Saturday, 2 August 2014
Puffins and prehistoric living
This week we visited Orkney. It's been on my wish list of places to visit for many years. It's not the easiest or cheapest place to visit but worth it. On Sunday evening we took the Aberdeen ferry to Kirkwall, a 5 hour sailing. We were blessed with a very calm sea and glorious sunshine. Little did we realise that it was the only glorious sunshine we'd see in the whole week!
Although as you can see by my horizontal hair it was still a tad windy!! The Aberdeen crossing takes 5 hours so lots of knitting and reading took place to pass the time. We arrived in Kirkwall at 11pm and drove up to the Brough of Birsay for a spot of wild camping (if that's possible in a 6 berth campervan!!)
Next day we waited for the tide to go out and walked across the causeway to see these wee beauties. Puffins in their natural habitat. Another ambition filled :-)
My camera isn't an expensive one but the zoom is pretty decent so I managed to get a few good shots. Sadly none of them in flight or bobbing in the water. To the left of the bottom of this pic there is a gap in the cliff where they obviously nest so that one is about to disappear from view.
Next we went to Skara Brae, the best preserved pre historic village in northern Europe. When I was about 9 I learned about this place at school, since then it has always fascinated me. It was discovered in 1850 after great storm blew away some sand covering some houses to reveal a preserved village full of stone houses and their contents. It wasn't until 1924 before its full historical significance was realised and it fell under state protection. Much of the coast has eroded so preserving the remaining buildings is an on going project.
It might not be clear but this sign shows 2 ladies in 1920s clothing excavating one of the houses!
Because everything was made of stone (beds, tables, dressers etc) it has all survived for 4,500 years. It pre dates the pyramids!! In the above pic you can see a bed on the left (it would have been filled with heather and sheepskins to make it cosy), a dresser at the top, a fire pit in the middle and more beds to the right. There's a reconstructed house on the site that shows how it would have looked with a roof.
It really is in a stunning location. Imagine waking up to this every day although it's thought there was a wee fresh water loch here that ran into the sea before it all eroded into the sea and created the bay that's now there.
They had fresh water, the sea, fertile land to grow crops and keep sheep, cattle and pigs. No one knows why after 400 years of continuous occupation it was abandoned. What you can't see in these photos is the pissing down rain that accompanied our whole visit!!
However, despite the poor weather to realise 2 life long ambitions in one week was very special indeed :-)