The crossing was ok but after about three quarters of an hour I started to feel nauseous. I was glad when the ferry docked at Stromness.
There was a folk festival going on, on Orkney for the weekend. Stromness was very busy. The town centre sign took us up a narrow cobbled street with shops either side and passing places for the traffic coming the other way. Not your average high street. We couldn’t find any parking so left Stromness and headed out to Kirkwall hoping to maybe find a pub on the way for some lunch. There are no pubs on the way. What there is, is lots of moorland, hills and sheep. Lots of sea as well. You can never forgot you are on an island on Orkney.
We reached Kirkwall and parked the bike opposite the harbour outside a pub called The Shore. Martyn had haddock and chips and I had a ploughmans salad with lots of scrummy Orkney cheese.
Once we had finished we rode to Paul and Lotty’s. We already knew Paul was at work and Lotty was out but the door had been left unlocked and a note on the door said to turn left into the kitchen and make ourselves at home. Underneath the note someone had left another note saying thanks very much but his name was Keith! Keith was a delivery driver apparently. It’s a bit strange walking into someone’s house especially when you don’t really know them. Paul is Martyn’s cousin but they hadn’t seen each other for a few years. I have to say though that I immediately felt at home. The kitchen had a lovely big pine table in the middle and the whole house was very homely.
Eventually everyone arrived home including the dog, Flo, a gorgeous black lab who was very friendly and loved being made a fuss of. Dinner was spaghetti Bol and garlic bread which was very nice. We were given Halina’s room to sleep in which was lovely as it had a very smart en suite attached. There were a couple of girls from Sweden staying and a young man from Skye as well. Friends of Halina’s from Uni. It was a busy house.
Sunday and the weather was windy but we were up early as there is a lot to see on Orkney. Paul had gone to work but the rest of the house was still asleep when we left. A cockerel and a chicken appeared from nowhere to see us off, the cockerel being very noisy and probably waking the whole island up.
Our first stop was the Italian chapel. A chapel built during WW2 by Italian prisoners of war who were imprisioned on Orkney. The chapel is amazing. It was made from two Nissan huts and the inside is painted to look like brickwork and ornate brickwork. The altar is painted like something out of the Sistine chapel, very beautiful.
The lamp hanging from the ceiling on the right hand side of the photo above was made from a bully beef tin! There is wrought iron work in the chapel and it was all done by the prisoners. There is a photo taken as the chapel was finished like the one above. The bell in the original photo was made from cardboard.
The prisoners also made three Churchill barriers. The barriers were made to stop the German ships from accessing the islands. They have been constructed with a road on top of the barrier which creates a causeway from island to island. During the end of the First World War, the Germans sailed their entire fleet to Scapa Flow to await their future. They then sank their ships. Some have been salvaged but some still remain and you can see the ships lying half in and half out of the water. It’s very eerie.
After we left there we rode to the Standing stones of Steness. They are a similar thing to Stonehenge, there were sheep in the field and it was muddy. Getting on and off the bike has had me trailing mud across the seat!
From there we went to Skara Brae which is a Neolithic village. It was discovered in 1850 when a storm uncovered it. It is a very well preserved Stone Age village. The furniture was made of stone. There was a dresser for storing prized possessions, a couple of beds and a hearth in the middle of the house. The houses were connected by covered passages but they all retained a sense of privacy. No one knows why the village died, maybe another storm covered it up. It rained while we were there and as it was outside I was glad I had my crash helmet with me.
We rode round a lot of roads on the island. The roads are virtually empty and straight. Very good for motorbikes but as seems to be usual in North Scotland, it was windy with occasional showers of rain. Our wet weather gear is very efficient and neither of us get wet.
Late afternoon we rode back to the house. Paul was at work still and Lotty was working in the cloche in the garden. Lotty made a wonderful dinner, we had roast pork with all the trimmings. Very very nice. We sat talking after dinner, Martyn and Paul did a lot of reminiscing. Eventually it was bedtime and we said our goodbyes to Paul and Lotty, who were both heading off to work early this morning.
This morning (Monday) we were up early to pack the bike and get to the ferry for 10am. We were loaded on last with two other motorbikes and we were back on the mainland by around 12.40. The sea was a bit choppy today. It made Martyn feel quite ill but I was ok if I didn’t look at the sea or move about.
We had a wonderful time in Orkney and were made to feel very welcome. We will definitely go back as there is still so much to explore.