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Sunday, 3 May 2015

Out to Birsay....

So, after our trip to Skara Brae and the parish of Sandwick, let me take you out to Birsay. Ah first we must stop for lunch at the Orkney Brewery. No NOT a liquid lunch, though the beer is very good, but some lovely soup, or maybe the cheese platter, or a sandwich?? Oh all right then, you can try a bottle of the Corncrake ale....

We don't have time to take the tour today. But lunch was good!  The Orkney Brewery building is in part of an old school.  Photos of former pupils adorn the walls....

Do you remember having to stand to attention at school?!

And for kids, a chance to try on a very old "school uniform"!

And outside the sun is still shining....

Local farmers are doing their Spring ploughing....

And time to inhale the aroma from the brewery chimney!

 And of course lunch for the wee doggies that waited so patiently in the car. Pippa and Lyra... posing nicely waiting for lunch!

Now we can set off for Birsay and a walk along the coast....

Just offshore, accessible at low tide is the Brough of Birsay.

It has a lighthouse at the top of the island.

And the remains of Pictish and Norse Settlements (Click on the picture to see the remains near the shore).

And along the shore you can see, in the distance, the island of Westray. One of the more Northerly of the Orkney islands. We'll take a nice easy flat walk now along the coast... my lungs like "flat"!

And celandines are blooming. It's Spring!

Along the shore are little inlets....

And a dog out with his person did what sheepdogs do the world over...herd people in the absence of dogs!

Well we had two dogs with us but I think he thought they were hairy pyjama cases! Shetland Collies look like that!  Lassie with short legs....(see photo above...)

This is what we are walking towards....the old Whalebone, one of the most photographed bits of Birsay I think!

But first we go past the restored 19th Century fishermen's huts and the boat nousts where fishermen would haul their boats up above high tide.

And here we are at the whalebone... It is the remnant of a whale washed ashore in the 1870s. It looks rather like a bird in flight.  There is a fascinating story about it (and this walk) here

We need to head back now, look at this cloud - I think a hail shower might be due!

And a short drive from the Brough of Birsay is one of my favourite galleries. Home to Jon Thompson and Lesley Murdoch.

Jon creates the most beautiful birds in wood. They are so tactile.  He also does a lot of work in ceramics, but it's the wooden birds that steal my heart. These I loved....

You can see some of the ceramic birds here... below the paintings.

And outside, miniature gardens... my favourite is the one with the standing stones....

And I love the "rock rose" growing out of the "ball"

So I hope you enjoyed your trip "out West" to Birsay.  Next post we'll take a quick trip to St Magnus Cathedral and back to Stromness for a tour of the Ness Battery.


  1. Oh Sian, how beautiful. The flowers, the sea, the whole series. Thank you for sharing this. I am just getting back to reading and glad I stopped by today. Now to go back and look at the pictures again, and perhaps again.

  2. Lovely. The depth of the blues in your photos is beautiful. Whale bone fascinating too.

    1. The colours of the landscape are so beautiful. Hmm well except the grey skies...those I could do without!

  3. I had always wondered as to the story behind the whalebone. Now I know a little more... Thanks :-)

    1. I hadn't know either till I started googling! Fascinating isn't it?

  4. You certainly took us on a wonderful tour, definitely on my to visit list that just seems to be getting longer at the moment.

    1. Haha yes there is lots to see in Orkney. It always surprises people...

  5. Oh I did enjoy that! Thank you for the tour. We stayed in Birsay on our Orkney holiday, but we never saw the sea or sky looking quite so blue - plenty of wonderful skies, but not one like that!
    I seem to remember that the Orkney Brewery was just beginning its 'upgrade' when we were there. T. keeps saying we must go back to visit it now that it has a visitors' centre. :)
    Those birds - northern divers? - really are beautiful. I too love the tactile quality of wooden bird carvings. It would be very hard to resist one if I were there!

    1. Oh yes you'd enjoy a visit to the brewery now! Good food, Cake! And of course locally brewed beer. What's not to like. Yes I think they are Northern Divers. The artists said that many people are drawn to the wooden carvings, finding them very tactile. Less so his ceramics, which are lovely too, but I prefer the wood...

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