, but he has gone down the rabbit hole so to speak.

The breakfast area looks out into a large backyard which borders on shore of Loch Stenness, and it is a beautiful morning. The skies are blue and white swans swim in the peaceful waters of the loch. We enjoy our breakfast of fruits, yogurt, granola, eggs, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, and coffee as we relax and look out the windows. Vicky points across the bay and says that’s where we are going first, the Stones of Stenness.

We pack up and just around the small bay to get to the parking area. There are several standing stones standing about 15 feet tall and are rather thin given their height. This is not a complete circle as what we saw the other day, but is remarkable in that there are a number of neolithic monuments so very close together here. Just off to the east is the Maeshowe, which is a chambered tomb, and just across a narrow bridge and over the hill is the Ring of Brodgar, which we visit next. There is preservation work in progress at the ring due to the high number of visitors. They are placing a drainage system under a pathway around the ring to help keep the land from eroding, so part of it is roped off. Nevertheless, this is an impressive circle about the size of a football field in diameter. We walk around the stones taking in the cracks and character of each, then we make our way back to the car.
Standing Stones of StennesStanding Stones of Stennes
Standing Stones of StennesStanding Stones of Stennes
Standing Stones of StennesStanding Stones of Stennes
Standing Stones of StennesStanding Stones of Stennes
Standing Stones of StennesStanding Stones of Stennes
Standing Stones of StennesStanding Stones of Stennes
Standing Stones of StennesStanding Stones of Stennes
Standing Stones of StennesStanding Stones of Stennes
Standing Stones of StennesStanding Stones of Stennes
Standing Stones of StennesStanding Stones of Stennes

Skara Brae is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which requires timestamped tickets to access. Vicky has pre-paid and we have 9:30 am vouchers in hand as we approach the desk. The visit to the Maeshowe also requires timestamped tickets, but we were unable to get them online. The plan was to purchase them here before entering Skara Brae, but they no longer provide them at this office and we will have to drive back into Stenness to another tourist office.

Skara Brae is a neolithic cluster village of about eight individual houses. It was built about 3100 BC. The houses are constructed of stone walls that are dug into the surrounding midden. The midden was an area where the early people would pile up shells or bones after consuming their meals. It provided stability and insulation to their wall constructions. The furniture such as cupboard, tables and bed boxes were all made of stone. One cupboard even seems to have a secret compartment behind it. The bed boxes were a small enclosed area of the house which give a bit of privacy and would perhaps be stuffed with soft grasses to be more comfortable. Speaking with a park attendant my attention is drawn to the pasture just behind him. Rabbits, rabbits, everywhere. There is a whole tribe of rabbits.
Skara BraeSkara Brae
Skara BraeSkara Brae
Skara BraeSkara Brae
Skara BraeSkara Brae
Skara BraeSkara Brae
Skara BraeSkara Brae
Skara BraeSkara Brae
Skara BraeSkara Brae
Skara BraeSkara Brae
Skara BraeSkara Brae

Leaving Skara Brae we make our way back to the Maeshowe Visitor’s Center which is near the hotel we stayed in last night. We are hoping they have remaining time slots for today’s tours. You can only visit the site on a tour provided by Historic Scotland, and the groups are limited to about 15 people. The last tour of the day begins at 4:00 pm…will we make it?

As we approach the desk and make our request the ranger says, well that’s the last two. I am thinking “wow, really we just made it”. It was however the last two for the 3:00 tour. Ok, mission accomplished.

While we were back in this area of the island we decide to make a stop at the small Unstan Cairn. Vicky had read that you would need a flashlight, so with her headlamp in hand we stroll up the trail. There is a beautiful horse grazing, but despite my attempts to get him to raise his head he just keeps on eating. It turns out improvements have been made and a window providing natural light has been placed on the top of the mound. The entry is a bit low and narrow, but it opens up inside and we can see a small cell built into the wall that would have held the remains of some ancient people. As we are returning to the car another group of people are making noise and trying to get the horse to look up. He ignores them as well.
Unstan CairnUnstan Cairn
Unstan CairnUnstan Cairn
Unstan CairnHorses near Unstan Cairn

The Broch of Gurness is on the north east side of Orkney. It is an Iron Age village built around 300 BC, but was later inhabited by the Picts and there is evidence of Norse occupants as well. It looks across to the Rousay Island which is also part of the Orkney archipelago. Similar to the broch we saw on the Isle of Lewis, this was a multi-level round tower construction that would house an important family. Surrounding the tower are a good number of individual houses which made up the community. There seem to be little lanes running between the dwellings, and all are within the surrounding wall of the community for protection.
Broch of GurnessBroch of Gurness
Broch of GurnessBroch of Gurness
Broch of GurnessBroch of Gurness
Broch of GurnessBroch of Gurness
Broch of GurnessBroch of Gurness
Broch of GurnessBroch of Gurness

As we are heading back down south for our tour, we make a stop at the Click Mill. This mill was built in 1820 and is the last of the horizontal water mills on Orkney. There isn’t much of a place to park and we have to walk across a pasture filled with sheep, but we are following the signs so I guess we are on the correct path. Previously we had noticed that sheep had been painted in different colors on different parts of their bodies, supposedly to tell one herd from another. Here the sheep all have numbers painted on them. The number 39 sheep mother with her two number 39 lambs nearby. The number 8 sheep with her number 8 lambs, etc. Once we get to the mill we can see outside the mill but the door is locked so we don’t get to see the equipment. Ok, off back across the sheep pasture and on to the Visitor’s Center.
Click MillClick Mill

At the Visitor’s Center our group loads up on a minibus that will take us over to Maeshowe with our tour guide. It is just a few minutes before we are there and begin our walk up the grassy path to what looks like a large grass covered mound on top of a slight rise in the landscape. Maeshowe is a chambered tomb build around 3000 BC. It aligns with some of the other Neolithic sites in that area. Most notably there is a large standing stone in a field far to the southeast that perfectly aligns with the entryway so that only in the few days surrounding the Winter Solstice does light enter the passageway. The entryway is rather low, about 3 feet tall so that you have to kind of bear walk quite a way up the passage before you can stand up in the central area. The central area has side cells on each of the remaining three walls inside. As we look up we see that the roof is not a continuation of the corbelled stone as you would expect but appears to be whitewashed bricks forming the arched roof. In 1861 the local farmer was approached by a group of archaeologist who wanted to investigate the mound. As they dug through the roof they found quite a bit of debris filling the internal tomb area.
Visitors CenterVicky at the Visitors Center

It turns out that in the 12th century a group of Vikings were caught in a fierce winter storm and in order to survive they entered in through the roof and took shelter. How do we know this you may ask? Well they left graffiti on the walls. They must have been rather bored as they left 30 inscriptions on the walls; one of the largest collections of Runic writing in Europe. Most of them basically say “I was here”. “Ofram son of Sigurd carved these runes”, “These runes were carved by the man most skilled in runes in the Western Ocean”, “Arnfithr Matr carved these runes with this axe owned by Gauk”. Then up high above the entryway: “Tholfir Kolbeinsson carved these runes high up”. Then there is a more bawdy side, “Ingigerth is the most beautiful of all women” (placed beside a carving of a dog) and “Thorni fucked”. It is rather funny when you think about it. Here in 1861, this fellow discovers this ancient writing and he calls for an expert in the field perhaps down at the University in Cambridge. “I don’t care how expensive it is, just get him in the next carriage up here”. Then as the translations come forth it simply reveals that young men who are bored will write their names on the wall and talk about sex.

But what about the roof you may ask. The archaeologist of the day were not known for their careful excavations of these sites. In fact one of his peers of the day describes him as having “crude techniques, lack of inspiration, and general inability to publish”. Ouch! So when he was through he simply left the farmer with a huge hole in the ground that his sheep would fall into. The farmer had to then restore the roof as best as he could, thus the bricks.

After the ride back to the Visitor’s Center we get back in our car to head up the the northwest corner of Orkney for it is now low-tide. The Brough of Birsay is only accessible from the mainland of Orkney by a small concrete walkway across the tidal pools at low tide. This is the site of an early Pictish settlement which was later taken over by the Norsemen, but today it seems to be the site of sun worshipers. The day has been beautiful with blue skies and plenty of sunshine. Here we see people with shoulders already showing a reddish hue, still sitting in their lawn chairs. Kids are playing in the exposed sand between the ocean rocks, and fishermen are hauling in their boat with their catch of the day. We walk along the now exposed walkway looking into the tidal pools and occasionally see a crab or two.
Brough of BirsayBrough of Birsay
Brough of BirsayBrough of Birsay

Once we make it to the other side we investigate the ruins. Here in the 8th century the Pict people were able to create small pieces of bronze such as brooches for their robes. There is also one stone that is carved in the Pictish style. In the 9th century the site had become a Norse church and settlement. The stone outlines we see are from that time period. The landscape slants up from the ocean on this side at about a 20 degree pitch to end in cliffs on the otherside with a lighthouse prominently featured at the top. As the walk up toward the lighthouse I notice a multitude of holes in the grass. A sign earlier indicated that they have puffins on this island, but their holes are usually right on the coastline and these are all over. Rabbits, rabbits, another tribe of rabbits. I see them now every once and again. As we are walking past a rocky crag there appears to be a little cat face peering out. Then as we get closer he flees down into the crag and we are sure of it. Well that explains the carcass we saw a while back. We watch the waves coming in along the cliffs for a while and keep an eye out for puffins, but soon it is time to head back so as not to be caught by the incoming tide.
Brough of BirsayBrough of Birsay
Brough of BirsayBrough of Birsay
Brough of BirsayBrough of Birsay
Brough of BirsayBrough of Birsay
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<a class=Brough of BirsayBrough of Birsay

In is getting late in the day now so we head down to Kirkwall to take in a few more sights and have some dinner. The St. Magnus Cathedral is a rather large red stone Romanesque style cathedral built in 1137. We are getting to the door just at 6:00 and unfortunately this is their closing time. Walking around the block we see the ruins of a large stone tower on the corner. This was the Bishop’s Palace and was built at the same time as the cathedral. Next to it is the Earl’s Palace built in 1607 by Patrick Earl of Orkney. Patrick was one of the most vicious earls in Scotland, torturing and executing many of the people of Orkney who displeased him, and the palace was built using forced labor. Patrick was executed for treason in 1615 and this was the site of a ferocious battle at that time. However today is peaceful as the light filters through the trees. A man approaches with two very large dogs and he takes a seat on a nearby bench. I ask him if those are Irish Wolfhounds; he chuckles and says wrong country, those are Scottish Deerhounds. They are very similar in appearance and were used in earlier days to hunt deer in the area, but today they are mostly family friends lounging by the fireplace.
Phone boothPhone booth
St. Magnus CathedralSt. Magnus Cathedral
St. Magnus CathedralSt. Magnus Cathedral
St. Magnus CathedralSt. Magnus Cathedral
St. Magnus CathedralSt. Magnus Cathedral
The Earl’s PalaceThe Earl’s Palace
The Earl’s PalaceThe Earl’s Palace
The Earl’s PalaceThe Earl’s Palace

For dinner we make our way down to Helgi’s which Vicky has picked out and see that it is standing room only. Well it is a Friday night. As we make our way to the bar we ask when they might have an opening, but the answer is 9:00, may be. Sigh. There also doesn’t appear to be much else for restaurants in the area. She did indicate that we could have a seat at the bar without reservations. We obtain the one vacant chair and hope for another one opening up soon as we ask for a menu. They offer a flight of Orkney beers so we get to try a sampling of “Dark Island”, “Red MacGregor”, and “Orkney Gold” while we wait on our dinner. It is quite a wait as the kitchen staff must be way behind. I am finally able to obtain a bar stool as the tomato basil soup and the seafood salad arrives. So it all worked out in the end.

Our ferry tonight doesn’t depart until 11:45pm, so we still have a lot of time to kill. Vicky suggests that we can drive down to the Italian Chapel which is the only other notable tourist attraction in this area that she is aware of. We have had a full day! The Italian Chapel was built during World War II by Italian prisoners of war who were brought to Orkney’s war camp. They built the chapel from whatever materials they could obtain from their work as prisoners there on the island. It is near sunset as we leave and make our way to the Northlink ferry terminal.
Italian ChapelItalian Chapel
Highland CowsHighland Cows

After check-in we put our car in the designated lane and head for the terminal building. Here in the waiting area we are greeted by 20 or so sugar crazed school aged kids. We cautiously make our way along the outskirts of the raucous kids to find seats that appear to be relatively safe. One chaperone is advising the kids to be on their best behavior as other people have also paid to be able to sleep on the ferry tonight. The other chaperone is busily handing out more sugar-laden snacks from a large white bag. Unbelievable. Finally we can take no more and we head back to the quiet car. The man in the car lane next to us is obviously asleep; I wonder who it is that will wake him up when it is time to board. I feel like it too, but I better not.

Tonight we have a room on the ferry that will travel from Kirkwall down to Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland. Although it will dock at 7:00am, we can stay aboard until 9:00 and have breakfast, so that is our plan. Soon we see the ferry coming in and the unloading of the vehicles commences, large semi-trucks down to a group of bicyclist depart. Then it is our turn to board, park our car, and go upstairs to our room. It is a small room with twin beds, but it does have a small bathroom with a toilet and a shower even. We quickly prepare for bed… it has been a loooooong day.

Categories: Ireland 2017, Vacations Tags:

Scotland 2017 – Day 22

July 27th, 2017 No comments

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Today is the day. It is here at last. We get to go in search of the elusive “Nessie” Loch Ness Monster. I’m excited, but we better eat a hearty breakfast before we hit the road. Because, well, just who knows. Along the way we pass Eilean Donan Castle once more.
Eilean Donan CastleEilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan CastleEilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan CastleEilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan CastleEilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan CastleEilean Donan Castle

The Jacobite Freedom cruise boat departs from the Clansman Harbor at noon on the shore of Loch Ness and is about a two hours drive. The road is a bit twisty and winding as we drive through the Scottish Highlands, but it is at least a two way road, that is until ….

We are driving along a forested road, when all of a sudden a police motorcycle comes blasting past us in the oncoming lane. He is furiously motioning for everyone to get off to the side of the road as he roars past. Well there is no where to go. There is basically no shoulder, no pull out, just trees and rocks, and we are coming to a curve up ahead, so we can’t see whatever it is that had this guy so excited. The car in front of us stops and we stop behind it, the car behind us manages to back into the small pullout that we had passed just a while ago. Ok, so now what. The car ahead of us decides to cautiously proceed and we cautiously follow. The road is clear as we make our way through a set of curves, and we still see nothing. Then a police car is approaching and makes a pushing motion for us to get off the road, fortunately the road has widened a bit and we are able to comply. Then we see this huge cylindrical object being transported on a large flatbed truck. It is slowly making its way around the curves of the road, more or less taking up the whole road. No wonder the police escort.

As we are nearing the loch we see a caution sign “Feral Goats for 2 miles”. Well I have never seen a sign like that before. We keep an eye out, but no goats are to be seen. Finally we arrive at the Clansman Harbor just a bit before noon.
NessieNessie

The earliest recorded sighting of Nessie was during St. Columba’s visit in 565. Yes, the Irish abbot from the Isle of Iona was on a missionary visit when Nessie attacked a man in the party. St. Columba then banished Nessie to the depths of the loch. Since then there have been quite a number of sightings and grainy photographs, so who’s to say? There is a radar fish finder in the cabin of the boat, but on such a beautiful day we head up top. The water in the loch is a murky brown from the high peat content, but it has been surveyed to be 755 feet deep, the second deepest in Scotland. Can the fabulous fish finder find freaky feral fish on the frigid fluid floor?
Loch NessLoch Ness

We stop at the ruins of Urquhart Castle to get out and explore a bit. Like many castles the defensible location was important. It is on a headland overlooking the loch and partially surrounded by water, the remaining side was defended by a large ditch with a drawbridge. There were quite a number of skirmishes at the castle and it exchanged hands between Scottish clans and English lords a number of times beginning in the late 1200’s. In 1690, the castle was in the possession of pro-Protestant forces, and when a sizable Jacobite force laid siege they blew up the gatehouse to insure that it would not be occupied by them. So now it is a romantic ruin nestled in the Scottish highlands overlooking the loch. Soon our cruise boat returns and we sit in the warm sun enjoying the ride back to the harbor.
Urquhart CastleUrquhart Castle
Urquhart CastleUrquhart Castle
Urquhart CastleTrebuchete at Urquhart Castle
Urquhart CastleTrebuchete wheels at Urquhart Castle
Urquhart CastleTrebuchete at Urquhart Castle
Urquhart CastleUrquhart Castle
Urquhart CastleUrquhart Castle
Urquhart CastleUrquhart Castle
Urquhart CastleUrquhart Castle
Urquhart CastleMallard ducks at Urquhart Castle
Urquhart CastleUrquhart Castle

Today has a good bit of driving on the schedule as we are headed up to the most northern point of the mainland to catch a ferry over to Orkney tonight, so we get on the road in short order. We are backtracking along the twisty forest road by the loch when “crapola” there in front of the car on the road are several feral goats. Vicky has nails in my left arm and is breathlessly croaking “stop, stop, stop”, but I successfully maneuver the car avoiding goat goulash for dinner. Well I guess that is why they have that caution sign.

We get to Scrabster in plenty of time before we need to check-in for the Northlink Ferry, so we scout the area and see a lighthouse nearby. As we are walking out the road to the lighthouse we see a sign for a small hike out to Holborn Head which is a point of land overlooking the Pentland Firth that separates the mainland of Scotland from the Orkney Islands. The hike takes us behind the lighthouse and through a couple sheep pastures. Soon we can see a small cairn marking Holborn Head and we make our way along the trail to it. It is a rocky cliff area overlooking the ocean waves below. Visibility is good and we can see the first Orkney island, Hoy in the distance. We take a little time to breath the fresh sea air and then we make our way back to the ferry terminal.
ScrabsterScrabster
ScrabsterScrabster
ScrabsterScrabster

The Northlink ferry is larger than the Caledonian Macbrayne ferries that we have been on to date. I suppose the waters of the North Atlantic may be quite challenging at various times of the year. We have vouchers for a 3-course dinner so we head off to the cafeteria to pick out an appetizer, main course, dessert and beverages. Finding seats on the starboard side by a window we are hoping to see the Old Man of Hoy, which is a 450 foot sea stack off the coast of Hoy. The red sandstone cliffs of Hoy are impressive as we pass by. Having finished our dinner, we wander down to the lounge area and are surprised to see a group of folk singers with guitars, accordions, and such casually performing several songs. But soon the party must come to an end as it is time to go down to the car deck.
Northlink ferryNorthlink ferry
Northlink ferryNorthlink ferry
Northlink ferryNorthlink ferry
Northlink ferryThe Old Man of Hoy
Northlink ferryThe Old Man of Hoy
Northlink ferryThe Old Man of Hoy
Northlink ferryThe Old Man of Hoy

There are a number of semi-trucks and tanker trucks on this voyage and they are all lashed down to the floor of the ship. They really seem to have things well organized and I have been rather surprised at how smoothly things get loaded and unloaded in such a timely manner.

It is a short drive from where we dock in Stromness on the Orkney mainland to our hotel for the night. It is still light out as sunset will be about 10 pm this far north. The landscape looks almost like a golf course with rolling hills and green grass all around.

Categories: Ireland 2017, Vacations Tags: