The CL we stayed on last night had numerous ducks and chickens running around it. I was expecting to be woken at 3am (the time it gets light here) by the two cockerels, but much to my surprise we didn’t hear a peep out of them until the CL owner let them out at 9am.
We had camped only 4 miles from the ferry terminal so we had a short drive to catch our 1.30 pm ferry. I referred to it as a ferry terminal but that is being overly generous. It was, in reality, a single jetty in the middle of nowhere with a small office attached. Some entrepreneur has acquired a catamaran ferry and is busy undercutting the traditional players in the summer months only.
Getting on the ferry was quite fun. All the large vehicles had to reverse on, because the ferry only opened at the rear. I was glad of my rear view camera. We have a technique where Sarah looks at the rear view camera screen and I use the wing mirrors. This technique worked well today, because I nearly reversed into another motorhome on the boarding ramp as I couldn’t see it in my mirrors. Luckily Sarah piped up and said “are you aware you are getting close to another motorhome” and on went the brakes.
The crossing was very calm and took less than an hour. The dogs had to be on the outside deck, which today being fine weather worked well. We are now a little worried what we will do if its raining for the return journey. I think we have decided that Sarah and the dogs will hide in the motorhome for the duration of the crossing, to avoid us all getting soaked. You would have thought they could provide a little shelter when we are paying £100 each way.
The waters between the mainland and Orkney were teaming with fishing seabirds and we were later told that the people on the midday boat got to see a whale. Fingers crossed for the return trip.
Our first stop on Orkney was at Maes Howe, of which more tomorrow, where we needed to get timed tickets for our visit. We are now lined up for 11am tomorrow.
Orkney’s scenery is rather different from the mainland of Scotland. From what we have seen so far the lowland parts are all beautiful meadows and we have only seen a small amount of moorland on the hills. It is also more densely inhabited either than the far north of Scotland or the Outer Hebrides.
Finally we pitched up at a beautiful Motorhome and Caravan Club Certified Location (58.988439, -3.085291 £12 including electricity) near Grimbister on the part of Orkney confusingly called the “mainland”! There are four of us on a huge grassy field looking out over meadows with moorland hills in the distance.
Birdlife has already proved to be spectacular with a pair of Curlews and their three chicks and a pair of Mistle Thrushes on our CL. I have also seen a Hen Harrier twice and managed to get some good photographs. The farmer who owns the CL has told us that there are a large number of Short Eared Owls which hunt in this area, often by daylight.
After our visit to Maes Howe tomorrow I think we will head in the the capital, Kirkwall, to visit the Tourist information and get our bearings.