Orkney & Shetland Tour – Day 6

Awoke early in Aberdeen, mostly because of the tannoy announcements.   The travel pills had an effect this time and I wasn’t ill or anxious to get off the boat.  I had a hearty breakfast knowing it was my last day on the bus and I didn’t have to worry about my colitis anymore.  Once again, I purchased an extra sandwich, just in case we didn’t get a chance to stop.

We found the bus and started our tour of the stones in Aberdeenshire.  I can’t rememember in which order we viewed them exactly.  We got misdirected a few times, and we stopped at a garage, where Fae, Crystal Tits and myself alighted to cross over into a field and view (what I think were) the Broomend of Crichie stones.  We made it to the gate and saw a man on a tractor.  He waved us in and so we explored a little before rushing back to the bus.

From there we made our way to other stone circles, including the Loanhead of Daviot recumbant stones, which were behind a scout hut.   What was interesting about the journey to these stones was the number of corvids we seemed to encounter, including one house whose roof had turned black because of the sheer numbers resting on it.    Later, we would encounter a large flock of corvids blocking our way on the road.  I did wonder if Fae had anything to do with this, as she had an affinity for birds and we were, once again, in a landscape full of trees.   Actually, I had to admit to feeling the draw of the woods as we drove through them and walked amongst them; it felt a lot like home to me.

I was impressed with the Easter Aquorthies, a stone circle raised above the ground.  It was a small walk uphill from the carpark, but genuinely worth it.   This time everyone seem to find the time to rest against a stone and just relax, despite Crystal Tits offputting behaviour which consisted of lying on the recumbant stone itself and meditating – knowing full well people were trying to get photographs and discern various alignments with the landscape.  Today, though, CT seemed much more subdued and I imagined the bird song of the corvids was having a disturbing affect on her.   Myself, I found it quite reassuring.

The stone circle at Midmar Kirk, mingled amongst the headstones at the back of the churchyard was a joy to photograph because of the mix of ancient, modern historic and new.  It was such a strange conglomeration of building histories.   I also remember scoffing wild raspberries from beside the road on which the Midmar Kirk stood.  They were the most delicious fruit I’ve eaten in this kingdom.

After Midmar, we ventured to find some more stone circles, but I think something went wrong.  We stopped in a small town bakery called J.G. Ross (which I think is part of a larger chain) and purchased some food.   They had a small area for seating and we all relaxed there as we ate yet another scrumptious lunch.   I also got some Banana curd, as I am a fan of lemon curd, but had not encountered banana curd before.

We then drove on across the Firth of Forth Bridge, and, for some reason, through Edinburgh, non-stop to the Rosslyn Chapel.  Personally, I had no desire to see this place, but the group did.   I wandered in and look at the gift shop, I meandered around the chapel until the last talk of the day started and I listened intently.    Once that was finished, I went up the scaffolding which surrounds the outside of the church up to the steeples and took some photographs across to Rosslyn Castle, just as the thunder sounded.   I made my way back into the gift shop where I encountered Neil and a few others and we made a dash for the bus, just as the heavens opened.   

Neil drove the bus up to the door of the visitor centre so that others would not get soaked.  We sat there for 20 minutes in all, watching all manner of European drivers realise they could not take a carvan up the track, before everyone returned and we made for Preston.   As we drove back, we waded through various storms and spotted some nice rainbows.

About 45 minutes out from Preston, Neil asked if we wanted a break or wanted to drive on. I wanted to drive on, but the group seemed to want to stop.  Thankfully, we drove on and made it back to the Ibis Hotel at around 20.00.   By now, I was exhausted.  Fae and I dumped our bags in our room as the others made their way back to their homes and we ventured, once again, to the pub next door for dinner.  I don’t think I was much for conversation that evening.   I retired early, tired and a bit disappointed it was all over.


Filed under Britain, Miscellaneous, Photography, Scotland

2 responses to “Orkney & Shetland Tour – Day 6

  1. Hi – thanks for posting this – I read the whole lot, all 6 days. Thanks for putting in such detail.

    I have myself just returned from a 6 day tour of Orkney and Shetland – I go regularly – the main difference being I run the tours myself (based in Orkney).

    I found it totally fascinating to get an insiders honest perspective of a tour, the accommodation and sites – plus the interactions with fellow guests.

    It sounds like a pretty poor trip – saved by visiting some wonderful natural places and ancient sites – and some very nice people!

    Thanks again for posting this – I’ll look in on more of your posts. Maybe keep in touch?

    Best wishes


  2. I haven’t finished the journal of the trip – yet. I am awaiting information from one of my fellow traveller’s on sites visited in Shetland, in order to get the details right.

    It wasn’t a poor trip, as such. In fact, it was packed full of highlights: meeting Fae, Malcolm, visiting the Tomb of the Eagles, Mine Howe, Maeshowe, Jarlshof, seeing Puffins, interacting with local Shetlanders. Neil was a great tour guide and very sensitive to those of us who were not 100% and the bus was very comfortable. Only one passenger was a pain, and the rest of the group managed to steer clear.

    If it hadn’t been all that, I would not have booked next year’s tour with the same company.

    Thanks for your kind comments and I will check out your tours for 2010.

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