Thursday, July 06, 2006

Scrabster to Kirkwall.

Scrabster to Kirkwall. See map at  The benefit of a car.

Getting there - There is an airport at Kirkwall, see We went by car ferry from Scrabster, Scotland. See for Scrabster. Scrabster is near John o'Groats, the most northern tip of Scotland mainland. John o'Groats corresponds in the north to Land's End at the south, the tip of Cornwall, England. Seeing the British Isles from literal top to bottom.

If you have no reservations for the Scrabster ferry, get on line in the car at the ferry about 5:30 A.M. We were lucky - fine, big ferry with full Scottish breakfast -- baked beans, eggs, meats, mushrooms, tomatoes, breads, porridge. We waddled off. On the way, the ferry passes the Old Man of Hoy - a big rock. There was an old magical battle fought at Hoy, where the dead were revived to fight again. See There you will find the Old Man of Hoy. The formation is called a seastack - see

The Old Man of Hoy is a favorite for climbers, but you will be on your own. See Climbing the Old Man.

For getting around Orkney without a car, see

Skara Brae settlement

Skara Brae. People there for 6000 years. Until you are there, it is hard to appreciate just how old the cultures are that still show on Orkney. Look at this timeline, and see that Skara Brae settlement and the standing stones of Stenness was there 500 years before the pyramids in Egypt.

See for a view of the history here, stretching so far back. Go to for more on Kirkwall.

Get an overview of the historical sights at See its museums at Next time, I would get to the Orkneys fast, and spend a week there and on up to the Shetlands . See what we missed at Shetland Islands. We broke our own rule. We saw a ferry sign to the Shetlands and did not hop on. No time! No time!

Bishop's Palace - ruin with tales

A ruin not to miss. See the Bishop's Palace at

This is a skeleton now, but one of the stories was a murder after services, where the assassin walked in front of the doomed after nightfall, in a small procession, and ducked into a wall cavity. As soon as the doomed man behind him passed(a King? A Bishop?), the assassin then immediately darted out again, stabbing the King/Bishop, and then ducked back again in the dark. The King/Bishop turned, and mistook the person behind him for the assassin, big melee and many deaths. Gives a whole scary flavor of reality to ruins.

There is a fine visitor's center with exhibits, and films. This was one of the stories, as I recall. Trying to find it and fix any wrong details. The fun of the research later.