Sunday, 26 June 2011

Adventures in Hoy, with stripey stone beaches and the odd highland cow

Now having a new pair of wellingtons incurs a bit of responsibility - you have to make sure they get an idea of where they live and make sure they have adventures to keep them from running away from home. A bored pair of wellingtons, is not a happy pair is it now? Living on Orkney, there are um, about 80 odd islands in this little archepeligo (or should I say, not so little, maybe?) and its only fair to the wellies to get them out and about. We've been to many but Mr Flowers had never been to Hoy so thats the destination for our little adventure today. You'd be right to wonder if these wellingtons ever do any gardening, they do, but often they are also out on adventures! Today its Rackwick beach! 
Yesterday in true island hopping style we adventured off to Hoy, 35 minute ferry ride (£11.95 for a car one way) on one of the smaller inter islands ferry, to the second largest of the islands (mainland Orkney being the largest). Here we are at the bay of Rackwick, I think probably one of the nicest beaches I've ever been to (and if you know the kind of beach action we get up to that is indeed an accolade! I think its the combination of huge enormous cliffs, beach and gorgeous stripey stones and the notion that you can camp right on the beach beside a bothy (old barn), how perfect! A bit more info about that here..............from my old neighbour!

Anyway, being on adventures in new places means that your trusty cairn terrier Peedie pup leads the way - more checking out for abandoned sausages from the campsite than anything dangerous, but he does like to lead the way - so we let him! What a campsite eh? And the cliffs, amazing and difficult to get an idea of scale.........The roof of the bothy covered in large flag stones and then heather thatch, amazing what folk can do when wood and straw is scarce, brilliant use of local materials!
And we found a peedie (small) bench - which had a poingnant sign on it - I don't know the story, but these chaps seem awful young - we did as instructed and had a site and a think about these unknown (to us) chaps and our own loved ones..................

 And, we sat...............of course when adventuring, you wear your most glamourous gear! The cellist is at least slightly co-ordinated, although she has stolen my hat (so I stole Mr Flowers hat) - I'm my usual ramshackle of riotous stripes, borrowed hats and odd colours! And I know its nearly July and here we are in fleeces, hats, scarves etc - its 10 degrees here today - not a wet wild day, but NOT very warm! The temperature doesn't get very high here, although to be fair we've had a run of lovely (eg not wet and howling gales) weather over the past couple weeks, well aside that ONE nasty gale last week!
First there is the burn (small river) to cross - and a bit of a recycled (and a bit ramshackle if I might add) bridge to cross..........peedie was NOT keen, and can't blame him, his peedie paws might have got stuck, one advantage to a small dog - easy to scoop up under an arm and carry!

And, so to the beach...................its difficult to get an idea of the scale of both the beach and the cliffs - but we'll give it a go......Mr Flowers Ma, beach, cliffs - gives a bit of an idea of the size of the cliffs......!
Rackwick means 'rock beach' and boy were there rocks - the most gorgeous stripey rocks I've seen for a while, some the size of bean bags, some the size of bowling balls - all jumbled together on the beach - mostly stripey red sandstone, some slate black - but all amazing to look at!
 Now, here we go again, not much of an idea of scale - well heres my size 4 (EU 37) wellies on one of these delightful rocks!
 OK still not a great idea of scale, the cellist (age 14 and 11/12ths) had an idea 'Do you trust me?' she said, 'Um, maybe......' the reply - 'Mum, go stand on that stone she told me and conduct the sea....!' - 'Um, do what?', 'Conduct the sea!!!, Go down there arms out and conduct the sea.' - being told my mission - I did indeed go and conduct the sea.......
 Now, the cellist does have an idea of scale, so maybe conducting the sea helped after all? That girl has a great eye for a photograph. And she does make me do the silliest of things - or maybe we inspire each other!! Perching on stones, conducting the sea, how perfect a way to spend a day!
And, whilst we are at it - I'd best say - photos here are a combination of Mr F, cellist and myself or everyone gets a bit huffy - but not today - beach far too gorgeous!
Finally the beach! And, a kiss for being a good conductor! How lovely it is to be loved! What a smacker I got there! And, yes at 14 and 11/12ths she's already taller. The gamerboy was snoring - having a day off for good behaviour at home (yesterday he helped build the table and bench in the garden). When not adventuring we do a little gardening, honest injun!
 Having discovered the delights of the beach, the Peedie pup was in his element - he almost looks graceful here! Whats he heading towards you might ask...................
 He's spotted my scarf and he's off for a tug of war with me - a very cheeky dog indeed - cairn terriers are full of life and this one is no exception!
 Now don't ask me who's winning - I've no idea - the scarf is well use to this kind of nonsense - we scarf fly and tug of war alot on beaches the wind helps hugely and its great fun!
Beaches often mean a sandy nose though!
 Ok, I'm sure you're bored with our antics so back to the view - you can see this beach from the ferry when you go to Orkney, the cliffs either side are quite dramatic - aren't they?
 An eyeful of cliffs and an idea of scale - the cellist obliging this time!
 And those rocks - so beautiful - someones left us a bit of beach art - how perfect! We didn't distrub it, I'm sure the sea or the wind will soon enough!
 Again more beach art, in Orkney you'll see this type of thing everywhere - I always like to have a look and see what folk have done with the stones! Gives a good few ideas for the garden too......
 And there are so very many stones to look at we could have done that all day long, but we only had the day in Hoy so we had to make our way up to the car and say goodbye to the beach!
 Bye to the cliffs on the left and bye to the cliffs on the right - the old man of Hoy sea stack (449 ft) just barely visible at hte edge of the cliffs in that photo - maybe that gives an idea of the scale of the cliffs which are MUCH taller!
 One final look at the stones! This one is large enough for both the cellist and I to stand on, half way up the beach, imagine the force that got it there?! But far too pretty for our mangey feet to obscure the colours!
Goodbye to the stones and up onto the dunes - one final look back!
Tramping through the dunes, past the campsite, past the bothy finally a picture of a flower! Thistles are beginning to come into flower here - these are marsh thistles (Cirsium palustre)- when they are fully out I love the architecture of them a week or two they will look brilliant arms stetched out waving in the wind!

 More exploring a bit of lunch and a fair bit of driving along empty single track roads toward crofts and cottages under the high hills of Hoy....we did see a couple of cars when we were there for the day, but to be honest maybe not more than half a dozen! About 300 people live in Hoy, maybe they were all at different beaches today? There are many to choose from! Lucky for us we had the island almost all to ourselves to explore at our leisure!
 How lovely would it be to live here? Over the road, we spied my very favourite bovine - the noble Highland Cow! When we farmed in Colonsay, we had a couple of highland cows, its my ambition to own another few, one day. But for today at the end of our adventure in Hoy, at the very end of the road on the island how lovely to find one sitting ready to frame the view over to the mainland of Orkney - thank you very much you bovine beauty!
 No, now no need to get up and greet us, please go about your business watching the view and contemplating life! But, if you don't mind a close up, we'd be much oblidged!
 Then back to a bit of sitting! Time for us to go home, what an excellent adventure indeed! Thank you HOY! We needed to dash back for the ferry and homewards - we look over to Hoy from our house - so its nice to look over to the house from Hoy - we did give the house a wave when we were over there - just to be polite!


  1. Such beautiful photos and yes, the cellist has a good eye for scale.

  2. OOoh thank you for sharing your adventures. I just LOVE reading your blog! I feel as if I'm there with you. Love the photos too. Rackwick is one of my favourite places, I must get back there this summer! I've just spied a recipe in an early post..... off to copy that one. Do you know I have NEVER made scones EVER! Cakes and buns, but NEVER scones....!

  3. Oh Orkneyperson! How absolutely wonderful. Those cliffs are amazing. The stones are amazing. The thistles are beautiful. Peedie is entrancing (*is* he still a pup, by the way?) and the cellist makes a brilliant director of your photographs! I'm so glad you publish this blog!

  4. Hoy looks beautiful, love those stripey rocks and that beach is stunning. I've never been there before, but we always waved hello to 'the old man' on the way past. :)

  5. What a gorgeous spot for a campsite! We just bought a tent here but as yet haven't used it... That beach is hard to beat and the stones - awesome! The cellist sounds like such fun, and quite adorable too with her hugs and kisses for her Mum.

  6. What amazing photos!

    We are adding Hoy to our list too.

    Sft x

  7. Your wonderful relationship with your daughter brings a tear to my eye! :)

  8. Do tell, did one of those striped stones follow you home?

  9. the stones are beautiful. your picture of conducting the sea is magnificent and your quality of life always amazes me. with living in a busier world than yours, it makes me appreciate the natural way you live. thanks for sharing your world with us.

  10. Loved this post. Did you take one of those wonderful stones home or isnt it allowed?Peedie looks to be having such fun and the highland cow (?not sure what sex!) magnificent.

  11. Bravo, wonderful post! The cliffs were breath taking and the stones, wow, you could look at the stones for days. I always enjoy swinging by your blog to follow your adventures. Thank you for a delightful post!

  12. Loved the pictures, especially the colours of the rocks and that lovely coo!!!

  13. Love the stone walls, the flagstone roof, the lovely beach stones, the cute doggie, the highland cow. It all looks beautiful, thanks for sharing it.

  14. You don't half know how to make a blog post fun. Thoroughly enjoyed it, the bothy, the cliffs, stones, beach and all of hoy.

  15. Fantastic. I love the stripey rocks, I'd want to take loads home with me... I've watched people climbing the Old Man of Hoy on TV before, but to be able to camp under those cliffs and run around that beach would be magical. I'll skip the climbing though, I am beyond rusty!

  16. Ah Memories, Did you see the Rendalls when you were over there? jack was the last man in Rackwick until Dorothy took him on and they had Lucy. Max wrote a wonderful piece of music for her. How many people can say that the Royal Composer has written a piece of music just for them?
    Did you see the wee building with boat roof and the one with the simmens next to it? I've got a lovely photo of that one with Harry (dog) on top.
    Thanks for the memories.