THE BROUGH OF BIRSAY
We made it to the far side of Mainland, and our destination was the Brough of Birsay. As we neared our journey’s end (I have currently dispensed with Strict Lady's services and have reverted to a book of maps) the road looked a bit narrow. So I pulled in to a bit of waste ground obviously earmarked for development of some sort to consider my options. Several cars passed me going up and down to where I thought we needed to go, but the bit of track/roadway I could see looked pretty narrow and bendy and was clinging to the side of a small cliff over the bay
I fired up Google earth and decided to 'give it a go' in defiance of my walking and breathing Sat Nav's instructions to 'never drive into somewhere if you are not certain you can get out again'
It was a bit tight, and the edge of the track was a bit near the cliff, and the stone wall on the other side was bit close and bent in places I would have preferred it not to, but we got up there okay and in hindsight the fear of the thing was worse than doing it. Or put a better way - 'There is nothing to fear but fear itself.'
There was a good size car park including a section for Coaches, so it couldn’t have been as narrow as I imagined, and in fact on the way back out the following day I wondered what I had worried about. Though of course the worry is that the track will just suddenly end, leaving you with nowhere to turn and a frightening section of reversing in front of you, or rather behind you.
The Brough of Birsay is a small island, separate at high tide, but joined by a causeway when the tide is low. I didn’t realise this as the tide was in when we arrived, but it was a beautiful spot, and had the Northern Lights performed, or as the Orcadians know them The Merrie Dancers, it would have been a perfect viewing spot. But although I set my compass and parked Thebus so his big front window was due north with nothing between us and probably the north pole – I am exaggerating of course – and it was not raining, and there was no moon - it was just one of the nights absolutely nothing happened. So I sat in the dark, and rather cold, as the blinds were drawn back, plus I am trying to be careful with the LPG in the heating tank, and looked out at a totally dark, pitch black sky, till I gave up round midnight and went to bed.
The afternoon we arrived there were some workmen wandering about, and I wasn't sure exactly what they were working on. Perhaps there had been storms and they were repairing damage. Next morning it became obvious. Now the tide was going out the outline of a causeway between Mainland and the Brough appeared below the waves. As the waters departed they workmen rushed out and sprang into action, carrying out repair work before the tides returned. I couldn't have got over even if had been allowed – which it wasn't owing to the repair work - as it was quite a walk and the steep steps down to the beach would have precluded the use of the buggy. But apart from the lighthouse there I don't imagine there is much more to see than from Mainland.
I enjoyed the afternoon and early evening watching the waves crashing in. They really did look like lines of white-maned horses, with their noses plunged in the sea and they raced towards the shore manes flying behind them. Wave watching is compulsive, because each wave is different from the last, and almost before it is finished the next one is beginning, and that also must be watched until it has spent itself on the shore.
I had been careful to tuck Thebus in beside the workmen's hut and storage yard, so that did give us a little shelter from the wind during the night, but I kept the slides in just in case, and was pleased I had. By early morning we had lashing rain, but I remembered the old rain before seven, and had a leisurly breakfast and watched the skies gradually clear
It is a very popular dog walking spot, so Phoebe, who is getting more relaxed by the day sat up and had a lovely time watching the dogs and people on the beach. We had already been out before even the workmen had arrived and had the place to ourselves.
A lady came by just before we were getting ready to move and was collecting big bushels of seaweed, and I asked her if it was to eat or for the garden. No – she kept North Ronaldsay sheep just up the road and they loved seaweed so she regularly collected it for them. I wanted some photos, and apparently they were outside a white bungalow, but as that covers about fifty percent of the housing stock and just where I thought it might be we had to squeeze past another vehicle I must have missed them.
Here is a link to NORTH RONALDSAY SHEEP if you would like to read about them
As it was a changeable sort of day I was set on visiting Skaill House and the famous village at Skara Brae, as there was a centre and replica house as well as the excavated village
View from car park with the end of the Brough of Birsay on the left
Early Morning View from Car Park
Causeway to The Brough beginning to show
Workmen in the rain whilst tide is out