Bernie Bell: Orkney Walks, South-Ronaldsay, East Coast

South-Ronaldsay-East-Coast-Walks – next bit – New Year’s Day 2018!

See Also : Bernie Bell Orkney Walks: South Ronaldsay

Bernie Bell’s Orkney Walks: Windwick to Halcro Head

weather vane B Bell

Photo B Bell

For the next section of the East Coast walk, you park in the car park of the visitor centre at Liddle Farm.

If the Visitor Centre is open, you’ll need to go in to get your ticket, and it’s also well worth going in to see what they have in the museum and information room – and, for that matter, the shop, which has an emphasis on locally produced crafts and artworks. Then on to the stunning cliff walk to the Eagle Cairn itself, as described here…………..

Bernie Bell: Orkney Walks (with stories) – The Eagle Cairn

 Near the cairn, a stone has been raised in memory of Ronnie and Morgan Simison, who are now ”Together With The Ancestors”.  Ronnie discovered the Eagle Cairn, and excavated it himself, too.  This is a good example of a ‘modern’ standing stone.

Tomb of eagles stone B Bell

Memorial Stone

It’s a good size and shape, positioned carefully, in fact, positioned perfectly, almost as a sentinel to the cairn, and  as a memory, or marker, for the place and the people – Ronnie, Morgan, and The Ancestors.  Fancifully, I saw the shape of the stone as representing Ronnie and Morgan, standing together, looking out over the sea, from the cairn.

 After visiting the cairn, if, instead of returning via the ’Burnt Mound’, as described  in my original story, you follow the path, past the cairn, along the top of the cliffs, and head for Halcro Head.

 As you turn back to look at the cairn from a ‘new’ angle , you’ll see the memorial stone, and the cairn, in perfect juxtaposition.

Eagle Cairn

Photo B Bell

 While you’re at Halcro Head, you can walk across to have a look at ‘The Alternative Gloup’, as described in this………..

Bernie Bell’s Orkney Walks: Windwick to Halcro Head

The steps to the viewing platform, are perfect to sit on to eat your sandwiches!

On the way back down the slope, you get some wonderful views of the position of the Eagle Cairn in relation to the landscape around it, and of the Pentland Skerries, with their lighthouse.  As we walked down the slope, the light was starting to go, and we could see a number of different lighthouses, twinkling along the Caithness coast.  The one on the Pentland Skerries, flashed wonderfully over the stone and the cairn.

South Ronaldsay East Coast

Photo B Bell

 I should mention that, on the day that we did this walk, the ground was very, very wet, so, worth being aware that it can be so. And I mean really, very wet!  Still a lovely walk though, and a day of light on water and many kinds of light.

South Ronaldsay East Coast 2

Photo M Bell

 And then, we headed home, by the light of a full moon, over the cairn.

I’m going to insert a story, from another time that we were visiting the Eagle Cairn, as written to someone, at the time……

 This is the kind of thing, where folk decide I really am nuts, but, Mike saw him too, in fact Mike saw him, first, Kathleen sees him, and she says she showed the crystal to a geologist, and the hairs on his neck, stood up!

Right, we were in the kitchen, at the museum building, having a cuppa and a natter, about all sorts, then, Kathleen picked up this big crystal from her desk, and handed it to me, saying to hold it up to the light, by the very tips, and look through it.  I held it up to the light, and, what I first saw, was, in the centre, top section of the centre, what looked like two, arrowheads, joined at their tips.  It’s a light coloured crystal, and, when you just look at it, it just looks light, right through, but, hold it to the light, and these two shapes appeared, at the apex of the lines, of the edges of the crystal.  So, that’s what I saw, two, dark, vaguely arrow-head shapes.  I gave it to Mike, who held it up to the other window, and exclaimed!  What he saw, was a face, or, rather, a mask, like those African masks folk have on their walls, sometimes, which he described to us.  He handed it back to me, and I looked at it, through the window where he’d looked at it, and I saw it, clearly, too.

water sprite B Bell

 Kathleen said, that it can depend on how you hold it, then told us how this crystal came to be there.  Folk often leave things, in the cairn, as a gift for the ancestors, and someone had left this crystal.  Originally, she’d put it in the museum, in the area of the display which they call Dad’s treasures, as in, bits and pieces which Ronnie has found or been given, over the years.  She felt it wasn’t right, there, so took it out again, and wondered what I/we would make of it.  She hadn’t seen the face, at first, but, one time, holding up to the light, just right, she saw it.  Also, this geologist chap saw it.

As to what we made of it……………………  I said that I wouldn’t want him in a room, looking at me!  For that matter, I wouldn’t want him in the house, even in another room, as I wouldn’t know what he was up to!  He’s mischievous, not bad or mean, just a bit of a naughty kind of character.  Kathleen suggested an imp, but I don’t see him as an imp – I was thinking along the lines of Puck ( ‘A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream’ by William Shakespeare.), that kind of character.  I was then given the information that he didn’t want to be indoors, at all, he should be out-doors, by water, and I got an image of a reed-bed, with a pool, nice and cool and rippley water.  I said this, and Mike confirmed that he saw green, that he should be amongst green plants.  I said to Kathleen, that, if it was me, I’d place him down by the Bronze Age site, where there’s a nice, reedy bit.  Fact is, I think he wanted us to place him, as I have very specific instructions, about where he should be placed, but…..he’s kind-of Kathleen’s, it’s her place, and he was left, in their cairn.  She says she’ll do as I suggested, and I’m leaving it to him, to get through to her, to let her know just where he’s to go.  Kathleen is very receptive, and I’m sure that, if he tries to, he’ll get through to her, especially if she goes to the rushy place, and he can direct her, then.  So, that’s where we left it.  Then, after wards, when we were walking to and from the cairn, we were talking about the character who we now refer to as ‘Yer man in the rushes’, and we realised that he’s a very male being, and was happier dealing with Mike, than with Kathleen and I, which is maybe why Mike and the geologist could see him straight away, but Kathleen and I, couldn’t.  Maybe.  I was sure he was to do with water, and then realised that he’s a Water Sprite!!!!!  That’s what he is, a Sprite, and he belongs near water.  I’d love him to live by our pond, but, well, he’s to be on Liddle Farm, where he was left, by the person, who left him!  He’s fine, as long as he’s outside, but I wouldna’ trust him in the house!  He’d be up to things!

As I said, this is where some folk think I’m nuts, and others, don’t.  The ladies at the Eagle Cairn, accept me, and what I say, and, remember they’re daughters of Ronnie, who found the cairn, in the first place, and was a very intuitive man.

So, there’s the tale.  Meeting the Water Sprite, ruffled me up, quite a lot, a strong character to meet.  But, going to the cairn, settled me again.  I thought he might make his presence felt, when we got home and went to bed and all was still, but he didn’t, because he’s got his message across, and is going to be, where he wants to be, so, that’s o.k.

Then, there was a new development of the story.  Friend Jeanne gave me a book,  ‘The Little People of the British Isles’.  As I was reading it, and turned the page to page 13 (!), I saw someone, who I had seen before.  On page 13 is a drawing of a Water Sprite, and the drawing is the image of ‘Yer man in the rushes’.  The man who drew him, must have actually seen this kind of character.  It really is, just him, the very essence of him.  Well, well, well. ain’t life a gas?

Map of walking in South Ronaldsay

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  1. When we were there, looking out over a perfectly calm sea, I gave a thought to all those people who perished in the Opal and Narborough, in very different weather conditions.

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