Europe | United Kingdom (UK), Great Britain | Scotland | Western Isles, Orkney Islands And Shetland Islands | Orkney Islands – Day 8 – Shapinsay
Because it’s Wednesday, I planned to catch the 10:10am ferry to Eday… Unfortunately it turned out to be Tuesday and I had to change my plans… you know you’re really on holiday when you don’t know what day of the week it is! I ended up spending the day in the clouds… I opted for Shapinsay – the ferry ride only lasts about 25 minutes but it turned out to be a test of faith in the driver. The fog was so thick I couldn’t see a horizon and the only way I could tell we were moving is if I looked at the point where the ferry sides met the water… at 1 meter away the water dissappeared into the mist.
Once on the island things didn’t improve… ‘you’ll not see much today’ remarked a woman as I passed. I headed up the private road to Balfour Castle and had a quick peak… It made me think of the White Witches castle as it suddenly appeared out of the gloom… but as I don’t remember coming through any wardrobe, I figured I was fairly safe! Back along the road past the row of small, squat houses, I popped into the shop to see if they had a map and had to watch my head on the doorway… they must be quite cozy in winter. I followed the road to the Old Church and Kirkyard where white daisies dotted the grass between rows and rows of old gravestones. Further on up the hill to the lichen covered Mor Stein standing stone… luckily it was so close to the road or I’d have gone right past it… the chaimbered cairn Castle Bloody (what bloody castle?!) is due east of here but I discovered that you can’t get across the fields on account of the electric fences!
Continuing on I took a couple more left turns and ended up back at the ferry terminal in time for the opening of the Smithy Shop/Cafe/Museum at 12. Had a chat with the lady in the shop and bought some (dry and suggary) fudge and a booklet (?1) on the eviction of the Shapinsay Elders from their homes in 1847. Especially interesting are the letters from the pompous Factor (like a manager of the estate I guess), Marcus Calder to Lady Balfout, wife of the Laird. The small museum is quite interesting especially if you like old photos… they have a filing cabinet, 3 drawers high, full of copies of old photos found in all the houses on the island. The cafe upstairs serves food at pretty good prices… I got a soup, bread and pot of tea for ?1.75 (you can also get a vege burger for 65p and a Shapinsay beef burger for 90p).
Got the ferry back and spent 3 hours on the internet at Orkney college for the bargain price of ?2 and hour! In the evening I joined Simon from Switzerland and Dave from Perth, Australia in sampling the local drop brewed at the Orkney Brewery. We tried Dark Ale and Raven something or other and Skull-Splitter… by the name you can tell it was hefty! 8.5%!