Stuff that occurs to me

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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmx DOT com

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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Orkney 2012 - Skara Brae, Ring of Brodgar, Stenness

While chatting to a fellow hotel-mate at breakfast she told me there's a scheduled Stagecoach bus that runs a three and a half hour trip round the West Mainland bit of Orkney, taking in Stromness, Skara Brae and Skail House, ring of Brodgar, standing stones of Stenness and then returning visitors to the Kirkwall Travel Centre at the end of the trip. Hooray for Stagecoach.

T11 Discover Orkney (it left from Stand 4 in Kirkwall Travel Centre) [PDF map of bus routes]
 Route T11T11T11
Kirkwall Travel Centre10001400
Stromness Travel CentreArr10301430
Stromness Travel CentreDep10351435
Skail Skara BraeArr10551455
Skail Skara BraeDep12251625
The Ring of BrodgarArr12401640
The Ring of BrodgarDep13101710
Kirkwall Travel Centre13301730

It was lovely to see Orkney from a bus - in warmer weather they use an open topped bus but while it was mostly dry yesterday the occasional showers were sudden and dramatic. I took lots of rubbish photos of the landscape but they don't do justice to the vast pale greyish skies with some darker moody bits and the post-rain sun lighting up the barley and grass with a rainbow for good measure. And I had it pretty much all to myself as I was the only afternoon passenger.

Alan, my driver, is from Orkney and pointed out various bits and pieces as we went past them and told me some history. Apparently there are about 20,000 people on the Orkney islands - there are about 70 in total of which 16 are inhabited. One of the islands, Graemesay (sp?) has only 26 people living on it - you'd feel a bit bad taking a boat to visit it wouldn't you?! There are 100,000 cattle up here... a worrying ratio should they ever decide to rise up and overthrow anyone. 

Wheat doesn't grow much on the island but barley does (more on that in another blog post as I'm off to find out more about Orkney's landrace 'bere' barley, the agronomy institute's working on it here) and the fields of barley are very pretty. There is a small woodland too, somebody planted it a while back - trees do fine on the island but only if someone plants them.

The area of Skara Brae and Skail House is pretty remote - there's nothing else there (bar the visitors' centre, which is always busy) and walking around the site it really does feel like the edge of the world. There's a little cove with a beach that looks onto the Atlantic Sea, which makes a very nice sound. I'll try and upload the sound recording I took of it but I suspect it will just be the sound of the wind howling into the iPhone microphone (I need a microphone spoffle). 

Here are some of the pictures I took of Skara Brae itself - this is a Neolithic site which was uncovered in the 1850s after a bad storm ripped away the earth that had been covering it. Below were a series of dwellings with a central hearth, beds inset into the walls and then - to me the oddest thing - each house had a dresser that might have been used to display items. The 'houses' were all connected and it seems to have been a nice place to live.

Skara Brae - overlooking the Atlantic OceanSkara Brae - Atlantic Ocean and some piles of stonesSkara Brae neolithic settlementSkara Brae - neolithic settlementSkara Brae - neolithic settlementSkara Brae - neolithic settlement

Other Orkney 2012 posts

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