With a free morning ahead of us and rain not due until the afternoon, we headed to Scapa beach on the outskirts of Kirkwall, for a short circular walk to the south of the city (well, burgh, to be exact).
This is the view looking towards Scapa Flow, as we watched the Council's Marine Services tugs heading out to escort a tanker.
Following the road towards the pier, we picked up a footpath that headed east up a short, but steep, ascent. At the top of this, we bided a while to catch our breath and stare across the bay towards the Scapa Distillery.
We continued along a rough track, taking in further views of the Flow...
before leaving it behind us, as we headed eastwards away from the coast.
There was a short section of 'A' road to negotiate, quiet enough on a Sunday morning, before we turned onto a bridle path towards Inganess Bay. On the grass verge of the main road, I had to chuckle at this caffeine-fiend of a snail.
Fast food, slow mollusc.
The bridle path, so the sign said, was created in the early 1980s, and certainly some of the tree planting would corroborate that. The shrubs, for that's all the height they had, did have quite a girth on their trunks. It was most odd, but definitely in a good way, to be walking along between two hedgerows.
We had decided not to continue to Inganess Bay, saving that for another day, so turned north to pick up a track that went back over the top of the brae into Kirkwall. Soon, Highland Park Distillery came into view, perched on a hill above the construction site of the new hospital.
You will notice that the corporate colour scheme of the brand is black, which is evident in the exterior fixtures and fittings of the buildings of the distillery.
Even the stonework seems to echo this branding, which I had blithely assumed to be as a result of the peaty smoke produced during the drying of the maltings. However, I now know, thanks to an excellent article by Derek Mayes in the The Orkney Naturalist 2018, that it is in fact due to the presence of a fungus Baudoinia compniacensis, which grows in ethanol-rich environments.
When The Rolling Stones sang 'Paint It Black', not only were they gathering no moss, they were also encouraging the Whisky Fungus.
Continuing downhill, we joined the Crantit Trail, which follows a burn towards Scapa beach and our circuit was complete.