Sunday, 16th August
Playing Tourist in the South of Hoy
We were heading almost as far as it was possible to go on Hoy, to Hackness.
Hackness is in fact on the smaller island of South Walls, connected to Hoy by a causeway. South Walls has a very different character to Hoy and the contrasts were strong.
Not being in any hurry, I asked Mr Snail to pull up anywhere that looked feasible and desirable so that I could redress the lack of photos from Friday evening. In particular we wanted to investigate a lay-by that we had identified as a possible wild camping spot for the future.
Once again we were lucky not to meet oncoming traffic on the minor road - just a few cyclists, none of whom seemed very polite or friendly when we pulled over or slowed down for them. Once on the B road we pulled over so that a car following us could over-take. We were soon at the lay-by of interest and Mr Snail pulled in...
... and suddenly there were cars everywhere! We deduced that the ferry was in. It was a sunny Sunday and clearly Rackwick is a major destination at such times. Car after car sped by while I played chicken, crossing the road with my camera. Mr Snail wisely decided we should stay put until the traffic had all gone by. He spent his time surveying the ground and deciding where we might park in future.
The road should be quiet at night and there is a great view to wake up to - plus there is that useful picnic table.
Our next stop was at the Pegel Burn picnic site where I had spotted an interesting stone on Friday evening and wished to further investigate.
Thence to Hackness and the Martello Tower and Barracks. An interesting and very photogenic site, run by Historic Scotland.
Hackness Martello Tower and Battery
Bruni just squeezed through the cattle grid, with barely an inch to spare. Phew.
The knowledgeable and friendly curator made the entrance fee worthwhile. His tour of the Martello tower made the place come alive. I was unsure of the ladder to the first floor entry but managed to get up in one piece and even went up on to the roof, where the sun and a light breeze combined to make for a very pleasant experience and a marvellous view.
Despite the military order of the place, wild flowers still found a place to flourish and I was enchanted by the wild Thyme that I found clinging on here and there.
The buildings all carry plates identifying their original purpose. One building I was quite ready to find was the Latrine Block, still in use for its original purpose, though thankfully with updated facilities.
See More: The Hackness Album
External Link: Historic Scotland: Hackness Martello Tower and Battery
Scapa Flow Museum and Visitor Centre
We drove off to return to Lyness in order to visit the Scapa Flow Museum, stopping at a car park on the causeway back to Hoy for our lunch. This is another spot that will serve for wild camping in the future and there is a lengthy coastal walk that starts here. I failed to take a photograph and Google Maps Streetview is not up to date.
There was a very flash RV in the car park at the museum when we arrived. We parked next to it and looked like the poor relations. Mr Snail took this opportunity to illustrate his repeated point that Brunhilde really is not all that large.
The Scapa Flow Museum looks insignificant on first drive-by and nothing can quite prepare one for the scale of the place. What at first glance appears to be a sparsely-occupied scrap yard turns out to be a wealth of interest and treasure. It is also a rust-lover's Heaven and something of a Steampunk Nirvana.
There is rust!
There are knobs!
There are cogs!
There are gauges!
There are boats! and cranes!
... and there is rust.
We visited the Romney Hut first, pausing along the way to chat with a family of ducks. The scale of the Romney Hut took me by surprise and the contents were surprising too. I had not read up on the museum before visiting and had no idea what to expect. It certainly was not this collection of historic boats. The Otter Bank was there and it was a real thrill to see her in the flesh, as it were. This gorgeous boat used to sail between Kirkwall and the outer islands. bringing the bank with it. These days our bank arrives by air.
A number of types of Orkney boats were on show, with their histories. There were boats from Shetland and Scandinavia too.
See More: Boathouse Album
From the boathouse we went to investigate the Oil Tank (And what did you do with your weekend? Oh, we went to look at an old oil tank....) This held another surprise. It was huge on the inside and dark and very, very atmospheric. It was reminiscent of a planetarium, with the bright daylight streaming in through the rust holes.
Informational films were being projected directly on to the wall of the tank and the voice-over track reverberated eerily.
The collection housed here - eclectic! I liked best the large collection of strategically-placed yellow buckets.
See More: Oil Tank Album
We spotted the sign to the Air Raid Shelter and headed off to look at that but deduced its distance and elected to save it for another visit and so we made our way to the Oil-pumping Station, where we managed to miss out on coffee and cake as the cafe closed during our debate on whether or no the coffee would be proper or not.
The Oil-pumping station not only houses the toilets and refreshments but a lot of brass and shiny knobby twisty turny things. It is glorious. As with the rest of the site, the display is eclectic and you may look up and see models of aeroplanes, or stumble over a bicycle.
See More: Pump Station Album
External Link: Scapa Flow Museum and Visitor Centre
There were random exhibits outside, which I had some fun with before we drove away to find a space to park up for the night. Against advice, we went to look at Wee Fea, where the access actually proved perfectly suitable for Brunhilde. The views were fantastic. The midge quotient was low.
As we pulled up, we saw a car already parked there. The owner was out and operating this
and that caused much excitement as this drone was the very model that Mr Snail has contemplated buying. He engaged on conversation that was somewhat one-sided as the other half of it was extremely Orcadian and frankly the old man did not understand very much of it.
See More: Wee Fea album
Part IV is coming soon.