Having visitors is good for us because it provides a reason for revisiting places now rather than always saying 'We really should go back there sometime!'
So yesterday, with William's mum Natalia staying, we decided on a trip to Mainland to see some more out-of-the-way places. We also invited Oxana, a Ukrainian who lives in our village, to come along since she doesn't drive and most of these places are either difficult or impossible to get to by bus.
Said by some to be the best beach in Orkney (although I think Bay of Skaill and our own Sands of Wright here in South Ronaldsay make for pretty stiff competition.
Actually, decide for yourself. Here are the Sands of Wright:
Sands of Wright, Christmas Day 2015
And here is the Bay of Skaill
Bay of Scail, February 2016
Bonus bay, somewhere tropical:
Ayre of Cara, South Ronaldsay, November 2016
Tourists rarely make it to Gorseness and this lovely little ruined church and graveyard on the Bay of Hinderayre. (In fact, we only found it by pure chance due to my fascination with driving to the end of small roads in order to see where they stop). Despite spending some time on Google, I was unable to find the name of this church, yet the council maintains it beautifully (the grass was all mowed).
The hill in the background is actually the island of Gairsay – population 3, according to Wikipedia.
It has one of the best displays of lichen I have ever seen:
William decided to check out the resting place of an homonymic forebear
Oxana found a cosy nook:
The family nickname for the place is 'Flatstone Beach' because the sea for some weird reason deposits more of the best stones for skipping on the water than we have ever seen anywhere else
Finally, I suppose the Bay of Hinderayre might be allowed to enter the 'best bay' competition; the water was lovely on this visit
We ended the tour with a long walk on Birsay. We hoped to see some puffins, although it was still a little early. There were two or three, but they were flying about, so all I got to see was a flash of their little red paddle feet as they shot by, going from sea to cliff and back. (Nest-buidling?).
The cliff is a good one but no means our highest. (In fact, just yesterday, I leaned that St John's Head, on Hoy, is the highest vertical cliff in the UK at 1128 feet or 335 metres, but I must say I find this one frightening enough.)
There's a lovely view from Birsay over to the Kitchener Memorial (where the cliffs are a bit higher as well).
After which, is off home – exhausted!