Sunday, 29 August 2010

Day Five – Down South

Well, eventually down south.  First I visited another seascape site that was recommended to me – Yesnaby.  After heavy rain in the early morning, the sky cleared but the wind persisted – force 6 -7 at least.  This did make for an interesting walk (the first of two) along the cliff tops at this beauty spot.  I had wanted to get some good photos of waves breaking on the rocks for Carol, and I certainly got my wish today.

I am sure I would have appreciated the surrounding fauna and flora more on a calmer day, but I was concentrating too hard on the rolling surf, and not being swept over,  to look anywhere else.
Because of the weather, and being Sunday, I had left the B&B later than usual, so I sought out a charming coffee shop not to far away.  However, the name of it escapes me and I cannot find the leaflet in my orderly bedroom!  The cafe was about 1 mile up a single dirt track in the middle of farmland, but it was worth it.  No only did they have excellent coffee and shortbread (again), but exhibited, and sold, wonderful phonographs of the Islands historic and natural beauty.

Feeling refreshed, I headed south, fist to Lamb Holm, and then across the Scacpa Flow to South Ronaldsay.
One of the most famous landmarks of all on Orkney is the Italia Chapel, built by Italian prisoners of war. It was started in 1943, but completed after the war.  It was built entirely out of anything they could find,  and was ornately decorated by Domenico Chiocchetti,   He painted the sanctuary end of the chapel and fellow-prisoners decorated the entire interior. They created a front facade out of concrete, concealing the shape of the hut and making the building look like a church.
Chiocchetti remained on the island to finish the chapel, even when his fellow prisoners were released shortly before the end of the war.

Moving on,  I crossed the four Churchill Causeways, erected again by POW’s to protect the British fleet in Scapa Flow. 
South Ronaldsay is long and narrow, and at almost any time you can see one side to the other. Like most of the Mainland it is also flat, and therefore very windy – no more so then on a day like today.
Not being deterred in any way, I headed to the much publicised Tomb of the Eagles.  This, again, was an important site found in 1958 by a local farmer. Having reported it to the authorities, and showing them some of the artefacts the had found, they told him someone would get back to him in a couple of years. After 18 yeasr without a word, he decided to excavate further himself. And the rest, as they say, is history. In fact 5,000 years of history.
Over 16,000 human bones were unearthed, plus numerous artefacts of everyday life in Stone Age Orkney.  The museum houses skulls, jewellery, spearheads, hunting tools and of course of remains of Sea Eagles, especially the talons.
Surprisingly, visitors are encouraged to handle these ancient relics instead of peering at them through glass tombs.

The actual ‘tomb’ however is situated 1 mile along a cliff walk.  Visitors are pointed in the right direction, without supervision, to make their own way there, and back, if not swept off the cliffs.
Entrance to the tomb is like several others I have visited this week.  On all fours, or, for children and the older generation, a ‘pulley-board’, which is great fun.  The interior however, stripped of all its historic content, is no more than a granite room dived into burial chambers.  Perhaps, by now, I am lacking a connection with these ancient relatives, having seen too many of their burial habitats.

Retracing my journey back north I stopped at the Fossil Centre and Museum at Burry. This was very interesting and well worth a visit.  It also had an excellent tea room, and superb scones ( I only had one – honest).  

The time had passed unnoticed again, and I arrived back at by B&B around 7.0pm. 
I ate in Stromness this evening and had an early night.

Tomorrow, my last day, I plan to see Stromness again as I have not walked around it when shops have been open, and will also visit Kirkwall for a walk-about.

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