I parked up on the harbour at the ferry terminal at Tingwall in amongst the crab pots and fishing tackle, being careful I would not obstruct anyone as I assumed they may start very early, which they did.
The day dawned very misty, and as soon as the early morning ferry came across I asked if we would get on. For the first time since leaving the Midlands I was walking with a stick and seriously considering getting at least one crutch out. As well as the extra long day I had yesterday with all the walking I wondered if the damp foggy weather was at least contributing to it. I chatted to a nice ferry girl, all togged up in yellow weatherproof and boots so you could hardly tell she was female rather than male. She was very helpful and cheery, but with Wretched Rack on the back said there was no chance. I suggested we took the scooter off and folded him up, but she was still dubious, and on the principle that it was a pretty dull day, and I would probably see very little, plus the ferries here are much more expensive than in Shetland – nearly seventy pounds compared to around twenty five for a return fare, I decided to leave it and settled instead for a viewing of Betty's Reading Room which was now open.
I put on some photos of it from the outside on my last visit, and these are the internal photos, plus there is a book of rememberance for Betty, and I have included photos of a few of the pages.
Morning View from Thebus' window at Tingwall Ferry
Having explored Betty's Reading Room I meandered off southwards, thinking to lunch at a hotel which seemed to get good write-ups. On the way a man was opening up the gates of a Farming Museum, so doing a quick turn around, well as quick as one can in Thebus, we drove back and into the carpark. Bad move. The carpark itself was some five or six foot wider than Thebus was long so it was a bit tortuous turning round , which I thought had better be done before any other visitor s arrived and made it even more tricky, but we managed it, and being the only ones there I had a personally guided tour of the old Orkney farmstead, which had been in the same family for many generations before finally being gifted to Orkney to use as a museum.
They have it set up so you can see how the houses developed over the centuries. The first part still has its stone bed alcove, smouldering peat fire and stall for the family pig all in the same room giving a real feeling of how if must have been to live in those times.
Old Whalebone Archway into the garden
Oldest part of the house with the peat fire smouldering away
The photo on the right shows the stone bed alcove with its blue checked coverlet
A Later part of the house with a traditional Orkney rushed chair on the left
Dairy added in around 1900
Looking up at the roof from inside you can see the massive stones used to roof it. More of that in a few days
I did come out with a slightly peat smoked finish but undeterred set off to find the hotel in time for lunch. It had beautiful views over the nearby loch and a nice little sheltered garden with clipped hedges to keep you out of the Orkney wind. I had intended to try some more of the local fish, but in the end couldn’t resist the Orkney beef, so had deep fried local crab claws to start, then steak with chips and peas to follow, and very good it all was too. I think the battering and frying probably detracts from the sweet freshness of the crab, and perhaps in hindsight I may have asked for them just fresh with some salad and mayonnaise. But one never knows until something has been tried, and sometimes the oddest sounding combinations can work really well. I still haven’t tried a battered and deep fried mars bar!
Making our way on down southwards with no real plan in mind I suddenly found we had arrived at Scrabster, from where the ferry for the mainland leaves. I was intending to take the Northlink ferry on the way back rather than the Pentland Firth which had bought us northwards, as Northlink has a different route and sails close past the Old Man of Hoy.
Having got to Scrabster I thought I may as well pop in to see about when I could book a passage. By now it was about quarter past four and they said we would fit on the five o'clock sailing, so somehow we were booked and my sojourn in the northern isles was nearly over.
The sun was shining beautifully that late afternoon – I have had wonderful weather for all of the ferry crossings, Our sailing as we left the harbour, and as we passed Hoy gave us wonderful views, and as we rounded the island of The Old Man of Hoy for really quite a long time. I took masses of photos, as by then the boat was pitching quite a little bit, and hopefully some will have done him justice. Apparently the Old Man of Hoy originally had two legs and really did look like an Old Man if the eighteenth century drawings are to be believed, but even now when the sun catches him in the right light you can definitely see his profile, Well I felt I could anyway.
Evening Sailing from Scrabster with the clouds draped over the hills in the distance
Betty's Book of Remebrance
Click on any of the photos to bring up a larger image
Old Man of Hoy
Sea Stack off the island of Hoy about 450ft high