Orkney’s wild places

Orkney is a terribly civilised place with many fantastic restaurants, superb food, many lovely shops in Kirkwall and a huge variety of crafting places dotted around the islands offering everything from natural wools for knitting, pottery and even bere meal locally milled. Cafe culture is strong and you can end up spending a fortune on a single trip. Orkney has a wild side too; very wild in fact, remote and incredibly beautiful.

We spent many hours walking along the west mainland west coast between the Brough of Birsay and Stromness to enjoy scenery such as the view taken (above) from the Brough of Bigging at Yesnaby. The island of Hoy is visible in the distance and the ‘Old Man of Hoy’ is also just in sight of the camera lens, to the right.

It’s possible to spend a whole day at Yesnaby: take a packed lunch, plenty of water and explore the coast path. Look at the various wild plants and seek out fossils in the fish beds.

Primula scotica is one of Scotland’s native plants, usually found in western Scotland and Orkney; a tiny flower which is easy to miss when viewing the fantastic cliff top panoramas. It can be found in the marine grass lands adjacent to the cliffs if you are really lucky. However, a note of caution. Globally, it is very rare and it is illegal to remove or pick wild flowers in Scotland. Take pictures by all means but please leave our native plants as you find them to spread their seed and survive.

There’s nothing between Orkney and the North American continent other than ocean. It shows with powerful waves, even on a calmish day in May. Imagine the waves on a stormy November night…

Looking north up the west coast towards Marwick Head and the Brough of Birsay. Wild places help restore inner balance; a break from modern life and technology. Going wild does much to put work and life pressures into perspective. Let’s not forget the healthy appetite for dinner and a lot of aching muscles after a day of clambering around the rocks in the fresh Atlantic air!


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