On Tuesday 29th May The Orkney News was invited to take part in the launch of Viking Hiking (Orkney Time Travel). This is a new outdoor adventure/walking tour with Dr Ragnhild Ljosland (Raggie) being the viking guide and storyteller and Mark Cook being viking chef.
There were two groups on the day, one setting out at 9.30am – 12.30pm to which around 8 people joined in, including our very own Fiona Grahame. The weather in the morning was not very clement with a haar engulfing the mainland. By the time it came for me to venture out on the afternoon hike the sun had come out and so too had the shorts.
There were 7 of us that ventured out at 2 o’clock from the Kirkwall travel centre following what used to be the original shore line in Kirkwall, stopping outside St Magnus Cathedral which like Kirkwall is built on reclaimed land. Raggie then gave us a brief history of the Cathedral and Kirkwall which really set the tone for our hike.
We then continued along Victoria Street onto Main Street where we were able to see where the shore line used to be from the shape of the road .
Continuing along New Scapa Road passed the hospital we made our way onto the new
Scapa walkway and bridle path where Raggie continued to entertain us with tales of Norse Gods and Goddesses, in this particular case Frey the God of Fertility and his twin sister Freya the Goddess of Fertility. I am being deliberately vague about Raggie’s sagas as I do not want to spoil the experience for any body else, suffice to say her knowledge and ability to tell stories is in my opinion very well worth listening to.
Once we reached the beach the brave amongst us took off their footwear, which must have come as a blessed relief to those toes, which had been cooped up in heavy hiking boots for the past couple of hours; on a day which was becoming progressively warmer with every step we took.
I was away in a wee world of Gods and Goddesses when the tinkle of pan pipes reached my ears, I turned to see Raggie playing a set of (Jorvik panpipes) which had been crafted to match an original pair that had been discovered in York.
We were met at our final destination by Mark Cook, Cook by name and on this occasion the actual cook manning the pots over an open fire. He welcomed us to the feast on the beach and proceeded to fill a drinking horn with a brew of beer to slait our thirsts.
Raggie then explained as the woman of the house it would be her job to pass the drinking horn amongst us whilst wishing us a good year and peace as she did so. This reminded me of The Cog at an Orcadian wedding.
We were then encouraged to form our own bannocks from Raggie’s pre prepared dough, which we then placed on the hot stones to cook. Whilst we were awaiting the bannocks we each took turns at helping turn cream into butter by shaking the cream in a container, a ritual I had not taken part in since I was at Primary school. It was good fun, however I can safely say that I shall stick to making butter with a hand blender in future.
The food when it was served came in traditional bowls with replica bone spoons and consisted of either chicken stew or a vegetarian stew and compliments at this stage must be given to Mark for his impressive outdoor cooking skills.
It was a wonderful experience which I know shall be being replicated throughout the summer and culminated with Mark showing us how to start a fire viking style obviously.
You can find out more about these tours by following The Orkney Time Travel facebook page.
Here is a short film of the afternoon