We had arranged to meet up with Eagle-eyed M for a socially-distanced walk on a bit of coast that we hadn't explored before. We rendezvous'd by her home and spent a while marvelling at the flowers and insects in her garden.
We sat for a while on a low wall, which had been part of the coastal defences for the northern entrance to Scapa Flow during the 20th Century. Birds and insects swooped and flitted by, the gentle breeze gave motion to the flowers of the meadow and creel boats to'd and fro'd in the sea below us.
After this restorative moment for body and soul, we clambered down to the low cliffs, through swathes of gorse and meadowsweet. M pointed out some of the plants that could be foraged and we all tried a few fresh Common Sorrel leaves for their citrus-y, apple-y flavour.
As we contoured back along the coast, on a track which must've previously connected the afore-mentioned military defences, we kept our eyes peeled for any cetaceans in the sea below us, and also for the many wild flowers growing by the path. No fins breaking the surface today sadly, but plenty of interesting plants.
|Fairy Flax, a purgative|
I had been keen to see this difficult-to-find species for a while, so was really chuffed to encounter it by pure chance!
Some of the old coastal defences are located at the base of the cliffs, and I can only imagine how bleak a look-out they must've provided in the middle of an Orcadian Winter. Today, though, the view northwards to Hoy, Graemsay and Stromness was stunning.
Continuing back around the hill, we wandered by orchids, Thyme, trefoils, Tormentil and Cross-leaved Heath, but M had saved the best until last, a small colony of Mountain Everlasting. She explained that the male and female flowers are on different plants, a trait known as dioecious, as we carefully studied both.
|Female Mountain Everlasting|
|It's not a large colony|
|Male Mountain Everlasting|