29 March 2011

A day trip to Rolf's Island

The Rousay (Rolf's Island) Ferry - arriving in Tingwall
It's a cute wee ferry - the lady in the ticket office* convinced me to take my car over for the day - good advice - I had hoped to walk to and from the various tombs highlighted by my cousin - it would have been a very stiff challenge

*The office had a fantastic vintage maritime VHF radio - but sadly the bosses had recently decommissioned it in favour of mobile phones - a bit of a risk I think.

The ferry was late leaving - waiting for the heating oil truck - now I know why they had me park so close to the rail...

Folks on the ferry very chatty - though very few true Orcadians - the manager was from Bristol.

This family were taking advantage of the school hols to visit friends on the island - we would meet several times (its a small island with one road and I was driving clockwise and they anti-clockwise - multiple laps to entertain the kids)

The ferry spends the day shuttling back and forth between several islands - but always in sight.  I did chambered and stall tombs, watched seals playing in the sea, ate two packets of Bourbons and visited a bird sanctuary with no birds (a theme that recurred the next day).  There were lots of birds outside the sanctuary - gulls and oyster catches and hooded crows and fulmars and more of the usual garden variety - but in the RSPB reserve - a single crow on sentry duty - who soon lost interest and flapped off toward the harbour.  Definitely not as billed (http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/t/trumland/star_species.aspx)

From (almost) the top of the island - views of the entire northern part of the archipelago - and a full 3G signal - why can't we get the same in our office in Birmingham? - I tried phoning John Brass - who is complaining about Vodafone on our behalf - but I only got his answer-phone - "there is almost no signal in our office..."

The last but-one ferry of the day - better get a move on...

I was sitting with this dog in the ferry waiting room - when off it dashed - turns out his owner is the ferry captain and the dog goes down to the harbour to meet every arrival.  The island seems to be a nice place to live with a real community spirit

In the distance Curween Hill
There must be a connection between my two favourite tombs - Almost identical construction and in very similar locations on two arms of high ground with fertile farmland in between.  I met the current farmer* - just got into the dairying and bottling business with contracts to supply in to Kirkwall (most cattle farming in Orkney is beef) - hard work but profitable given that the next nearest dairy is a very long way south - I mentioned my time working in our Leominster dairy and we talked for so long it got dark - the flare and lights from the oil terminal clearly visible to the south - and I still had to visit my last tomb of the trip.

 *Beaten up Landrover, blue boilersuit and huge "farmer's hands".

About to descend into Wideford Hill Chambered Tomb - very deep, very dark and very spooky

The price you pay for crawling around in tombs - new pair of Ron Hill's required

and finally  59.000000N3.000000W

No comments: