Wednesday 10 August 2011

Going coastal

Rather than dwell on the uncivil unrest affecting some of England's cities (which, in its way, is the human condition in microcosm - here's a problem, let's make it worse), as a little light relief, I bring you the final instalment of the Tense Team Tour of Orkney 2011.

You will recall, dear reader, that it was a time fraught with challenges brought about by Our Lass's last minute knee operation. More cautious minds might have decided to cancel the trip, however after a period of reflection, we decided to go ahead, but scale back our endeavours and seek easy solutions where possible.

The latter half of the holiday was spent on Westray, which offered plenty of opportunity to enjoy the rugged scenery of the Atlantic coast and explore the gentler, more sheltered bays.

This picture was taken whilst standing on a natural arch called the Scaun, showing the Admiral perched on top of the 14m cliffs, above a rather neat sea cave. The coast of the Aikerness peninsula was always impressive and awe inspiring.

From the same vantage point, looking west, there were countless sea caves being formed by the steady erosion of the Orkney Flagstones of the Middle Devonian age (about 380 million years old).

This picture was taken looking back, eastwards, toward the Scaun, a natural arch mentioned earlier, which has three entrances. The top of the cliffs are effectively a wave cut platform, as the storm beach is set way back from the edge. In Winter, it must be very dangerous standing on this spot.

The bay at Grobust is suffering much erosion of its sand. Slightly further inland, the Neolithic archaeology, at Noltland, is the subject of a rescue dig to gain as much information as possible from the site, before it is lost to the wind and sea.

At Noup Head, we were able to sit on the cliff top, watching the comings and goings at the sea bird colony and casting our eyes to the ocean in a fruitless search for Orcas. Our Lass is perched on a folding stool, resting after gingerly hobbling from the car park and passed the lighthouse.

Over on the east side of the island, the sheltered Bay of Swartmill offered the opportunity for the second group photo of the trip. Here, when not posing between the sand dunes, we spent a morning discovering Sand Martins, rock pools and Lyme Grass. For the photo, Our Lass's crutches were hidden away behind the dune, as she balanced on her good leg!

It remains for me to thank the many folk who made this holiday such an enjoyable experience: the staff at Flybe, Loganair and Orkney Ferries; absolutely everyone at the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory; the North Ronaldsay Trust including Mark at the Lighthouse Cafe; Mr and Mrs Muir for their hospitality; Linda and Kathleen at Skaill Cottage; Mrs Groat; the Pierowall Hotel, the good folk at Westraak and, of course, the Admiral and Our Lass.

The sun now sets on our Orcadian adventures for another year, but we have fond memories, new found knowledge and a burning desire to return once more.

Sunset from the links at Noltland


Jimio said...

Amazing Scenery!

Imperfect and Tense said...


Sorry, slipped into Monica mode there :o)