Schooner sailing: Orkney, June 2023

2 June – ferry to Orkney and first night

Old Man of Hoy from the Scrabster-Stromness ferry
Passengers enjoying the sun on the ferry
Arriving in Stromness
Trinovante in Kirkwall harbour
First night’s anchorage in Bay of Isbister

3 June – to Stronsay

First seal of the holiday
Light winds so we had the fisherman’s topsail up
Saeva Ness lighthouse
A buoy keeps us right in Papa Sound
Whitehall, Stronsay
Early explorations, looking across Mill Bay
Views across St Catherine’s Bay to the islet of Linga Holm, with Eday middle distance on the right, and Mainland in the far distance.
The banking hub of Stronsay – on Tuesdays, anyway
Unusual Whitehall accommodation
Arrival of a fishing boat and the evening ferry

4 June – Stronsay by bike and on foot

The little island of Papa Stronsay from Trinovante
We took the opportunity of the free loan of some e-bikes to travel across the island, leaving them by the roadside for a walk to Vat of Kirbuster
The coastal cliffs were glorious with birds and flowers
Vat of Kirbuster
While the others continued along the cliffs on foot, Lucy and I returned to the bikes for further explorations on the e-bikes. We took them to the shore at Bay of Houseby, where we left them for further explorations on foot, enjoying watching and listening to the seals
We then took the bikes towards the west and Rothiesholm
St Catherine’s Bay, before we did some geocaching before returning our e-bikes to Whitehall.

5 June – to Westray

Sailing north from Stronsay around the coast of Sanday, with a little fishing, then up the coast of Eday and through Calf Sound then across to Pierowall on Westray. A visit to the castle before dinner.

A very friendly island: one chap is taking four of us to the south end in his car tomorrow evening to see puffins; every car that passes the drivers wave hello; and I had to decline two further offers of lifts.

Getting ready to depart from Stronsay
Sailing with the jib and fish-aker up
Light-winds allowed for some fishing – but nothing caught today
A very brisk walk before dinner allowed me to get from the pier at Pierowall to visit the shop and then head for the castle
It’s partly ruined, but was never completed either
Noltland Castle is free to visit and interesting to explore
Heading back, there is a view to Trinovante, with the direct route being a lot shorter than the road around the bay

6 June – Westray explorations

Tuesday morning, we took a taxi (driven by a local farmer who is also a lifeboat volunteer and manages the safety at the airport) to the far west, for a walk back from Noup Head lighthouse to Pierowall, and later had an evening visit to Castle o’ Burrian to watch the puffins.

Noup Head lighthouse
Looking along the north coast of Westray
A final look at the coast before we turned inland, climbing up to the road and then descending to the Castle where Lucy had a quick look around, before heading towards Braehead where we had a late lunch before returning to the boat
In the evening, we were given a lift by a local teacher who was a former visitor to Trinovante, down to the cliffs at Castle O’Burrian
There were lots of puffins out to sea, resting on the water, and they gradually started to come back to the cliffs as the sun set
They can’t be seen very well, but there are lots and lots of puffins resting on the sea

7 June – Westray and Papa Westray

Wednesday morning was calm again so we had a motor around the coast to see Noup Head cliffs and birds from the sea, plus a bit of fishing: five saithe and four cod for dinner.

Still waters at Pierowall
Fish farm in Papa Sound
Grip of Cleaton at Noup Head
A minke whale briefly surfaced twice a few metres from the boat but then vanished.

Wednesday afternoon Lucy and I took the foot ferry to the small island of Papa Westray (known locally as Papay) for a walk in glorious warm sunshine to Knap of Howar, a farmstead from 3500 BC which is the oldest standing building in northern Europe.

The Papay ferry
Bay of Moclett on Papa Westray
The west coast of Papa Westray
Knap of Howar
A former traction engine at North Rendall
Blue waters south from Moclett Pier

8 June – Westray to Kirkwall

A glorious day’s sailing from Pierowall on Westray to Kirkwall.

And so ended another lovely holiday with Trinovante. We said our farewells, picked up the car and took the overnight ferry to Shetland to continue our holiday for a few more days.

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