The ferry to Hoy left from Houton, which is in the southwest of Mainland Orkney. So while already in this area we stopped at Waulkmill Bay to appreciate the scenery. This large bay allows for a beautiful walk during low tide on a sandy underground. On our morning though the tide was high and we were left with an impression on how far the bay goes inland.
A bit further along the road you will find the Orkneyinga Saga Centre right next to the Orphir Round Church. The medieval Orkneyinga Saga concentrates on the history of Orkney and Shetland and their relationship with Norway and Scotland. Unfortunately the Centre was closed in 2021 due to the pandemic.
But the round Church is open all year long. The church is probably the one mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga (maybe that’s why the Centre is close by) and has a unique circular style. Built in the early 12th century it seems to be modeled after the rotunda of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In 1099 Jerusalem came into Christian hands after the First Crusade and attracted a lot of pilgrims. One of these was Earl Hakon who made amends for his murder of Earl Magnus over who should rule Orkney. Earl Magnus later became a saint, so that’s where the St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall got its name from.
Once we returned from Hoy via Houton, we followed the road to Stromness which is the second largest town on Orkney. It feels even more like a village than Kirkwall, especially since it has the appearance of a singular stretch of houses and alongside the harbor and the sea.
As quaint as this little town looks there was nothing to eat here in the late afternoon. We browsed for a while at Stromness books & prints, a well sorted bookstore, and asked for recommendations upon paying. The ladies behind the cash register told us that due the pandemic almost everything is closed in town and that we would have better luck in Kirkwall. Honestly, it felt a bit surreal. But there you have it. Yours, Pollybert