Friday, 4 July 2014

Start Island and Scuthvie Bay

At the very eastern end of Orkney's easternmost island, Sanday, sits a beautiful bay of white sand.

Scuthvie Bay:

And at the very end of Scuthvie Bay, the land doesn't quite want to end. Another island, Start Island, can be reached at low tide from a landrover track half-crumbled into the sea.

Tidal Start Island from Scuthvie Bay:

Crossing the seabed is an adventure. The impermanent nature of the recently exposed land, water still draining off seaweed and fish in small pools, lends a frisson of urgency. The tide was coming in and sunset wasn't far off. We had a couple of hours to get back, or would spend the night on Start Island.

The ruined cottages bear exploration, crows nesting in chimneypots, their gardens gone wild. Flowers grow on the fertile machair in the shelter of low walls, and we found a rhubarb patch that provided the most delicious rhubarb crumble I can remember having.

Wildflowers on Start Island:

The wind streamed across the rest of the island, seabirds patrolling the shore edge at eye-level, indignant at our intrusion on their personal sanctuary. The lack of humans - and rats and dogs - on Start Island is evident by the large number of vulnerable ground nests. There is something special about these undisturbed places of Sanday.

We made our way over to the lighthouse, painted in black and white vertical stripes. I can't help think of the character Obelix from the Asterix and Obelix cartoons. It is the only lighthouse in the country painted like this - other stripey lighthouses have hoops - making it unmistakable during the day. Although automated in 1962, Start Point light continues to shine for shipping. I love lighthouses. I hope this beacon never stops providing its service.

A large solar panel at the side of the lighthouse reveals that it is self-powered. But the sun was setting, and we needed to see to get back across to the comfort and safety of Sanday...


Gavin Macfie said...

Heading to Sanday on Sunday. Have you been and gone?

Robert Craig said...

Yes, home again. Sanday is great. We took bikes and stayed at self-catering in Braeswick. Make sure to visit the stores in Lady and stock up on Orkney meat, fish, scallops and beer! (There are also stores at Kettletoft and Broughtown). We didn't eat out but apparently Backaskaill House is good for a meal. Enjoy meeting the seals and seabirds :)

Sam said...

Top bagging! We missed this one while we were on Sanday, but did manage a windy cycle to the Holms of Ire which look pretty similar. Great times

Robert Craig said...

Holms of Ire looked interesting, we never made it out there unfortunately!