We saved some of the best for last, and after one night in Invergordon after our trip to Skye, we set off for the Orkney Islands. We were advised to check and make sure the ferry was running before leaving home, and found that the first ferry was cancelled due to high winds. The wind and rain was supposed to abate by 1 pm–our ferry was scheduled for 1:30 pm, so we decided to go ahead and go. Part way along we managed to connect with the Pentland Ferries site and found our trip was scheduled to go as scheduled. We left Invergordon a bit early to fit in a scenic detour to the Duncansby stacks, a couple of wildly sculpted rocks just off the lighthouse beyond John O’Groats. It’s possible to hike about 3/4 mile to get close to them, but the wind and rain deterred us.
The ferry was a bit late and the ride a bit bumpy, but we made it safely to Orkney. We saw a flock of eider ducks flying by, and gannets. One seal popped its head out of the water to have a look at us, but no whales.
The ferry leaves from the town of Gills, and lands at St. Margaret’s Hope near the southernmost point of the Orkney mainland. We purchased our tickets online ahead of time (one ticket for each of us and for the car R/T £140). Once on dry land, we worked our way north across the Churchill barriers, causeways built of huge cement blocks that were installed after a battleship was sunk in Scapa Flow, the huge natural harbor here. Despite the great motivation behind the project, it ended up being christened a few days after the war in Europe ended. The Churchill barriers connect two small islands with the mainland. Roads in Orkney were narrow, but in better condition than those we recently experienced on Skye. We stayed at The Foveran “food and rooms,” and had dinner there both nights. It was very comfortable and not far from Kirkwall, convenient if you have a car.
More on the sights on my next post.