Driving to South Ronaldsay

by Stuartbarbara April. 15, 2019 200 views
Headed off to explore the eastern side of the Orkneys yesterday morning. As we were leaving, the young farmer was putting his sheep out for the day. Lambs are numbered to correspond with their mothers while they learn who is who.

Headed off to explore the eastern side of the Orkneys yesterday morning. As we were leaving, the young farmer was putting his sheep out for the day. Lambs are numbered to correspond with their mothers while they learn who is who.

Scapa Flow is a huge natural harbour surrounded by islands. It was used by the British navy in both world wars, because it was a long way from the war front along the English Channel.

After WW1, the captured German fleet actually sank all of its ships intentionally in 1919, to prevent the British from keeping and using them.

In WW2, the British were justifiably worried about German U-boats entering the harbour and sinking their ships. Churchill ordered the building of huge causeways down between the eastern islands, too protect these entrances. Italian prisoners of war were conscripted into building there dykes. After the war, these causeways were preserved as they were so useful for travel down that eastern chain of islands

The northernmost causeway.

The northernmost causeway.

A large compound for the Italian prisoners of war was constructed on the tiny island of Lamb Holm. An apparently kindly British commandant allowed the prisoners to build a chapel, using two quonset huts. Everything inside was scrounged from building materials made available.

A large compound for the Italian prisoners of war was constructed on the tiny island of Lamb Holm. An apparently kindly British commandant allowed the prisoners to build a chapel, using two quonset huts. Everything inside was scrounged from building materials made available.

St Francis. This is entire clin-d’oeil, or faux art. Painted to make it look in relief and as if this were a window

St Francis. This is entire clin-d’oeil, or faux art. Painted to make it look in relief and as if this were a window

Amazingly beautiful art work

Amazingly beautiful art work

And small carved wooden station of the cross

And small carved wooden station of the cross

Hard to believe it is all faux art. Stunning detail

Hard to believe it is all faux art. Stunning detail

From the car park,  you can see the facade which was concrete, and the attached semi-circular huts. The first bell was just cardboard but was replaced by a real bell later. The art work was restored in the 1960s by the prisoner who originally did it.

From the car park, you can see the facade which was concrete, and the attached semi-circular huts. The first bell was just cardboard but was replaced by a real bell later. The art work was restored in the 1960s by the prisoner who originally did it.

One causeway going to the tiny island and another near the top right, leading to the next island

One causeway going to the tiny island and another near the top right, leading to the next island

Well made causeways are now almost 80:years old

Well made causeways are now almost 80:years old

Stopped for lunch on South Ronaldsay island, in St Margaret Hope, a small former fishing village. Had to try Robertson’s Coffeehouse and Bar. It had good food

Stopped for lunch on South Ronaldsay island, in St Margaret Hope, a small former fishing village. Had to try Robertson’s Coffeehouse and Bar. It had good food

St Margaret Hope, third largest town on the Orkneys

St Margaret Hope, third largest town on the Orkneys

Large ship sailing out of Scapa Flow, with Hoy to the west

Large ship sailing out of Scapa Flow, with Hoy to the west

As we got to the south end of South Ronaldsay, it became reminiscent of North Ronaldsay. Many large abandoned farms here

As we got to the south end of South Ronaldsay, it became reminiscent of North Ronaldsay. Many large abandoned farms here

This is a Bronze Age site. There was a large pool of water outlined in wood to protect it. A hearth is at the bottom right. It would appear hot rocks were placed in the water. Perhaps for cooking, though no signs of food residue. Perhaps as a religious sweat lodge building with a wood and hide cover

This is a Bronze Age site. There was a large pool of water outlined in wood to protect it. A hearth is at the bottom right. It would appear hot rocks were placed in the water. Perhaps for cooking, though no signs of food residue. Perhaps as a religious sweat lodge building with a wood and hide cover

The island of Hoy, across the south end of Scapa Flow. Very high hills on Hoy

The island of Hoy, across the south end of Scapa Flow. Very high hills on Hoy

John Rae was a physican, Hudson Bay factor and explorer of the Canadian Arctic. Besides all his exploits, he brought the news back to England of the tragic end to Franklin‘s expedition, and of the cannibalism the Inuit had reported. For this he was vilified by Lady Franklin and her friend Charles Dickens. Rae had located the missing stretch of the Northwest Passage, known today as Rae Channel, but received no glory for his having brought back this information. He died in relative obscurity even though his exploits were truly heroic. He is long overdue the recognition he deserves

Hall of Clestrain, Rae’s childhood home. Efforts are finally being made to preserve it

Hall of Clestrain, Rae’s childhood home. Efforts are finally being made to preserve it

It must have been quite a fine house in its day

It must have been quite a fine house in its day

Another view of Hoy and Scapa Flow from the Hall

Another view of Hoy and Scapa Flow from the Hall

Last night we went to an interesting story telling, close by our croft. Tales and myths of Orcadian legends, well presented in front of a peat fire. Many were tales of North Ronaldsay. The legends have such universal themes.

Last night we went to an interesting story telling, close by our croft. Tales and myths of Orcadian legends, well presented in front of a peat fire. Many were tales of North Ronaldsay. The legends have such universal themes.

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Abigail Gossage 6 months ago

Love the photo of the two of you in front of the fire!

6 months ago Edited
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