Scotland: Orkneys – Magical Islands of the North III
We continued along the coastline to east and we were amazed with a beautiful road without holes and patches. There are just three main roads on Mainland, however, unlike ours they were in splendid condition.
There were herds of sheep on both sides of the road and large flocks of wild gooses. They were our only companions for dozens of miles. Birds used to peace, were flying away as they heard sound of our engine. The sky was suddenly darker and the grey of autumn days was brightened with red phone booths in waste land.
When we arrived at Broch of Gurness, another ancient village, the sun shined for a while and colored the whole landscape. Before we managed to get to the ruins, the sky clouded over and it started to hail. Due to a strong wind it was like to be hit with a paintball. We quickly explored the village and ran back to our car. Despite this we decided to regard Gurness as closed and moved on to Kirkwall, island’s “metropolis”. It seemed like most of interesting things were closed on purpose, thus our exploration of the town was much shorter than we had initially anticipated.
Another stop was the most well-preserved tomb in western Europe, Maeshowe. When we arrived at our destination, there were meadows everywhere and within view there was a steep grassy hill where sheep grazed on grass. Inconspicuous tomb surprised us. We had to book a guide tour first, thus we went to the infocenter, a former mill, to do this. Soon, a radiant guide took us among sheep, unlocked an iron gate and disappeared in a low and about 7 meters long corridor leading to the tomb. As we found out later, walls of the corridor were in fact one piece of giant stone. The interior of the tomb was empty for the Vikings plundered it in the 12th century. However, they didn’t manage to steal large stones and thanks to that wall paintings remained there until today. The atmosphere ethere was mysterious and you could smell must. The most interesting thing about the tom is its architectonic precision. During the winter solstice sun rays shine through narrow corridor until it reaches the opposite wall. For its wide popularity a camera was put into the tomb and people from all around the world can watch this miracle. Moved by this mystery we finished our trek in the middle part of the island and were looking forward to following days.
Text/photo: Lucie Mařasová
When one is in Scotland he/she should’t miss Edinburgh, its capital. This city located near the sea is worth at least several day stay. Still, you should bear on mind that you wouldn’t see everything.
The Scottish referendum is popular topic in world media. Even if the Scots decided not to get out of three hundred year long relationship with England. It is almost certain that London would loosen its tight to Scotland. It is a question how would Scotland do as an independent country and how its would fare on international level.
Today, we get to the last part of the series of articles on rough yet magical Scotland.
Fortunately, in south part of Lewis there are hills that flawlessly continue to Harris. Islanders also need wood so they planted there a small forest. Now I lay in a warm sleeping bag, in a tent attached to three trees, I listen to an ugly sound of drops constantly hiting my tent. Well, I have to get up eventually. After all I come here to learn about the islands, not to lay all day long.
I have almost no water, no battery in my cell left, thus I travel to Mallaig, a port town from where ferries heading to Skye, Rum, Uist and other, smaller, islands depart. Right next to the port, there is a small train station. Its loading platform has not been used for a long time, obviously. It has two platforms.
Again, I woke up cold. This time it was not on the Orkneys. It was about half the way between Inverness and Perth, close to A9 road. Islands on the north, I had left 19 hours ago. Strong wind is blowing outside. Fortunately, it does not rain.
Cold and raindrops hitting a side of my tent wake me up. It would be better if there was no thermometer for knowing that it is just 1 degree above zero is not very encouraging. Fortunately, the wind got better. I quickly pack my tent hoping that my hands will not freeze.
After a half-an-hour ride I get off in Aberdour, a fishermen town in the Forth Bay. I have no idea where to go so I just follow arrows of the Fife Coastal Path. The reason is perhaps that it goes along the railway (and thus along the coastline as well).
Already in the summer of 2011, I was in Scotland for a few days visit. But this time it was different. And maybe even a little crazy. At this time I was a fresh adult student, only with a flight ticket to home, about three hundred pounds in his pocket and an overnight stay for the first night.
The last part of our visit of the islands we spent on Mainland and neighboring island on the south. These islands are interconnected with the so-called Churchill barriers.
So what next you should miss when in Edinburg? For example Royal Yacht Britannia that traveled astonishing 1 million naval miles in its existence, it is as if the yacht traveled around the world for 40 times. In 1997 it was put out of service and today it is opened to the public.
My visit to Scotland was coming to an end, but I still had about 2,000 kilometers to go home. But Scotland is beautiful, so why hurry? So I stopped at several places on the Isle of Skye and gradually reached the highest mountain of Ben Nevis.
The Orkney Islands are located on massive cliffs north of Scottish shore. There are 70 islands and only on about 20 there is some permanent settlement.
Near the village is Yesnaby, perhaps the most popular cliffs we just had to visit. A look from above on wild waves made took one’s breath. After we explored the surroundings we headed to mysterious stones.
What comes across your mind when you hear Scotland? Most people like Scottish whiskey, kilt, Loch...