Well, that blue sky is quite a sight. A huge contrast from the overcast, windy weather from yesterday. Clear blue skies and very little wind. Perfect weather for us! The plan for the morning was to walk over to the Brough of Birsay, the island you can see in the above photograph. It’s connected to the Mainland (Orkney mainland, not Scottish mainland) by a tidal causeway that will be open most the morning. En route, we pass by another of the Earl of Orkney’s palaces.
On the Brough of Birsay are the remains of Pictish and Norse settlements.
Above the ruins is a picturesque lighthouse, and some impressive sea cliffs. If it was for the tidal causeway, and the plan of cycling to a different part of Orkney in the afternoon, I could easily of spend hours here. We should have brought a picnic!
We head back to the campsite and “strike the tent” a little before lunchtime and come up with a new plan (after ending up on the east of the island rather than the north due yesterday)! We’ll head to the beach at Gurness today! The downside is that we then have to back pedal somewhat on Wednesday morning to get to the Ness of Brodgar, but so be it. It’s still sunny, so a good day for the beach. The cycle over the moors should be nice too 🙂
But first things first: before heading north we’re going to take a detour for a few miles and head to the Orkney Brewery. It’s lovely and sunny and a pint and pub lunch will go down a treat.
The cycle over the mainland was lovely. Finally there’s a little more sense of wilderness (ie, it looks a little more like the Outer Hebrides) and the weather is perfect. I’m feeling very lucky with the weather, and end up humming Here Comes the Sun while cycling up the hill. We stop for a breather at the top, take some photos, and then enjoy the nice long, (but not too steep…. going fast with all the extra weight gets pretty scary!) downhill to Evie.
All in all, a fantastic couple of hours of cycling. The fancy strava app thing tells me it was only 15.1miles, with a mean speed of just over 10mph. Not that fast, but not that slow either given the pub lunch and heavy bags. Top speed of 30mph was a lot of fun going down the hill 🙂
Waiting for us on the north coast is a lovely beach by the Broch of Gurness.
A couple of people had suggested camping somewhere around here, and it seemed a pretty nice spot, and even had some handy public toilets nearby. The only downside is that I could see any good ground to pitch the tent on. We decided to put off making a decision and walked over to the Broch to have a look around.
After wondering what to do about a camping spot for a while, we eventually decide to just camp out on the beach. By around 5pm the place is deserted, so we pick the flattest spot furthest away from the sea. A gale force wind and large waves seems unlikely, and my biggest concern is sand, and sand flies, getting everywhere! Once the tent is up, time for some coffee.
While instant coffee really can’t compare to the coffee I’ve been recently making with my new aero-press (thanks Louisa!), the novelty of sitting on an empty beach and boiling water in a little stove does add a certain something!
Once the tent was up we cooked a makeshift meal, then waited for the stars to come out.
Unfortunately, this far north, the sun takes quite a while to set.
Well, while we wait for the sun to go time, this seems like a perfect opportunity to make a start on that whisky we bought the over day.
Sadly, by the time the stars start to come out, we’re both ready to fall asleep. I guess exercise, sunshine, and alcohol will do that to you. Ah well. It’s nearly midnight, it’s getting cold, and we have to be at the Ness of Brodgar for 11am tomorrow.