The Orkney Islands

As mentioned in the last post, the Orkneys are much closer to the Scottish coast than the Shetlands. We take a one-hour ferry tomorrow back to the mainland. For the past three days, we have walked the primary city of Kirkwall, as well as the shoreline trails along cliffs and dunes. These islands are more populated, the land has more farms, and there are way more distilleries.

Kirkwall centers around their cathedral, initially built in the 1300s. This building is a great example of a work in progress…There have been a couple restorations, and the bell tower wasn’t completed until a hundred years ago. I liked that the church belongs to the people of Scotland and any Christian sect can apply to hold services here.

Let’s stay on the subject of churches for a while more. In the early 1940s, a group of Italian POWs were captured in North Africa. They were interned here in the Orkneys, and assisted in the building of causeways that linked islands together. The Italians were allowed to make or build parts of their camp to improve their morale and standard of living. After completing food and activity improvements, they turned their attention to a place of worship:

The result was the construction of a beautiful Italian Chapel. The photo on the left shows the two primary Italian POW designers, while the others show their work. It was quite remarkable…For example, they used materials to resemble brick, which they were not allowed to have. Fifteen years after the war, they were invited back to be honored for their contribution. I’ll bet they stayed in the nicest digs on the island !!.

Next, try to guess what a “Gloup,” is ??

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As far as I can tell, it is a cavern that opens from the sea. The opening at the far end leads to the shoreline. I’m not sure if there used to be a cavern until the roof collapsed, or whether it was always open.

We spent a good amount of time walking the shore and cliff trails. A couple pics of the Orkney shoreline:

A couple other little stories before I close out these Scottish islands and head for the highlands. On the Shetlands, our travels north took us past a regional airport.

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Or should I say through… We waited at a gatepost while two planes landed…Then we drove across the runway !!   Never done that before !!

Finally, my brother-in-law, Jimmy, has been spoiling to see a seal, otter, or whale…Strike out…He finally started begging the Scottish Spirits for “just one mammal!!” While he was driving home from the cliffs, Mrs Bear told him to watch out for road kill, but complimented him on finally finding his mammal…I couldn’t have said it better, except to at least send him a great pic of my gull friend from Lerwick:

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