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Monday 26 July 2010

Scapa Flow "cruise" (Part 1)

Yesterday a few of us from Graemsay went along on a cruise of Scapa Flow organised by the Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership. The "MV Graemsay" took us along with about 30 other folk, and local guides Tom Muir (Scapa Flow History), Tim Dean (Bird expert), Ann Bignal (Scapa Flow Ranger) and other helpful guides for a tour of Scapa Flow. The tour started at Stromness, sailed between Graemsay and Hoy through Burra Sound, and then passed by some of the small uninhabited islands, round Flotta and then back up through the Flow to Stromness.

As well as the natural landscape, there are reminders of the part Scapa Flow has played in both World Wars, with gun enplacements, search light stations, command posts all along the coast. We also heard about the plight of many sea birds who have failed to breed this year due to the lack of sand eels which are a staple diet. However we saw Gannets (colony on Westray), guillemots (known locally as "tysties"), Bonxies (Skuas), Arctic terns, and I saw my first puffin in flight!!

Below are some photos from the trip - the one at the top of this post is of a ruined croft on the island of Hoy.

Sandstone cliffs on Hoy. Where browsing animals (sheep) can't graze, small trees such as juniper and aspen hug the cliffs.

One "industry" in Orkney waters is salmon farming, below is one of the salmon cages in Bring Deeps, off Hoy.

Remnants of wartime
In this picture you can see the steps leading down to the lookout (photo courtesy of Irene Mathieson)

More photos to follow tomorrow!

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