Isle of Shapinsay

Finally, my last Orkney post! I can not deny that Orkney left a mark on my heart…

Sincerely, Shapinsay was the small Orcadian islands that less impress me, is not a wild land as Hoy or Westray’s, and it hasn’t an abrupt relief. However, two things impress me: the extremely peace and beauty of Balfour (the main settlement) and the brightness of its grasslands and crops.

Awesome house at Balfour

Awesome buildings at Balfour

Crops, grasslands and the Mill Dam RSPB Reserve

Crops, grasslands and the Mill Dam RSPB Reserve

However, as I said previously what more impressed me of Shapinsay was the loneliness, but it wasn’t a terrifying, disturbing solitude like in Hoy, it was a peace and calm solitude with the sounds of the gees overhead, of a tractor in a crop, of the water splashing by the seals, of the slow activity in Balfour…

Loneliness

Loneliness

Gees

Gees

Bye Orkney! I hope I might visit you soon and know all about you, your history, all your secret corners and enjoy the kindness of your people!

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Isle of Hoy

Continuing with the Orkney adventure, the day after I came back from Westray & Papay I feel so nervous, I needed to explore more and more although the weather was awful. At 9 am since my Orcades Hostel room it looks like this:

But the previous day I’d seen the Hill of Ward from Stromness and I felt bewitched, I had to go.

Knap of Trowieglen from Stromness

Hill of Ward from Stromness

I got the bus in Kirkwall to Stromness and halfway in Finstown the bus got trapped 5 min due to the snow in the road. I took the ferry (I was the only passanger) at 12 am and in 40 minutes (with a litlle stop in Graemsay) I arrived at North Hoy. The snow storm had not arrived yet, but it was extremely windy and chilly.

The storm coming up

The storm coming up

Only 10 minutes later the storm came up.

But I was decided and so rude to give up, I kept on move despite the bad weather. However, a mile before reaching Rackwick Bay it was impossible: the visibility was nil and the wind stronger and stronger. I came across with a little hut and I was there for 3 hours, until the storm stopped.

After the storm

After the storm

It tooks me a while to reach Rackwick Bay and run out of breath: I’d never seen before such a awe-inspiring landscape.

Rackwick Bay cliffs

Rackwick Bay cliffs

Rackwick Bay

Rackwick Bay

I haven’t any words to describe this place. You can find a lot of pictures of this site in the next link http://http://www.flickriver.com/photos/tags/rackwick/interesting/

In Hoy there is a little village, Lyness with some hotels, post offices, a shop, a pub even a theatre. Despite having a high diversity of landscapes, the most well known attractive on Hoy (even in Orkney) is The Old Man of Hoy, a superb 480 foot sea stack, first climbed in 1967. Also it has the highest vertical cliff in Britain, St. John’s Head, and the most northerly native woodland in Britain, the Berriedale Wood.

The Old Man of Hoy

The Old Man of Hoy

St. John's Head

St. John’s Head

Berriedale Wood

Berriedale Wood

As you see, Hoy is a land with high contrast, a microcosmos, simply perfect.

I let you a pair of videos, enjoy it!

Westray & Papa Westray

I’ve been in hibernation in my blog activity these months, even though I’ve come back plenty of energy and ideas. I haven’t stopped to dream about all the magic places of the Far-off World. And since I visited one of them, I think I can never stop to find out.

As I promise you 4 months ago I’ll tell you about my Orkney experience. After 2 days of adaptation in Kirkwall and surroundings, I started to move around the Small Islands.

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The first were Westray (the largest) and Papa Westray (or Papay). Both are connected to Kirkwall by plane and ferry, although I tried to get the ferry, slower but so much cheaper than plane.

Westray

First I went to Westray, a really small island, at most 8 km large. As you can see in the picture there aren’t any mountain or slope, Westray is completely flat. However, it has spectacular cliffs on the western shores and a lot of bays and sand beaches along the island. Also there are a pair of wee lochs at the centre of the island.

Bay of Pierowall

Bay of Pierowall

Bay of Swartmill

Bay of Swartmill

Noup Head

Noup Head

Also throughout Orkney, in Westray there are many archaeological sites and castles as well.

Knowe o'Skea

Knowe o’Skea

Noltland Castle

Noltland Castle

In Westray there are only a village, Pierowall with a population of 100 pepole. The rest of inhabitants of Westray live along the island creating a patchwork.

But if you would like to stay alone in a small piece of land, Papa Westray (or Papay for the locals) is your site. Only 4 km large and 70 inhabitants, without a typical settlement or village, only at 2 min flight by plane or 40 min by ferry from Westray. I’ve not many things to say about this heaven.

In Papay there are so few things that you can concentrate in simplicities such as the waves’s sound, the chilly wind cutting your face, the green of the rough grasslands, the splash of the water impacting on the rocks… You can feel the naure, the water and the land underfoot.

Knap of Howar: The oldest house in northern Europe

Knap of Howar: The oldest house in northern Europe

St. Boniface Kirk: One of the oldest Christian site in Northern Scotland, dating from 12th century

St. Boniface Kirk: One of the oldest Christian site in Northern Scotland, dating from 12th century

Mull Head

Mull Head

Northwick Bay

Northwick Bay

Southwick Bay on winter

Southwick Bay

At the centre of the island is the only shop, run by the islands community co-operative, it is the focal point of the community life. Adjoining the shop is the Beltane House, tun by the community as a hostel ad a venue for community social events.

On Papay the most important thing is the community, it seems to be a so large family, energetically self-sustaining. I think it’s a good sustainable economic model, based on people and their land and not on finances and virtual economy. Can most of Europe will be able to live in such a sustainable isle like Papay?

Youtube has not interesting videos about Westray and Papay (except the shortest scheduled flight in the world between these islands). But if you are interested, enjoy these freaky videos!

Orkney Islands (Scotland)

Only a few days ago, I’ve been so lucky to stay a couple of weeks in one of these places that I’ve in my personal-remote places-agenda, the Orkney Islands.

Orkney are an 70 islands archipelago (only 20 inhabited) situated at the NE of mainland Scotland, accessible by boat from Aberdeen or Thurso, or flying from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen or Inverness.

I chose the 6 and a half hour boat from Aberdeen to Kirkwall, and it was really fairy. I spent maybe halfway into the deck, seeing the clear firmament and feeling the North Sea vacuum. When I arrived (although it was 23:30) I felt the desolation and peace that characterise these islands, and of course, the extreme kindness of its people.

I established my base-camp in Kirkwall, the main town of Orkney with a population of 7000 inhabitants. I slept in a really awesome hostel, The Orcades Hostel (http://www.orcadeshostel.com), extremely fair and comfortable, with such a helpful stuff.

In Kirkwall you can find most services you might need, such as supermarkets (Lidl, Tesco & Scotmid Cooperative), hotels, bar, a couple of pubs, a swimming pool, etc. The centre of the town keeps up 1 main street with shops, finished by St. Magnus Cathedral.

The other large town of Orkney is Stromness (2000 inhabitants), accessible from Kirkwall with a 35 min. bus route. In my opinion Stromness is most beautiful than Kirkwall: this preserves lovely streets with stone-made houses combined with a special charm.

But, if you are looking for the Orkney core, you’ll have to visit the small Islands… Daily there are ferry connections between Kirkwall and Stromness to the other islands. I’ve came over Isle of Hoy, Isle of Shapinsay, Isle of Westray and Isle of Papa Westray (also known as Papay), and trust me, I NEVER HAD FELT THIS LONELY IN MY WHOLE LIFE (above all in Hoy, Papa and Papay).

Due to the large extension of the story, I’ll publish two posts talking about these small islands.

And to get an idea, I’ll let one video (in the next posts I’ll upload videos of myself). Enjoy it!

Falkland Islands

Tonight, as always, I’ve dreamed with which can be my next life station, our World is so big… Home to many fantastic places… I’m young, I’ve plenty of time, I know, but I’m anxious. I need to move continuously, I need to look for the place to setter, slowly but surely.

One of these can be Falkland Islands a far-off place ever in dispute. This archipelago is situated only 500km (300 mi) east from the South American shores, specifically, Argentine coasts and really close to Antarctica. Despite this nearness, Falkland Islands belongs to UK. Yes, it seems to be stupid: these are the geopolitics rules…

Its landscapes looks like Scottish: vast grasslands, with a smooth profile and dotted here and there by sheeps. However, in Scotland there are strong constrasts along the northern and the southern landscapes.

Its main city is Stanley with only 2100 inhabitants, characterized as other extreme-weather islands by its colorful houses. I guess it maybe a way to fight with the greyness of its days.

Falkland has a high Biodiversity, above all in marine and bird species. So it’s one of the largest and most important no-human-pression place in the world as reveal some reports .

Are you ready to stay in an only 0.26/km^2-land? Only in somewhere like Falkland you can find yourself…

Next post we are going to a really far-off landscape in Asia. Enjoy it!

La Palma (Canary Islands)

Before a long blog holydays I come back with new far-off places. These have been a really busy days because I’ve moved to Scotland: I’m very close to reach a dream, it can be the Highlands, Feroe Islands, Iceland or maybe Shetland Islands…!

But coming to the point… Next station, La Palma in Canary Islands (Spain). I’ve lived for several months in Tenerife, and I was so lucky to visit this small island.

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With only 700 km2 it shows strong contrasts: in 15 km we can go from the highest mountain (El Roque de los Muchachos, 2423m/7949ft) to the magical and lonely shores. Its capital, Santa Cruz de la Palma, is a awesome place that preserves an architectural heritage of the 17th and 18th centuries.

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But if anything stands from this island, besides its people, are three things: La caldera de Taburiente National Park, its natural richness (with the highest endemicity of all Canary Islands) and Los Indianos party during the carnival.

Føroyar (Feroe Islands)

Every time I hear the name Feroe, I feel chills through my body. I’ve never seen a most mysterious place in the world. Always surrounded by clouds and fog, cherised by cold winds, a site where nature rules…

Føroyar, a 18 island archipelago, halfway between Scotland, Iceland and Norway. With a smooth profile, and covered all by a bright green, it has the smallest capital city of the world, Tórshavn (about 18,000), and also the most colorful.

I think Føroyar it’s the place for simply contemplation: the pass of time, the come and go of clouds, the flight of puffins (see photo below) or sheep’s grazing. Moreover is ideal for miss running, biking or walking in its infinite grasslands.

Finally, today I leave 3 videos: first general from Føroyar, second of Tórshavn and last from Mykines, the most isolated and western island from the archipelago. Enjoy it!