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!

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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!