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Getting Stoned Up

Our Ukrainian guest's daughter, Anastasia, has come from Ukraine, where she still lives, to see her mum and sister for a month. This of course meant that some sightseeing was required.

Our favourite weather forecasting service, Windy (a coincidentally v. appropriate name for users in Orkney!), promised us particularly fine and windless (!!!) weather last Thursday, so that was when we set off to see my favourite cliffs and of course the Neolithic Mile.

I suppose it's needless to say that I had my camera with me. I pre-fitted my widest lens, the Voigtländer 28mm wide-angle, since this would be a day of panoramic views and it was about time I took this lens out for another spin.

This was the view we came for and eminently viewable it was too that day. (William and I went to Yesnaby one stormy winter day a couple of years back to see what it would be like – what was going on that day was so bad we didn't even get out of the car as the wind was whipping mountains of spray over the cliffs and straight at us.)

I usually walk all the way to the sea stack called Yesnaby Castle but this time wanted to walk to somewhere I had not trod before, even though it had aroused my curisoty before, because of the spiky things on its summit.

So we walked out onto it sticking out a long way into the sea to check out the view from it. Stupendous.

Turn head left for this:

And right for this:

Here is the Brough of Bigging itself. I agree it's a big brough.

Here's the map. One parks on the old WW2 gun emplacements where it says Yesnaby.

Cliff top adventures

It only looks like they're one step away from death, but it's not some, there's a yard or more of cliff-top hidden behind the grass line. (As a matter of fact, we lose a couple of tourists a year due to cliff-top mis-adventures,)

Finally, I discovered what the curious objects sticking up on the brough were – just cairns made by recent visitors! Nice, nonethess.


After that it was off to the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness.


Always magical. By an extra piece of magic, two coach-loads with people from a cruise ship were just leaving the site as we walked up, leaving the splendour to us alone as we walked round. By double magic, another coach-load began walking up just as we walked out.



All these famous stones have reminded me of a far less famous one called the Stembister Farm Stone, of which I am rather fond. I like lonely stones with less posh purposes. I've even seen a neolithic standing stone being used to hold modern barbed wire fences, since it happened to be standing in a convenient place. I need to find it again and take a photo.

Anyway, back to Stembister. Having located it on a map, William and I drove out to see it. It turned out that once you get as far as you can go by car, you have to walk through someone's farm yard to reach it. Luckily, the farmer's wife was in the yard and cheerfully gave permission, so we walked through:

I think it's magnificent and it has a nice story too. The menhir stands on a clifftop overlooking Clivie Bay at Stembister Farm. The island in the background is Copinsay. The owner of the farm told me the stone has been moved back from the cliff-edge several times as erosion threatened to take it. That makes it their pet stone!

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Not quite certain but I think the 3 ladies are Olena, daughter Anastasia and a friend, youngest daugther stayed home, but children grow fast so not quite sure.

Yes, Stembister is nice, a good phallic shape !

Re cliff-top misadventures, I often think of your poor misadventured tourist guide, true tragi-comic story, cos we have an ongoing saga on a Cyprus cliff top over the sea: a man reported to police that his girlfriend, taking a selfie so as to catch the sea in the background, reversed a little too far, fell over the cliff and... dead. Pity the post-mortem revealed she also had signs of strangulation which the fall could not account for. Man arrested. Second post-mortem revealed cause…


Magic was everywhere that day! Thank you!

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