Week 4 - Moving further north we're now in the Orkneys North of Scotland   Saturday 15th - Friday 21st June

As we travel we continue to meet some great people. While in Oban we briefly met John and Susan who were in the harbour on their own Beneteau. They were in Oban having just helped their daughter relocate to the marina her very first "own" boat a Sadler 25 named Auk, which she was about to set off on on a holiday with some friends. What was pretty obvious amongst all of us - it doesn't matter what you sail - as long as you are out there sailing. Coming from the Clyde of Firth we were very impressed with the beautiful cruising ground at their back door. 

061513 8 Tobermony - colours just got better with the evening


It was a short sail to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull but as we were moving on we did not get to explore beyond the brightly coloured main street of the town. From Tobermony we sailed passed the Isle of Skye and Dunvegan Castle that we have since found out is the ancestral home of the Mcleods of the NT. The reasons to come back just keep adding up.

061613 1 A welcoming seal to Stornoway


A full days sail saw us arrive into Stornoway around eight at night where under the  instruction of the harbourmaster tired up to the Pilot Boat, whilst a local seal wallowed in the harbour. Stornoway is on the north east coast of the Hebrides and the home of Harris Tweed. One of the greatest finds in Stornoway was the Digby Chic restaurant recommended by the Harbour office - the food and service was exceptional and certainly not what anyone could have expected to find here. So after a wonderful meal plans were made for a good nights sleep before making the 150 mile passage to the Orkneys. Unfortunately around 3am - and we still don't know for sure what it was - there was an eerie wailing sound permeating through the hull of the boat - we checked out the harbour but could not see anything - we can only assume it was a minke whale that had come into the harbour. 

061813 5 On route to Kirkwell Orkneys


Our run from Stornoway to Kirkwell in the Orkneys took around 20 hours so we were pleased to be alongside and secured early in the day. The Orkneys are just north of mainland Scotland and lie at around 59 degrees north. There are apparently around 70 islands of which 17 or so are inhabited by about 21000 people. The one characteristic that really stands out is that there are no trees. The other is that shop keepers really have adopted the philosophy of Diversify or Die - the Hardware shop sells Hardware and Handbags, the fishing shop sells tackle and gourmet gifts.

062013 8 Skara Brae 5000 years old buried beneath the sands until 1850


We have spent three days driving and walking around Mainland Orkney and have been a little overwhelmed by the depth of history on this small group of islands. We have walked into chambered cairns such as Maeshow that were built around 3200 bc and been in awe of the craftsmanship that would have existed then to build structures that have stood the test of time and are still structurally sound today. We have seen Neolithic settlement ruins such as The Broch of Gurness and Skara Brae a settlement that dates back 5000 years and was discovered in 1850 only because a severe storm disturbed the sands that were protecting it.

062013 2 Not a connection that we expected to find (1)

There was the link to Australia with the house that Eliza Fraser lived in before she married and moved to Australia, and the fact that Captain Cooks ship lay in the harbour here after his death in Hawaii. Even more recently there are the Churchill Chambers built in the 2nd world war to defend Scapa Flow. This small area was significantly important to both the 1st and 2nd World Wars. Throw in the wildlife of birds, seals, beautiful beaches this is a very pretty and special place to visit. 

061913 5 Red Telephone Boxes should have made us realised that would mean no mobile phones or Internet Kirkwell Orkneys


What this place doesn't offer we have to note is modern communications - the sight of red telephone boxes on corners with telephones in them should have been a warning - mobile phone access and internet service is somewhat erratic if not inoperable. Guess coming here means stepping back in time in more ways then other.



Our intention is to stay until Tuesday when hopefully a part for our generator will arrive in time for us to prepare to cross the North Sea returning to The Baltic.

In the meantime we have a little more time to explore. 

© SV Katherine 2017      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Faro Portugal with Askari of Australia