Trip to Scotland and the Orkney Islands 2002 with the society "Archaeology on the Way".
To see the photos, click at the index to the left. Unfortunately I had problems with my camera, which got stuck in 105 mm zoom, so there are fewer photos than normally and of less quality.
5th of September
We got up already 5 pm and the taxi took us 6 pm to the central station. At Liseberg station in Gothenburg we were met by Mari Wickerts who is be our guide on the trip. Most other people in the group had already arrived, although we were early. We were a bit worried that Lars was late, but he arrived in time. We were 20 people in 3 vans and I drove one of them to the ferry. Henrik Koskela and Mari drove the other two. It was a sunny and calm day when the ferry started on the voyage to Newcastle in England.
After an early lunch, we went to our cabins. For quite a small sum, we were able to change the cabin we shared with Leif and Janice to 2 cabins. As we were very tired after the short night we slept over 2 hours. Christina felt some sea sickness although it got better when we arrived at Kristiansand in Norway. We were still in the harbour when the buffet dinner started, which she was very thankful for. Afterwards we went to the Columbus club chatting with the others. We had to shop something to drink in the tax free for the next day and after that we decided that we was tired enough to go to bed early.
6th of September
Even Christina had had a good nights sleep, as the sea had been relatively calm. We were both starving for the breakfast. We had a lazy time before we went ashore 10 pm English time.
It was slightly sunshine when we drove through all roundabouts in Newcastle upon Tyne. It took nearly 2 hours to the churchyard of Ancrum. We only made a short photo stop at the Scottish border. We met archaeologist John Dent, who was our guide. The main attraction was a Scandinavian influenced hogback, although I was slightly disappointed, as you didn't see much of the roof tile look-alike carvings. There is also a church ruin since before the reformation.
John also guided us to the Abbey of Dryburgh, where Sir Walter Scott is buried. Some rain forced us to eat out picnic lunch in the Chapter House, as that is one of the few rooms with a remaining roof. Fortunately it soon became really clear and sunny, so we could stroll around and enjoy the ruins and their environment.
A short stop at Scott's view to enjoy the landscape before we continued Northwards. The landscape was ever-changing with hills. It became tougher to drive as the traffic grew denser near Edinburgh and it was a nightmare to come through the outer ring of the city. As driving the last van in the caravan, I sometimes had to drive faster than I wanted. We made a short stop to fill up the petrol, as there are few cheap petrol stations further northward. We took the bridge over the Firth of Forth and afterwards the traffic was much lighter. The weather changed all the time from rain to really sunny and warm.
We were quite late when we stopped at the house of Bruar. The intention had been to stay long enough to walk up to Bruar Falls, but we only had time to walk in the shops, which are extremely touristic, even to be here...
We arrived to Kinguisse at 6.45 pm, later than expected. Half of us stayed at Arden B&B and the other were split up between two other B&B nearby. Our B&B is really typical English, as the owner is an Englishman. Carpets even in the bathroom and a lot of small stuff everywhere.. We had a nice three course dinner. Afterwards we sat in the lounge with Leif and Janice, playing Bohnanza. The other met in the room of Ingemar and Lisbeth and tasted some whisky. We went to bed after 10 pm.
7th of September
I enjoyed a real English breakfast with ham, egg, beans and toast, although most of the other preferred a continental one.
At 9 am we departed for the whisky distillery Tomatin nearby. It looked like a large industrial plant from the outside. The guide Cheryl explained the process for us, although none worked for the moment. It had been the largest distillery in Scotland until recently, when Glenfiddisch had taken over the role. We also visited one of the warehouses and looked at all of the whisky barrels. A few had been stored there since 1965. Then we went into the shop for tasting and buying whisky. Neither Christina nor I appreciated the tasting, although we bought a bottle of single-malt for a friend, who had requested some odd whisky, which you can't buy in Sweden.
We continued northwards, passing Inverness. The hilly landscape changed to a farming landscape when we came closer to the coastline. At least there was no rain today. Maybe it had rained enough during the night. On the contrary it became lighter, although still cloudy.
We made a stop in Royal Burgh of Tain, where we had some light lunch, but first Christina and Mari went to a fabric shop. But they were disappointed as they didn't sell wool there any more.
The next stop was in Heimsdale, where we visited the Time Span Heritage centre. Carla, the guide, showed us around through history of Scotland and told us some stories, like the burn of the last witch and a murder in a nearby castle. We ended the visit in the coffee shop of the museum, since we didnt have time to visit a café nearby, which is more or less dedicated to the novel writer Barbara Cartland.
We continued along the coast with a lot of fields with sheep and cows. There were a lot of hay rolls in the fields, and also several heather covered hills with junipers. In some places is the road very steep and serpentine-like. The next stop was at Hill O' Many Stanes with 22 rows of small standing stones. About 200 are still visible, but the experts think there have been around 600 from the beginning. Probably it is a moon calendar, as the rows marks the rise of the moon during the 18,6 year long meton cycle.
We arrived to the small town of Wick in early evening. We stayed at hotel McKay by the river, which had low tide when we arrived. Together with Ingemar and Lisbeth we ate dinner at the pub Ebenezer around the corner earlier than most other in the group.
We shopped at Safeway, a large supermarket nearby and rested a few minutes before Mari took us on guided evening tour around the town. The town is probably founded by Norsemen and has until recently been a large fishing village. All houses are grey, but the town still have a certain charm with a lot of narrow alleys. It was over 10 pm when we went back to the hotel. I was too tired to read more than a few pages.
8th of September
An other English breakfast made a good start of the day. The sun was shining when we departed at 10 pm and headed Northwards to the museum of Freeswick. We left Henrik at the station, as he had to make a short work visit to Paris for a couple of days. Among other things the museum had a model of the excavated farm nearby, which we attended to visit later. Also some information about some Viking contemporary famous men, as well as an interesting video film.
Lars-Göran discovered that he had forgotten his wallet at the hotel and he and his wife Inga-Lill drove one van back to Wick, meanwhile we continued to the excavation. It was a nice walk in the blowing landscape, although we didn't see much except several rabbit holes, mooing cows and the castle of Freeswick, which is pretty grey and dull. The grass was slightly wet and it had become cloudy. Lars-Göran had found his wallet and met up with us at the Freeswick settlement.
We continued to Gillis Bay to catch the ferry to the Orkney Islands. We ate a simple hamburger lunch during the trip, which took about an hour. The sun did shine on us when we sat on the deck. We had a nice view over the islands we passed, before we arrived at St Margrethes Hope on South Ronaldsay.
We drove Northwards on good asphalted roads. They are mostly straight with 90 degree turns. We passed the Churchill barriers where they sank boats during World War II, to prevent submarines to reach the harbour through any of the unguarded passages.
We arrived 3.30 pm to Highbury Villas in Kirkwall, which has 6 modern and well-equipped apartments. We shared ours with Astrid and later on with Henrik. After unloading all luggage, we went to the supermarket Safeway and shopped for some meals.
Back in the apartment Christina made a chicken dinner with some wine for us three, before everyone went to Mari's apartment, where we saw a video of the excavations of Mine Howe by the Time Team. We were really tired when we returned and went straight to bed.
9th of September
We started the tour of the day by going to Mine Howe at Tankerness to see the excavation result of the Mystery of the 29 Steps. The sun was with us again, but the wind blow a little bit. We wore hard helmets when we went down two and two, since the passage is quite narrow and 3-4 metres deep and the bottom is only about 1 m2 to stand on. Halfway it is a platform and a small passage. Mine Howe is probably a Neolithic place, which was discovered 1946. It wasn't seriously excavated until 1999, when they used geophysicist techniques. There's also a ditch and a settlement just beside the hill. We were lucky to enter the site over an hour before the public opening time.
We continued to Skaill Bay, where it has been a Norse settlement during the Viking Age. The archaeologists knows quite a lot of this settlement. Nearby is a church, where they have a really lovely light-red hogback, on which you can see the carvings really well. Unfortunately we had to look through the window to see it, as the church was closed.
Next stop was The Gloup, which is a large natural blowhole by the sea. We continued a longer walk by the sea to Brough of Deerness. It's on a large rocky peninsula with a flat surface at the top. There are remnants from a another Norse settlement. Mostly is it the area in and around the church, which is excavated. Nowadays we need to go down and then up again on a narrow and slippery path, but before it was a pretty broad pathway over to the peninsula, which is about 100 metres over the sea. We ate our lunch sandwiches at the top and enjoyed the view. Through the binoculars we could see several cormorants and even a single seal in the sea.
After walking back to our vans we continued to Orkney Fossil and Vintage centre, where several had a cup of coffee. I don't think anyone thought it was worth entering the museum. It had started to be more cloudy and even a bit misty now.
Next stop was at the Southern part of the island South Ronaldsay at Isbister. First we were guided at the museum, with lots of the findings from the place, by Kathleen, daughter of the land owner. Then her father Ronald showed us the Little Burnt Mount, a Bronze Age place found by him 1957. Could it be a house where they lived or could it even have been a sauna?
We continued ourselves on a path to the most interesting part, to the Tomb of the Eagles. Ronald found it 1958, although it took over 20 years until it became excavated. It's unique as this over 5000 years old tomb had bones from 342 different individuals, which is the most in the world in a single tomb. You had to crawl in to the tomb, but inside it was possible to stand upright with a large margin. It has got the name from all the talons of claws from white-tailed sea eagles, which had been found just outside the tomb.
On the way back we passed the Churchill Barriers again and made a short stop at the Italian Chapel. It hade been a war camp during the World War II just beside and the prisoners had built this lovely and remarkable little chapel. Three sides looked like an industrial building but the front and the interior is richly decorated. Mostly thanks to one of the prisoners, who was a church decorator before the war.
We ended the tour at Safeway, before we went home to cook dinner in each apartment. It was over 9 pm when we had finished the meal and everyone was tired after a long day with a lot of walking. Christina probably fell asleep before her head had reached the pillow...
10th of September
After breakfast we went by feet to the city centre with Ingirid Jolly (yes, Ingirid is spelled correctly, as it's an old Icelandic form of the name, which shows that the Norse influence still is quite large here).
She showed us around in the large cathedral of Saint Magnus. The building started 1137 by Rognvald Korson and took about 350 years to complete. One of the remarkable thing is that there is a small reproduction of a Viking ship on the altar in the old part. Before there had been over 100 graves within the church, but the skeletons had all been moved to a mass grave outside and now there are only several memorial stones left in the church. The most remarkable with these are the morbid carvings of skulls, bones and hour glasses. A common quotation is "remember death". The strangest thing is a wooden grave stone hanging on one of the pillars. On one side is there a painted skeleton and on the other side is there a poem written, which Ingirid could recite by heart since childhood, as her father works in the cathedral.
After the visit to the cathedral, we went on to Earl Patrick Stewart's palace, a renaissance palace in ruins. We saw a video there about several of the places we are going to visit the next few days.
We also made a short visit to the ruins of Bishop Robert Reed's palace, which is older than Earls Palace. I had trouble with my camera. The electronics didnt work and it could only zoom to maximum, so I couldn't take a view over the town from the small tower.
Time to go back for some lunch. We bought a couple of pies to warm up and cakes. 12.45 pm some of us went to the airport in two vans. Six persons were dropped at Highland Park whisky distillery and the rest of us went to meet Henrik who arrived late, as it had been very windy (25 m/s) when the small aeroplane finally started from Wick, where it made a touchdown on the route from Edinburgh.
It was really warm when we dropped him off at Mine Howe and continued to Sheila Fleets jewellery near Tankerness. She make a lot of design inspired from findings of excavated jewelleries in the Orkney Islands. On the way back we picked up Henrik again, who was very happy with the visit to Mine Howe.
Back again at the apartments some of us went to the fish market to order lobsters for another day and some went to Safeway. Christina and I went to town, among other things we went to Tankerness museum. Mari had told us there was a temporary exhibition of a 1500 years old woollen cap.
When we returned I went asleep for an hour and to rest my aching feet. Christina made a lovely beef casserole for us and afterwards we just relaxed. Henrik did some catching up on sleep, Astrid wrote postcards, Christina and I read before we went to sleep.
11th of September
We got up 7.30 am "as usual". Today I drove in the sunshine to Orphir Heritage centre. First we looked at the ruins of the unique round church. But there are a few in Southern England. There also are remnants of an old Norse farm called Earls Bu beside the churchyard. At this place the famous murder of Svein Breastrope took place, committed by Svein Aslafsons. All according to the Orkneyinga Saga, which partly is told at the exhibition centre.
We continued to Unstan chambered tomb, a Neolithic tomb known for all the ceramics found there. It's been possible to put together about 30 bowls of the found remnants. This is one of he oldest tombs in the islands.
The next stop was at the Neolithic chamber Maes Howe. The mound is 35 m in diameter and 7 meters high and is one of the most well-known on the island. Even inside is the height pretty remarkable. There are a lot of Norse rune carvings in the tomb. Most of the type "Kilroy was here". One told that the treasure was taken away and another said that "Ingeborg is the loveliest of woman". There are also nice carvings of a dragon and a walrus. There are references in the Orkneyinga Saga that a storm had made the Vikings take shelter in the tomb.
We ate our picnic lunch on the top of the mound, slightly sheltered from the hard wind. Afterwards we took a tour in the compulsory tourist shop.
Standing stones of Stennes was the next stop. This is a circle of 33 metres in diameter and with originally 12 large stones erected 3000 - 2300 BC. Old oral stories calls it the moon calendar. Nearby lays the Barnhouse Neolithic village, which has been reconstructed. Julie Gibson, an archaeologist from the Orkney archaeological Trust guided us on these places and also followed us to Ring of Brodgar. This is an immense place with originally 60 large megalithic standing stones in a perfect ring of 103 metres in diameter. There is a broad ditch around the ring and plenty of heather within and around the ring. The oral stories calls it the sun calendar, which makes sense since the rings are contemporary.
On the way back to Kirkwall we went up on Widefort Hill, to get a splendid view over the town and its surroundings in the clear weather.
After the usual stop at Safeway we (that is Christina) fixed the dinner. After dinner we prepared for the next days early morning and then most of us went to the Boothy Bar for about an hour before it was time to go to bed.
12th of September
We were up already at 6 am and walked to the harbour at 7 am, as the ferry to Westray departed 7.20 am. It was a calm trip over in a misty weather to Rapness. In a couple of vans we were shuttled to the harbour in Pierowall, where we took a passenger ferry to Papa Westray. On this island there only is a single van, so the driver had to go twice for each way we wanted to go.
We took a short walk along the beach on the west side to look at some Norse nausts, which have been cleared of stones and often filled with sands to fill the function as small harbours.
We continued to Holland farm with the free Boothy museum, which mostly contained unsorted old stuff, but they also sold some knitted gloves and other things. You just had to put money in a box. From here we made a short walk towards the sea between fields with cows and sheep to Knap of Howar. It's known to be the next best preserved Neolithic buildings. The walls are over half a metres high and they have never been reconstructed. The houses had been covered in sand in a storm over 5000 years ago and they were found when there was another extreme storm about 100 years ago. We ate our lunch in the houses.
The last stop on the island was at St Boniface Church, where it is hogback in the churchyard. After being shuttled back to the harbour we took the boat back to Westray. Unfortunately Lars forgot his walking and sitting stick at the pier, which caused trouble later on.
At the return to Westray, Lorna Brown met us with five friends and relatives from the island. They drove us around the island in their cars. First to Raek Wik, where it had been a Norse settlement, where the excavation is closed and covered for the moment.
It was interesting to chat with the woman who drove our car. She was a farmer's wife around 40 who had lived on the island her whole life. She had only in the Scottish mainland a few times. It had become more and more difficult for them to make their living on the farm, so her husband also worked as a contractor, bailing hay for other. We passed both the farm she grew up, as well as the farm where her mother grew up. A lot of the farm houses we passed were deserted and even some of the fields aren't cultivated any more. There live 500 people on Westray and only 60 on Papa Westray. Totally18000 people lives on all the islands, of which 5000 live in Kirkwall. On Westray they have a hotel and a couple of grocery stores and schools for children up to the age of 16. But as in other rural areas a lot of people are leaving, particularly the young ones.
On a really bumpy road we finally came to an active excavation place near Mae Sand. Unfortunately I still couldn't get my camera to work properly, as it was a really interesting place with archaeologists in work. They were still not sure what kind of place it was, but they suspect it was an Iron Age dwelling. It didnt look like anything they had excavated before. The reason for the excavation is that the site will fall into the sea within a few years, due to the erosion.
When we returned to Pierowall and had thanked our kind friends for the driving, we even got some sun for a while. We took a short look into a gallery and then went to Pierowall churchyard with a church ruin. Here we waited for the vans back to Rapness and the ferry, which departed at 6 pm. Most people in our group seemed to be pretty tired during the journey, especially as it was quite warm in the ferry.
Back at our apartments we were so tired that we just ate dinner, read a little bit and went to bed. Henrik proposed to go to the pub, but got no votes for it.
13th of September
As there shouldn't be any crawling into tombs today, Christina and I took on our Viking dresses. But none of the other had followed our example. Our first stop on the tour of the day was in Stromness. The mist was quite heavy when we strolled around the small town with narrow streets. Christina bought some woollen yarn, otherwise we just took a couple of pictures. My camera seemed to be stuck in 105 mm zoom now, so I had to plan the photos better if it even was possible to take a photo.
Next stop should had been the view at Yeasnaby Sea stacks, but with a sight of 50-100 metres it would had been worthless and we had to believe that the view is extremely spectacular.
We continued directly to Skara Brae at Skaill Bay, where we had an early lunch. Christina, I and a few other preferred the cafeteria as a change to the regular lunch sandwiches. After we had finished lunch it finally cleared up totally and even got a bit warm, although still was a bit windy. First we went into a reconstruction of the best preserved house to get an idea what it once had looked like. Then we went to the real Neolithic village from 2500 BC. It's story is the same as the one of Knap of Hower. It disappeared in a sand storm and was recovered about 100 years ago in another extreme storm. The 10 houses are the best-preserved houses in the world from this age. You can see beds, fireplaces and shelves in stone. The walls are up to 3 metres high in some houses, which makes the place unique. It is really an amazing place to stroll around. We also made a quick tour around the exhibition and at least one in the group made a tour in Skaill house from the 18th century nearby.
Afterwards we continued to Kirbuster farm, an old farm which had been restored to how it looked like over 100 years ago. The woman Katrina, who was employed by the municipality had been in the house a lot when she was a child, so she had been able to tell how it looked like during the reconstruction. When she was a child, there lived two old men who hadnt changed anything during their lifetime. There was also a volunteer aid called Bob. He was a nice fellow who spoke Danish fluently, as he had studied there for 4 years. He also had some knowledge of Norwegian and Icelandic, as well as being good at both Scottish and Norse history. Both were invited to the party during the evening.
We were back earlier than normally and went to Safeway for shopping. Some went a second time to the Sheila Fleet jewellery shop. Since there was going to be a party that evening we rested and cooked potatoes to bring with us and then dressed again in the Viking clothes. This time I took my new shirt, which is a reconstruction of one found outside Viborg in Denmark. Nearly half of the other had also dressed in their Viking clothes.
We walked to the harbour with our pots of potatoes. A hall was hired for the feast on the second floor of a local sailing club, with a pub in the lower part. Our guide Ingirid Jolly and her band Hullion was responsible for the entertainment during the evening. But first all of us had a meal. It was potatoes, both Swedish and Orcadian herring, hard bread and a lot of other things. All swallowed down with beer, wine and schnapps.
The Hullion played mostly Scottish, but also Irish and American music. Ingirid may have a weak voice when she talks, but when she sung she had a clear and beautiful voice. Particularly Janis was up and danced a lot. I and even Lars were dancing polka with her. It was over midnight when we left to go home and sleep.
14th of September
We went up earlier than usually, as we should depart already at 8 am in the misty weather. All three vans went to Tingwall, where we parked one in the harbour while we went over to Rousay with the ferry with the other two. Three of us had to sit in the luggage compartment. Rousay is a small island with only 200 inhabitants. We met up with Julie Gibson again, who lives here and should be our guide during the day.
First we went to Wasbister Loch, where there are two "crannogs", small islands in the lake, which were used for defence. After that we took the Westness walking trail. Mari and Ingemar drove one of the vans to the ending point, so we only would need to walk one way.
It was a tough path downhill to the waterfront. At the beginning of the trail we went into the house built over Midhowe chambered tomb, with 24 chambers which was excavated 1932-33. It's 32 m long and 13 m broad and covered with a large building from the time of the excavation. 25 individuals were found in the tomb.
Next we looked at the Midhowe brooch nearby. A brooch is a kin of fortified large tower. There are 102 known broochs in the Orkney islands, which are built 100 BC to 100 AD. We ate a small lunch here before we started a walk of about 3 km along the coast. The coast is very rocky with a lot of stones, particularly a kind which easily broke into flat stones like shale. Several seals curiously looked at us. We passed a farm in ruins, as well as a church with a small churchyard. It was wet in the grass and it still was slightly misty, although better. I thought it was great when we had stones to walk on instead of wet grass, but apparently Anders who is blind had a tough time. We also passed at the ancient burial ground, which had been Judy's first excavation place on Rousay. The walk ended with a steep walk up to the main road again, but this time on a gravel road. We even passed a Swedish Consulate here, which is maintained by a Swedish woman married to a former British ambassador in Sweden!
Mari and Ingemar fetched the other van and we went to a pub where we had a warming tomato soup and sandwiches. Afterwards had Julie a surprise for us. Lairo chambered tomb, which is not publicly available yet. Actually it's on her neighbours land, so we parked at her house. The entrance is so small so we had to crawl in like commando soldiers into the tomb, but it was really worth it since the tomb is quite unique. Inside it was really high and had different chambers and it was difficult to see the ceiling in one of the chambers. It was about half of the group who wanted to crawl in. Even Mari hesitated.
Finally the sun broke through and we ended the day at Blackhammer chamber cairn, which is pretty dull with its roof of cement. Then we went to Taversoe Tuick chamber, which is different as it has two levels. The view from the hillside where the tomb is placed is beautiful and we see at least 10 of the Orkney Islands.
We took the ferry back and arrived in Tingwall about 6 pm. With all three vans we went to our apartments. Our household went out to eat fish and chips, as both Christina and Henrik thought that you should do that when you are in the Great Britain. Back in the apartment were we all very tired and just read a little bit before it was time to go to bed.
15th of September
It was nice to have a lazy morning as we didn't leave until 10 am. It had been some sun an hour before we left, but it changed to slight drizzling. First we drove to Brough of Birsay. It was low tide so we could easily walk out to the island. On the islands it had been a Norse settlement and before that it had been a Pictish one. It had an interesting draining system and even a couple of rooms which might have been saunas. As we walked back the tide had started to flow in again.
We saw some nausts on the beach nearby. I nearly lost my camera when I took off my backpack and Margareta found it below my van. I had probable felt it if I drove over it...
We drove into the village of Birsay and ate lunch in the ruins of Earl Robert Stewart place, which was built 1574. After filling up the petrol we continued to the Click Mill of Dounby. This simple mill with a horizontal wheel is quite unique. It is the only existing one in the British Islands, which is in good shape. Next we made a short stop to see a peat-harvesting place, but most people were more interested in the whisky, which was passed around to warm us in the cold weather. It was significantly colder today than any other day.
Broch of Gurness is a quite large remnant from the Iron Age. There is a large settlement just outside the walls of the broch and a large ditch around all of it.
At Cuween Hill chambered tomb we had to more or less crawl into the tomb, as the tunnel is 80 cm high, but half of the group could be inside on the same time. There are 3 side tombs, which are smaller. Outside there were activity as 3 people search the area around the tomb with geophysical radar to find traces of a settlement or other holes in the ground.
The last stop was at Rennibister farm with an Earth house. Fortunately we didn't need to crawl through the original narrow passage, instead we could climb down a ladder. The most remarkable too see here are the large unusual pillars. Although this probably has been a cellar, they have found bones from 6 adults and 12 children, which remains a mystery.
We split up the group as some wanted glasses from Mine Howe and some wanted to go to Safeway before it closed. We washed some clothes and had a good meal as usual and later we had tea with chocolate cookies. Henrik offered us some whisky, but we still didn't like. As usual we did some reading before bedtime.
When Henrik returned from one of the other apartments, he told us that he had seen a guy in the area, with a mobile phone in his hand and inlines on his feet, who had acted strangely. The guy said that he was looking for a friend who should live in one of the apartments, but this was strange as all six were occupied by us. Henrik and Ingemar had agreed on going up at 2 am and 4 am to check the surroundings, as well as tell everyone to keep some light on.
16th of September
We slept until 9 am. There had been no incidents during the night. Maybe it had been enough to talk with the guy to frighten him off. After breakfast I stayed in the apartment to enjoy my book and Christina went with Mari to hunt down linen and wool fabrics in town. She returned a couple of hours later without any luck. All other were spread out during this free day.
Christina brought pies and cakes for lunch. Then we went out together. We bought two caps for Christina's father according to his wish. We strolled in some stores before we finally spent a couple of hours in the museum. Afterwards we took a cup of coffee and a chocolate cake before we returned to rest and read again.
Mari arrived with the lobsters, which most people in the group had ordered. With some effort it was possible to crush the claws with a steel thermos. We had invited Lars-Göran, Inga-Lill and Lars in the neighbouring apartment to eat with us. I ate some leftovers, since I dont like lobster. Afterwards we invited the others for coffee in our apartment. Everybody but Katarina, who was a bit ill, and Mari who had some visitors came. We didn't go to sleep until after midnight.
We packed and ate breakfast. Christina made a short shopping trip to the centre with some others before we departed 10.30 am. The ferry from St Margreths Hope departed at 12 am. We had some sun before the cloud returned. The ferry trip, which took an hour, we ate lunch. It was a rough sea for a couple of minutes before we arrived at Gills Bay.
We drove southwards to the Grey Cairns of Camster in the middle of a large heather moor. These cairns weren't covered by grass as most others had been. The next stop was in Latheronheel harbour, which is a very beautiful place, where we looked at the coastal view. Some took the time to eat a late lunch. The old stone bridge nearby, is a part of the old road between Inverness and Wick.
We made a short photo stop at a viewpoint in Berriedale. Soon we arrived at Brora and the 3 B&Bs we spend the night in. We stayed at Tigh Fada (Gaelic words for "long house") together with Gunnel, Katarina and Astrid. It was a really typical Scottish home with a lot of small stuff everywhere, old furniture and carpets in both the bedrooms and in the bathrooms. It was very cosy and gave an old-fashioned impression. Two lively dogs contributed to the ambiance and so did the golf course behind the house.
After telling what we wanted for breakfast all 5 of us went out to have an evening meal. Brora is a small town, but have a nice little clock tower by Brora River. We ate at snack bar, which several other in our group also had found and afterwards we met more of our group, who also were on the way to the snack bar.
We made a short walk home and stopped by a bowl place to take a look at the game before we returned. Our hosts offered us evening tea, but we were too tired and went to bed.
18th of September
One of the best Scottish breakfast was served with baked beans on toast, fried egg, tomatoes, black pudding, haggis, sausages, juice, tea and toast. It was just me who took a full meal.
We said farewell to our nice hosts just before 9 am and I started by driving out on the right side. Fortunately it was a peaceful street and I only frightened one car driver before I changed to the left (wrong?) side. We picked up Henrik and Anders at the other B&B.
Our first stop was already outside Brora at "Hunters of Brora" a shop for yarn, fabrics, stuff with Scottish pattern. Both Christina and Mari bought several different yarns for a cheap price, otherwise most stuff was very expensive.
South of Invergordon we made a stop at "Store house of Foulis" to take a cup of coffee and enjoy the view over the firth with some seals in it.
Just after Inverness we turned off the road to Culloden Battle field (1746). A battle that the Scotland lost against England. One of the consequences was that they were forbidden to wear the clan colours for 35 years. We only made a short stop there for the good book store.
On even smaller roads we continued to Clava Cairns, which are surrounded by a beautiful nature. First we ate sandwiches, which most of us had bought at a petrol station earlier during the day. Then we looked at the 3 cairns. All were open (they had no roof) and you had to climb on the stones to get into the middle one. Everyone was surrounded by a circle of low, erected stones. We found several cut marks on the stones, both on the cairns and on the surrounding stones.
It was a nice view when we continued along a ridge towards the highway again. The railway ran on a fantastic old bridge, the construction is amazing as a cathedral. It was nearly 2 hours of driving until we reached Pitlochry and the worlds smallest whisky distillery Edradour. A nice bearded Scotsman in a Campbell kilt guided us around. It was easy to follow the process here, as it didn't look like a factory.
The last part to Perth was less than half an
hour and then we could check in at Holiday Inn. After an hour we all went together to Auld
Bond "Hungry Horse" restaurant, which served really large potions. Christina and
I rounded off the meal with "the smallest dessert in the world". Filled up we
went back to sleep after some reading, so the food would sink down a bit.
19th of September
We started at 9 am and the first part was tough through Edinburgh with quite a lot of traffic and Mari took the wrong road twice. We made a short stop to buy sandwiches for lunch and succeeded to meet John Dent exactly 11.30 am as agreed. He should guide us to Edins Hall and its broch.
2,5 km to walk, first on a gravel road and then over Elba footbridge, which only allows two people on the same time. It isnt really stable over the creek. We continued through fields with sheep and the hill became steeper. It had taken just over half an hour to come up to Edin's Hall and the broch.
The hill fort is from the Iron Age. We had some lunch before John told us about the place. Size wise the broch is one of largest in Great Britain and it's one of the few in this part. Brochs are most common in Northern Scotland including the Orkney Islands. The view is magnificent from the top over the creek and several other hills far away. We were happy that it still wasn't any rain although it had been cloudy all day. It was much easier and less sweaty to walk back. When we just had returned to the vans the sun shone on us for some minutes before it disappeared again.
I drove the last bit of the way, which seemed to be endless on the small roads. We arrived to Orchard Guest House in Rothbury at 4.30 pm. About half of the group should stay there. None wanted to go to Cheew Green Roman fort as planned, since we were 1,5 hour late now.
I had got a headache, because of hunger, so Christina and I went directly out to town centre after the check in. We wondered how we could spend 2-3 hours during the next day, as the town is small. At Newcastle Hotel we found a splendid and relatively cheap pub meal with a meat pie and dry cider.
On the way back we met the other who were on their way for an evening meal. We went up to our room and then we went to sit in the lounge, which is a typical cosy English living room. When I had finished my book at 9 pm still none of the other had come back. We hesitated if we should go out and look for the others at the pub or go to bed. We decided that it was better to go to bed as it had been another tiresome day.
20th of September
We put our luggage in the van after breakfast and then spent a couple of hours in the small town. It's just a main road with a few shops and there's a fine little river just beside the town plus a church, which has really great wooden carvings. The rest of the time we spent chatting with Anders at a park bench in the warm sunshine.
Departure at noon for Newcastle, where we spent another hour at a nearby shopping centre before it was time to queue up for the ferry, which departed at 3 pm. It took a while before we could change our 4-bed cabin to two smaller ones, but in the end we got two 4-bed cabins with windows without any extra charge this time. I also hunted everybody to sign a card to go with the present that the group were going to give Mari.
At 6 pm we had a buffet dinner with a lot of selections. On the outgoing trip there had been chaos at the buffet dinner and since we had learned our lesson, we took everything we wanted during the first turn, so we didnt need to queue more than once. Mari was very happy for the small backpack from "Hunters of Brora" she got.
Christina was drowsy of the sea sickness pill she had taken, so pretty soon she went to sleep in the cabin. Most of the other went to a cabin where we were 15 people at the most. Lars looked a bit surprised when he came in to go to bed... Later we went to the club and there they had a country style show and some dancing. Luckily we had found a corner with less smoke. I went to bed just after midnight, but there were several in our group who still was up.
21st of September
Even Christina slept to nearly 9 am. We met several of the others during the breakfast. Most of the day was spent shopping in the tax-free store, chatting with the others and eating lunch. Around 5.30 pm we arrived in Gothenburg. We said goodbye to the others at the parking space where we had started and Mari was kind enough to drop us off at the Central Station. We were in good time and ate while waiting for our bus for an hour. We arrived in Borås an hour later and had to take a taxi home to have a chance to get all old and new luggage with us. Finally we was at home around 9 pm.
This site is created and maintained by: