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!

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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!