Thursday, 21 June 2012

Skaill Bay to Stromness - Part 2

Click here for part 1 of the walk...

Over the next headland we came to Yesnaby. Here a dead-end road reaches the coast and we saw a few visitors, looking for primula scotica or heading out to the Broch of Borwick and Broch of Biggin. Orcadian and American voices mingled with the skylark's liquid song and the sharp cries of the oystercatcher. The sea was as gentle as it ever is in these parts. We continued to the seastack called Yesnaby Castle.

Yesnaby Castle:


Beyond Yesnaby the the cliffs grew higher and the moorland more remote, and we saw no more people until the road into Stromness. Bonxies circled us, walking on short grass high above the snoozing, sun burnished sea. It was always tempting to stray too close to the cliffs... the steep sides of a small burn formed a sheltered suntrap out of the wind, as it stilled to an infinity pool before tumbling sheer into the sea. Tranquility on the edge of violence.

Infinity pool:


The most spectacular part of this coast is saved for those willing to make the most effort. A couple of miles from Yesnaby Castle, the cliffs overhang at North Galton, forming a high, slim seastack and deep, booming caves. To canoe into these with the sea so calm!

Galton Caves:


I refused to go any closer to the seastack of Galton Castle than this, the movement of the rippling sea and an insistent onshore breeze suddenly unsteadying. Hares lolloped inland away from us. The stack, formed of pancakes of sandstone, drops 215ft to the sea, cosy home of a few brace of fulmar.

Galton Castle:


We were starting to feel the effects of the day's sun on our pasty, rain-softened skin, but beyond the next headland, further views pulled us onward.

Hareopolis - looking north:


Cliffs south of Galton:


What a walk! We were glad to reach Stromness after a day of tramping and being wind and sun beaten. Save this walk for a good day - you want the views, and you don't want blown off the edge of these cliffs!

2 comments:

blueskyscotland said...

Glad you had such great weather up there.Looks amazing.

Robert Craig said...

Yes, very lucky to get the best weather of the whole year. I reckon the west coast of Orkney would be spectacular in all and any weathers though. A winter storm would be a sight to see at Marwick Head, Yesnaby, Galton or Rackwick.