[See HERE for Orkney, day trip #1].
There I read that “250-300 million years years ago, Scotland sat at around 10 degrees north of the Equator and desert conditions were dominant across the area“, writes Alan McKirdy.
Alan explains in his book ‘Orkney and Shetland: A Landscape Fashioned by Geology‘, “the island groups of Orkney and Shetland are the northernmost British remnants of a range of mountains that, at one time, rose to Himalayan heights”. Scotland was subjected as it drifted northwards from a position close to the South Pole to its present location. On this epic journey, this chunk of the Earth’s crust has travelled through all the Earth’s climatic zones and each has left its mark. All these environments are recorded faithfully, albeit incompletely and sometimes enigmatically, in the record of the rocks“.
On a glorious morning I headed south to Tarracliff & Dingyshowe Bay where I bumped into what was possibly a Spanner crab, one with a distinct crayfish or lobster tail!
Moving on, I discover to my delight that there are four further islands all of which are accessible by road, thanks to 550 Italian’s who were brought to Orkney in 1942 as prisoners of war. They were put to work on the construction of the Churchill Barriers, a series of four causeways that served as naval defences for the allied ships anchored within the Scapa Flow.
With a total length of 1.5 miles, the Churchill Barriers link Orkney’s mainland to Burray & South Ronaldsay via the two smaller islands of Lamb Holm & Glimps Holm.
South Ronaldsay exhibits rocky cliffs, beaches and coves as idyllic and unspoiled as any in the world.
To my further delight, I discover there’s a passenger/car ferry at South Ronaldsay that will take me back to mainland Scotland that afternoon. As well as being considerably cheaper & more characterful than the ever popular & more frequent Stromness-Scrabster ferry, this alternative port at St. Margaret’s Hope saves me driving all the way back to Stromness. Who doesn’t love a round trip?
After passing by a few hundred dolphin, the ferry arrives at Scrabster on the Scottish mainland early evening. I make the short drive to John o’Groats, bathed in sunshine, to claim my badge before proceeding to Wick in preparation for my visit to the [old] Pulteney distillery the next morning.