Orkney Walks: Between Two Totem Poles

By Bernie Bell

The sun was shining!  It felt like it had been ages since sun was shining! So, once we’d got used to the bright light, we decided to go for a walk. I wasn’t feeling too good, so we decided to do a short, easy walk, on a beach – nice and steady – walking myself well.  So, we drove down to the Fourth Churchill Barrier –

Churchill Barriers B Bell

–        where there is a small car park with a toilet block.  We headed for the beach, walking past  the totem pole – is a totem pole, still  a totem pole, when it just has a Viking’s head on the top?

We then walked along to the right, along the beach, where Mike found a Groatie Buckie, which are said to be lucky!

We walked as far as we could go, as the tide was well in, and still coming in –  then had a sit down on some rocks, to admire the view along the bay.

Bay at the Orkney Barriers B Bell

This meant we’d walked from Burray , to South Ronaldsay, which would not have been possible, not all that long ago!

We started off walking back through the dunes, but, then….two lads on motor bikes started buzzing through the dunes, making a terrible racket, and smell, too – exhaust fumes – lovely sea-side smell!

I have nothing against motor bikes, and the sight of a smart Harley, pleases me greatly, but not when the motor bikes are disturbing the peace of a quiet bay, on a fine Sunday afternoon, when folk are walking  their dogs – or, trying to. These lads think they’re being impressive, but they’re just being………..Asbos.

We cut further into the dunes, so we weren’t so near them, and finished our walk, with the BBBBBZZZZZZZ of the bikes, still filling the air, behind us.

We then left the annoying little Asbos behind, and drove on to St. Margaret’s Hope, to have lunch in Robertson’s café in Church Road. Robertson’s is one of those places, that has got it right. The food is delicious, and the place is a pleasant interesting place to be, with a lot of bits and pieces to look at.  Though it was a very busy Sunday lunchtime, the lassies working there took it all in their stride, and got everyone’s food to them, with no fuss or fluster.  They deserve a medal, for working that hard, and all with a smile and a friendly word. Two French-men were asking where could they go to “see places of natural beauty”.  I thought – take your pick!  And the waitress, busy though she was, went off and got them all the free information leaflets etc. which are available at the back of the café.

The premises used to be an old shop, and you can tell – it has a wonderful, solid old wooden counter  It really is very good.  Highly recommended!

After lunch, and feeling sleepy, we headed home, but stopped off at the second Totem Pole, near Holm.  This was erected some years ago, by the combined effort of some First Nation visitors, and local folk.

I wouldn’t be an Orkney totem pole without a Selkie


And, I couldn’t resist – hands – again.  The lower section of the Totem Pole is covered in carved hands – hands which make, and raise and join together, to produce.

And so, home on a fine, sunny February Orkney evening.  Can’t beat it.

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2 replies »

  1. It is a lovely spot and it is very busy on sunny days. I think you are being a bit harsh calling the motorbike lads “asbos”. They are entitled to enjoy the place as much as anyone and the dunes are obviously a draw for a young man on a motorbike – who might just turn out to be the next Scottish scramble champion! Having said that, I would find it annoying and go somewhere else. Personally, I find all the dogs just as annoying – and what they leave behind.

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