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Monday 5 May 2008

Summer timetables and Hoy

The summer ferry timetable started yesterday so now we have an additional mid-morning boat to take us to and from town. The mid-morning run is very popular with folk as it means a) you don’t have to get up too early in the morning, and b) you could just pop into town for an hour and come back again on cargo run days (tues, weds and fri).

And we also have a “Friday late boat” which leaves Stromness at 9.30 pm. That’s our one late night out! It is just about possible to go into Kirkwall, have an early meal and get the “last boat home” on a Friday. But if you want to go to any serious entertainment then it’s still necessary to stay over night in town. Each year we try and negotiate a slightly later departure time, but unfortunately due to limits on crew hours, it’s not been possible. Still it does mean that one night a week from May to September we can have visitors to the island for an evening, or even go across to Hoy to the cafĂ© there and have dinner and a walk along the shore.

Our regular afternoon run is also a little later, now departing Stromness at 4.30 instead of 4pm so you have a little more time to shop – or to try and find a parking space for your car! Parking in Stromness is a real problem for us and for anyone that lives there due to the long term parking being quite a way out of the town. Sounds reasonable you may think, but not if you have young kids to trail back and forth in the wind and the rain! And in the summer with all the tourists in town it is also very difficult to even get a long-term space at all. Part of the problem is that Stromness is such an old town, built in a linear fashion along the shore with a very narrow winding main street and even smaller streets running off, so most folk can’t park their cars by their houses and even the residents have to find car parking spaces. But at least they are not restricted by having to rush for the 4.30 “last ferry” home!

Some of our summer sailings are “on request” – as there are so few of us quite often there is no one to use the boat, so we phone up and book the boat in advance, otherwise it just sails direct to Hoy which is a very popular destination.

Hoy is very popular with walkers and cyclists, partly due to Ward Hill, the hightest peak in Orkney. The view of Graemsay at the top of my blog was taken from the top of Ward Hill by one of my visitors, Wendy, a couple of years ago. She walked to the top while I sat in the sun on the beach at Rackwick! There is an ancient woodland at Berridale – a bit of a climb so I haven’t been there, but apparently it is beautiful. Rackwick Bay, is another popular place to visit, it has beautiful sandstone cliffs rising out of the sea and also the famous “Old Man of Hoy” – an old sea stack which appears to have the face of an old man – well in a certain light, if you squint, and turn your head to one side…. Maybe? No really – you will see it! But no in the photo at the beginning of today's entry because I'm standing *behind* him, but if you arrive in Orkney from Scrabster you will see him smiling at you......

Photo: Ward hill from Rackwick


  1. You'd think someone could start a business building a parking (facility/lot?) with transport to the ferry dock. But I suppose there wouldn't be enough business to make it profitable, eh?

  2. Nope, not enough people to make it worthwhile. It's not that far to walk to the current car park - unless you have kids in tow! Sian