Orkneys June/July 2018

We're nearing the end of our holiday and, true to form, the plan has changed. We were intending to leave Stromness and head south west to the Scottish mainland, but...we weren't quite ready to leave. Having made such efforts to get here, we were keen to see as much as possible, and it seemed that the longer we stayed in The Orkneys, the more we discovered about the islands and wanted to experience. So, we shall leave Bliss here for another three weeks and hope that that we don't regret not taking the weather window over the past few days that would have been suitable, if slightly dull, to cross back, hah, listen to me, referring to crossing the Pentland Firth as potentially "dull"!
We've cycled around a lot of the mainland, taking our fold-up bikes on buses to reduce distances. Cycling into a permanent head wind is hard work. We've had a guided tour of Orkney's second largest island "Hoy" (means high,of course it does if you come from Suffolk), and were privileged to see the pair of White-tailed Eagles, who have produced a chick, the first for 140 years on the island, good luck to them. The farmers are pleased because the eagles are choosing geese, which they take in the air, as apposed to lambs, as their main food. Gives you an idea of their enormous size, with an eight foot wingspan, they are huge and utterly awesome. The adult we were watching seemed to have its eye on a tasty morsel in the form of either a merlin, or hen harrier chick, the parent, about a third the size of the eagle was doing it's level best to see off the eagle, which it eventually seemed to succeed in doing.

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Prior to the sea eagle sighting, we climbed up to see the Old Man of Hoy, a rock column just off the mainland, so close that once someone walked across to it on a tight-rope!

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Below the eagles nest, eyrie, is a stone, Dwarfies Stane, a block of sandstone carved out to form two cells, thought to be a burial chamber dating back to about 3,000 BC, originally the entrance was blocked with a rock that lies nearby. The chamber has extraordinary acoustics, as discovered by Owen.

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