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Paid Partnership with Destination Orkney
"See You at the Weekend"
I was recently invited to the stunning and wild Orkney by Destination Orkney in conjunction with their 'See You at the Weekend' Campaign with a view to seeing what this incredible place could offer on a short break in the spring… if you follow this link it will take you to their offers page... http://www.orkney.com/offers/weekend
Orkney has long been on my bucket list,
the ancient history involving the Vikings as well as the more recent wartime
history has fascinated me, and being passionate about exploring Scotland and
its varied landscapes just added to my want to visit this island.
The first day of my trip saw me depart from Glasgow Airport with LoganAir. Beautiful blue skies greeted me as I set foot off the plane, and after picking up the hire car from www.driveorkney.com I set off towards Stromness to book into the accommodation at The Ferry Inn (I will provide links to all travel and accommodation later). It didn’t take long to get distracted by the stunning scenery along the short (30 min) drive from Kirkwall to Stromness, beautiful tropical looking turquoise waters and rolling fields meant a few stops for photo opportunities.
After checking in I headed for a drive to Yesnaby Cliffs from Stromness only a 20min drive proving our base to be the ideal spot for exploring Orkney. I had seen many photos from Yesnaby Cliffs, but on arrival nothing could quite prepare me for the views. Have you visited this spot yet?
Yesnaby Cliffs at sunset
Day two of my short break saw me
start what was to a be a very busy and interesting day with a sunrise trip to
the Neolithic Standing Stones of Stenness within the Heart of Neolithic Orkney
UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being surrounded by these standing stones (thought to be
over 5000 years old) was quite an awe inspiring experience. From here I headed to Windwick Bay in South Ronaldsay,
crossing the Churchill Barriers which connect the island groups together and were
built in World War 2 to block the entrances to Scapa Flow, a vital
connection between the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Windwick Bay was breath-taking, great coastal
scenery and bird life, there was a huge number of nesting Fulmars to be seen as
I walked along the coastal path, and an imposing view of the Clett of Crura sea
stack in the background…
Windwick Bay and some inquisitive Fulmars
The afternoon saw me take the Creative Orkney Trail and head
along some stunning roads to visit www.hoxatapestrygallery.co.uk
and view some pieces created by acclaimed Orcadian tapestry
maker Leila Thomson. It was great to hear the stories behind a lot of her work as she showed me around her gallery
and also see beautiful art created by her daughter Jo.
A short drive from here, I stopped off at The Italian Chapel, a must see when in Orkney. This ornate and beautifully painted chapel was created by Italian prisoners of war who were sent to Orkney to build the Churchill Barriers. Constructed from two Nissen Huts joined end to end, the interior was then painted with incredible detail by a prisoner of war and gave them somewhere to worship whilst interned there! Have you visited this place before?
The Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney
Sunday, and my last full day in Orkney, saw me start the day by visiting another of Orkney's amazingly talented artist, Zoe Davidson Jewellery http://zoedavidsonjewellery.co.uk/ Zoe produces beautiful pieces inspired by the coastlines around Orkney and supports the local RNLI through sales of her work. She was kind enough to give me demonstration of how she crafts some of the delicate jewellery in her studio and it was amazing to see the work that goes into making them!
From Zoe's studio, I travelled the short distance in
Stromness to the Ness Battery http://www.nessbattery.co.uk/ to be given a guided tour by Andrew Hollinrake. Ness Battery is one of the best preserved wartime sites
in Britain and Andrew guides us through its vital role in protecting the
western approaches to Scapa Flow during both World Wars. I found it
particularly fascinating to learn that some of the guns mounted could fire up
to 9 miles from this location. Ness
Battery is a great way to spend a morning and learn about Orkneys wartime
Ness Battery, Stromness
Sunday afternoon was spent visiting Orkney Brewery www.orkneybrewery.co.uk Scotland's only Five Star brewery visitor attraction and a personal highlight for me as it is one of my favourite beers. A perfect way to reenergise before a walk to RSPB Marwick Head Nature Reserve and a walk along the cliffs to the Kitchener Memorial. Marwick Head Nature Reserve has an abundance of bird life as well as stunning views along Orkney's coastline and out into the Atlantic Ocean. In the bracing wind it was stunning to sit and watch all the birds flying along the cliffs effortlessly and although I was two days too early, you might spot some Puffins nesting along the cliff tops.RSPB Marwick Head
To finish my Sunday off, a visit to Skara Brae and the Bay of Skaill for a sunset walk was the best way to see out an amazing day of history, art and walking. Such a stunning beach and setting, and gave some time to digest and reminisce about all I had witnessed on my 'See You at the Weekend' short break...