Orkney at Easter

We always like to make the most of a long weekend and we usually end up travelling a fair distance to do so. This Easter was a bit different though. For a change we decided to stay a bit closer to home and check out a bit more of Orkney, as I had only spent one day on Orkney mainland before. For many Orkney would be a pretty long-haul journey, but we were pleased to just go for a short drive before hopping on the ferry for once.

Cava lighthouse

Our first full day was spent on Hoy, which is a pretty amazing island. A day is definitely not long enough, but we made the most of the time we had and – as well as lighthouse bagging – we went to Sandwick Bay, the Dwarfie Stane, the Scapa Flow Visitors Centre and Betty Corrigal’s grave (the story of Betty is incredible – you can find out more on the Hoy Orkney website). The boat journey across to Hoy enabled us to see the lighthouse on the Calf of Cava. Although it isn’t as majestic as the Stevenson lighthouses, I have become quite fond of this style of lighthouse. We were also able to get distant views of Barrel of Butter, which – unfortunately – doesn’t qualify for my lighthouse list based on my definition (as described in my last post). It’s a pretty good name though – I believe it has something to do with the cost of lighthouse dues in the past, something like that!

cantick head.JPG
Cantick Head lighthouse

Of course the main draw of visiting Hoy for me was Cantick Head lighthouse, which we went for first. We always love spotting a “For sale” sign on the gate of a lighthouse – not that we could afford to buy a lighthouse, or former keeper’s cottage – but there’s always the hope that one day we might! We have occasionally been known to take advantage of these sales for getting closer to certain lighthouses! The lighthouse at Cantick Head has been operational now for over 150 years and it is currently possible to rent the old keepers cottages for holidays. Next time, that’s what we’ll be doing!

tor ness
Tor Ness lighthouse

The second lighthouse we were hoping to visit while on Hoy was Tor Ness on the west coast. We were hopeful that we would make it there, although it involved a bit of a walk (and with a 2-year-old that’s not always easy, especially as we discovered later that day that the carrier we had for him had suddenly become too small!). As we approached and began to drive around it became apparent that it might not be as straightforward as we’d hoped. The nearest access route to the lighthouse is across croft land and, although the farmer was happy enough for us to proceed, we were fully aware that the first stage of the walk would involve walking through a field of cows, some with calves. We decided that it wasn’t worth the risk and that we’d review it a bit more for next time. Better to be safe and sensible about it. Besides, it’s another reason/excuse to go back!

More on Orkney to follow tomorrow! 🙂

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