We have not had a long (for us) walk for some time, so set ourselves the challenge of climbing Wideford Hill, just to the west of Kirkwall.
Here is a view of Wideford Hill from Tense Towers...
at a distance of about eight miles (thank you, Google).
We didn't walk from home, but parked at the leisure centre in Kirkwall, navigated our way around the sports pitches and took the path leading through Muddisdale. Patches of frost-laden vegetation and the odd icy puddle were a reminder that we're not out of the woods of Winter yet. However, there has been much tree planting in this area and a few signs of an impending Spring were visible. The buds were beginning to burst on the bare sticks of Dog Rose (or possibly Rosa rugosa), with a few tentative leaves sampling the cold air. Alder catkins loitered in small groups on twig corners, whilst the branches of Ashes were stacking their decks with Ace of Spades buds.
The gentle climb continued alongside a golf course, then, after crossing a road, we began a rougher ascent up a muddy farm track. Our pace wasn't warp speed, but we were doing grate.
Stopping to catch our breath, here's the view back down the track at the point where pastures gave way to moorland.
And now we were ready for the final push to the summit.
As the gradient increased, our speed necessarily diminished, which is just another way of saying "Let's stop for a photo opportunity."
Once at the top, we took in the views from the trig point,
then the vista looking back towards Kirkwall,
before we retraced our steps a short way downhill, then contoured around to visit the Neolithic burial chamber which sits on the western slope of Wideford Hill.
Thinking out loud, we realised that the last time we were here was our first Orkney holiday, twelve years ago.
Then, as now, it was impossible to resist the temptation...
There are three burial chambers leading off the main chamber, as well as the original west-facing entrance. Many of the stones in the main chamber were covered with Victorian (and later) graffiti, a temptation that we were able to resist.
On our way back to Kirkwall, I spotted this Yellow Brain Fungus on a Gorse bush, one of the few spots of colour that we saw. Yes, I know it's orange.
In some of the sheltered ditches, a few Lesser Celandine flowers were beginning to open, as if instead of photosynthesising, the plants were radiating sunlight back into the world.
And in a very predictable denouement, we returned home for tea and cake.