Thursday, 12 July 2012

Orkney Saga- South Ronaldsay

We've been to Orkney many times, usually showing visitors the great mainland sights accessible on the day bus tour that connects to the John o'Groats ferry.That takes in the unique neolithic sites at Scara Brae and the Ring of Brogdar as well as free time in Kirkwall. This time we wanted to see something of the outer islands so the main objective was spend four days on Westray.
     On the way however we wanted to spend a little time on South Ronaldsay and an evening at the famous Creel restuarant in St Margaret's Hope, the Orkney port for the Gills car ferry.  Before that we had time to visit the Iron Age excavations at Windwick and the Tomb of the Eagles at Burwick. The Windwick site is large and complex covering almost a thousand years of occupation. The Tomb looks like many others but the artifacts found in it, especially the sea eagle talons and the likelihood that the dead were picked clean by those magnificent birds before burial of the skeleton, added a macabre yet somehow fitting primeval element to the story.

     Later we had dinner at the Creel. Starters of crab with apple mayo and avocado salsa on pickled cucumber and mackerel fillet with toasted oatmeal on a bed of wilted rocket with warm rhubarb chutney. Main courses were, tusk, a deep sea fish which tasted like a cross between cod and monkfish then scallops with megrams. Cheese was accompanied by home made bere bannocks. Quality and presentation were excellent as befits its Good Food Guide rating and the relaxed ambiance was an added bonus. Breakfast next morning was also a culinary treat with secials of warm fruit compote and smoked salmon fishcake served with spinach.
     Before catching the Westray ferry from Kirkwall we had time to walk from St Margaret's Hope to Hoxa Head. WW11 screams out from the empty gun emplacements that guarded the entrance to Scapa Flow, a major navy base. Below the guns, black guillemots are found in large numbers, although with their red legs they are much rarer than their normal guillemot cousins.
     On Westray tomorrow.

The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder published by Willow Moon. e-Book and paperback available on all Amazon sites and Kindle. Reviews at

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