The North Atlantic Arc Home
October In Orkney IntroDay 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7 • Day 8


We start the day by driving the ring road around Rousay. All of Orkney is pretty much treeless and stark, but Rousay seems especially so, perhaps because there is so little population.

Back on Mainland, we stop briefly in Kirkwall for last-minute souvenirs before heading down to St. Margaret’s Hope to catch our ferry. We have just enough time to see the Italian Chapel on the way. It’s a touching place, a house of worship built from a Nissen hut (that’s a Quonset hut to us Yanks) by Italian prisoners of war, whose labor was being used to build the Churchill Barriers during World War II. It’s a thing of beauty made from virtually nothing, with a false façade and a trompe-l’oeil interior. The Italian architect who supervised the original construction returned in 1960 to do some restoration, and a number of surviving POWs returned a few years ago, on the chapel’s 50th anniversary, speaking movingly of the kindness of the Orcadians and the place Orkney held in their hearts.

Had we two more hours, I would take Win down to the privately owned Tomb of the Eagles at the southern tip of South Ronaldsay. There he would hold a 5,000-year-old skull in his hands, view a Bronze Age settlement, and walk along the cliffs to the spectacularly situated tomb, as I did on my earlier visit. Again, we don’t have the time. Despite my best effort, I have once more given Orkney short shrift. But I have fallen in love with the place, and know I will be back soon. Having spent two visits dashing madly about Orkney’s myriad attractions, I hope to spend some time settling into the slower rhythm of island life.

We arrive in St. Margaret’s Hope just in time to find out that our ferry has been canceled. The wind is blowing from the south, with enough force to make docking at Gill’s Bay impossible. We quickly find a phone and call Northlink in Stromness. They tell us they are still running. We have plenty of time to catch the next trip, so we stop at the airport outside Kirkwall on the way, just to cover the possibilities. Win has to catch a flight out of Inverness early tomorrow morning. He finds a flight headed there late in the afternoon and books it—he can cancel if the ferry actually runs. We arrive in Stromness just in time to find out that the Northlink ferry is canceled, too. A helpful woman at the tourist information desk helps Win book a B&B close to the airport in Inverness. I take him back to Kirkwall and see him off. He will get no dinner tonight, but he will catch his flight home.

Back in Stromness—I’ve driven through Kirkwall four times today—I call Doris and Malcolm at the Orca and take a room for another night. Malcolm joins me for a beer at the Stromness Hotel. The bartender is the woman from the tourist desk. I’m perfectly happy. There’s nowhere I have to be tomorrow. It’s October in Orkney.


Italian Chapel

Italian Chapel

South Ronaldsay Landscape

Old Man Of Hoy From The Ferry

The North Atlantic Arc Home

Mr Tattie Heid's Mileage

Results may vary