Day 31, 32 Golspie to the Orkney Islands

Day 31, Dales to Golspie

Our drive this morning was to be a long one. We left Richmond at 7 am and headed north through Yorkshire, the edge of the Lake District, and across the border into Scotland. From there we headed north along the western central corridor through Dalwhinnie, across the Spey river, through Inverness and north to Golspie. Sadly, we passed a number of distilleries along the way with no time to stop. The one distillery we planned to stop at, Dalmore, was closed. Apparently the visitor’s centre is being redone, and no tours until 2024. Oh well, next visit.

As we moved further north in Scotland, the gorse seemed to take over the fields and highlands.
The golden colour replaced the sun on much of our drive!

We finally got to Golspie and were reunited with Sandra, our Camino buddy who also joined the 4 of us on our last visit to the Dales in 2019. We planned to overnight at Sandra’s and then head to the ferry for the Orkneys the next morning.

Our home for the night!

We had been sitting a long time so we thought a walk would do us all some good. Sandra led us along the sea wall in Golspie and out to Dunrobin Castle, the former seat of Lord Sutherland.

Walking along the coast we saw the har coming in off the North Sea. When we arrived it had been the warmest day we’ve had in weeks and the sea was producing lots of fog because of the temperature.
Dan and I walked on with Sandra until we came to Dunrobin Castle. A stellar setting for the this remote duchy.
A closer look at the castle, now part of the National Trust.
Once up at the castle gates, we turned and walked through the woods of the grounds back towards Sandra’s. The bluebells were out in glory here!

We all met back at Sandra’s where we had a fabulous dinner of Cullen Skink, Chicken and mushroom braise and a crowning dessert that resembled a pavlova. All in all, a great end to a fabulous visit with Sandra in Golspie!

Day 32, Golspie to the Orkney Islands

We were up bright and early and Sandra prepared, once again, a feast of a Scottish Breakfast. We wouldn’t have to eat for days, and yet she sent us on our way with a hamper packed with sandwiches, fruit and drinks and other goodies for our journey on the ferry! We felt very blessed as we headed on our way in the morning.

More hillsides covered in gorse as we travelled north!

While heading to the ferry terminal at Scrabster, we made a slight detour. First we stopped by Wick where the most northerly “mainland” distillery is located; Old Pultney. Again, being a Sunday it wasn’t open, however you can see from the outdoor shots of the dunnage warehouses (aging storage for whisky barrels) the “angel’s share” has created a blackened hue to all the surrounding buildings. You could smell the whisky in the air as we walked around.

One of the buildings at Old Pultney
Neighboring buildings all coated in the black growth created from the whisky “breathing” as it matures.

From Wick we headed to John O’Groats where we would complete our “longest line” in the UK; being from Land’s End to John O’Groats. (Unless of course, you’re a Bill Bryson fan)!

A misty kind of day, but we made it nonetheless!

As we drove around the peninsula heading for Scrabster, we stopped at the castle that Elizabeth bought for her mother, Castle Mey. While there was no time to go in, we were able to capture a couple of shots, and heard the stories of then Prince Charles coming up there every year. They have fingers crossed that he will still visit even though he is now king!

Desolate coastline at Castle Mey.
Castle Mey, the Queen Mother’s former home.

We continued on and were soon at the ferry terminal. After a short time we started to board. The cars were truly jammed into the deck!

A view of the cars behind us. They were parked so tight, all the mirrors had to be turned in and you could hardly pass between the cars!
We found a comfy seat on the top deck and enjoyed the short ride to Stromness on the main island of Orkney.
As we passed Hoy Island, we could see the “Old Man of Hoy”, the tallest freestanding stack in the world.
By the time we were arriving, the rain had cleared and we had beautiful vistas of the islands that we passed.
We noticed immediately the change in architecture in the islands as we docked at Stromness. Very hardy and efficient buildings.

From Stromness, we drove to Kirkwall where we had our B & B for the next 4 nights. We took a little time to settle in, and while I was busy, Dan went out and surprised me with a lovely bouquet for Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

We opted to go out for dinner this night, and after dinner we went for a short walk to get a little air on this beautiful evening. With the sun setting at 9:30+ we had a glorious evening for a stroll.

St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall
A beautiful sandstone entry door, showing the wearing of time. This building started in 1137 when Norway stilled ruled the Orkneys. Dedicated to St Magnus, who was killed by a rival cousin, Magnus’ remains have been interred in the pillars of the Quire. The cathedral has stood firm against reformers, Cromwellian troop and wartime danger, and is the most complete medical cathedral in Scotland

Well, it has been a long couple of days of travel and transfers. Time for some rest. Hope to see you back here again! Until then.

Categories: Hiking in Iceland and the UK

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