|Bishop’s Palace Kirkwall Orkney
Last week in – Part 1 – of this three part series on Scotland – I talk about what to do in Aberdeen city.
We over-nighted in a Hobbit at a hostel in Inverness. A Hobbit is a round wooden dwelling that looks much like a sauna inside and out. It cost £45 for three of us. It has no sanitation. I had to keep costs low and went for price over quality when making the choices for our accommodation. I wouldn’t sleep in a Hobbit again but at least now I know what they are like.
I found all our accommodation in the – Scottish Independent Hostels – guide. I was surprised at how many much older people stay in hostels. I always thought they were only for youngsters. You can also try – Scottish Youth Hostels. Prices were between £16 – £19 per person. We shared a kitchen, living area and bathrooms with other residents. All our rooms were basic but clean and comfortable. You will hear other guests moving about and talking but it wasn’t a hardship.
Maybe we were lucky.
We didn’t hang about in – Inverness – but we did take a drive down and back up both sides of – Loch Ness. A quick photo moment at – John O Groats, the most northerly point of the mainland, which is also a must. But we had to get to Scrabster to make the ferry in time. There are a few ferries that run from Scotland to Orkney. They don’t all carry vehicles and the smaller ones don’t run in bad weather. I booked in advance with – North Link Ferries. They were the most expensive but the week before I booked they had stormy weather which affected the ferries. I wasn’t going to take a chance on a smaller ferry. Northlink berth in Stromness and we booked to stay at – Brown’s Hostel – so it also made sense to go straight to – Stromness.
|Highland Park Distillery Kirkwall Orkney
We took the last ferry over which departed promptly at 19.00pm. Make sure you allow 60 – 90 minutes to sort out paperwork and queues at the ferry terminal. Once our car was parked we went upstairs to the restaurant and had a glass of wine and a hot cooked meal. There was a fair swell but nothing serious. Orkney has 200 islands and the landscapes are totally unique to anything I have ever seen before. We watched the bigger and smaller islands passing by the ferry. Look out for the Old Man of Hoy, a tall free-standing red stone column off – Hoy Island.
|St Magnus Cathedral Kirkwall Orkney
Stromness has narrow stone streets that run through the heart of the town. Only one car can drive at a time. We found space to park and I went to bed early to read the travel guide. My two friends went walk-about and met a lonesome local chap who regaled them with stories.
The next day we set off to see the neolithic sights on the west mainland. The wind had gathered momentum. It was howling gales and raining on and off. We struggled to stand upright but we came to see – and see we did.
|John O Groats
The – Standing Stones of Steness, Barnyard stone age village, Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae and Skaill House – the manor where Skara Brae was discovered. I had hoped to visit – Orkney Brewery – and the – Brough of Birsay – but it was not to be. We did manage to squeeze in a look-see of the cliffs at Yesnabay. You can get an – Orkney Explorer Pass – which gives you discounts on the main attractions if you know you will manage to see them all.
|Skara Brae Orkney
We went back to Stromness and had a glass of wine at – Ferry Inn – before heading back to Brown’s where we made ourselves an evening meal. The next day we set off for Kirkwall. Again, we got sucked into exploring and never got past Kirkwall. En route we visited the Round Kirk, Earl’s Bu and the Orkneyinsaga Centre.
|Old Man of Hoy Hoy Island Orkney
In – Kirkwall – we saw – St Magnus Cathedral, myriad craft shops and Bishops Palace. Lunch was at – Judith Glue – where emphasis is on local produce. We also did a whiskey tasting at – Highland Park Distillery. The whiskey tours run on the hour, every hour. We just missed the last tour so we walked up to the – Lynnfield Hotel – where we had a pot of tea and big, round, yummy, home-made shortbread biscuits for around £6 for three of us.
Next week in – Part 3 – the focus will be on the road trip south via Wester Ross, a night in Ben Nevis, a castle in Perthshire and the trip back to Aberdeen via Deeside.
|Caledonian Canal Inverness
Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.