By Bernie Bell
I‘d never been up Brinkie’s Brae. It’s a short walk, which Mike often does from work in his lunch time, but it’s never seemed enough to go for, as a walk. It was the 27th December, we needed to get out and get some air, but nothing too strenuous, so Brinkie’s Brae seemed like just the job – and it turned out to be so.
We drove along Back Road, above Stromness, and, just opposite the entrance to the Old Academy buildings, we turned up Downie’s Lane, drove along a little bit, and parked in a small lay–by at the side of the road, with this view, over Stromness Marina, the islands of Inner Holm, Outer Holm, Graemsay, and, of course – Hoy.
The weather was…..changeable, reminding me of Billy Connolly’s remark that, if you don’t like the weather in Scotland, wait 10 minutes, and it will change. We had sunshine, showers, big black clouds, more sunshine, rainbows – it was all happening. Certainly blew the cobwebs away.
By the time we got to the trig point at the top of Brinkie’s Brae, it was decidedly gloomy – Hoy’s ‘dark and lofty isle’ was lowering through the murk.
We carried on along the path, then saw a sign, and a rainbow, pointing the way to the ‘Sofa Stone’. We followed this short side-path and sure enough – a Sofa Stone – made for giants!
Back to the main path, where it’s possible to go down a steep path from here, to make the walk into a circuit. This path leads back to Downie’s Lane, just above the Old Academy buildings, where you turn left, and back up Downie’s Lane to the lay-by. This means walking on the road, and we’re not keen on walking on roads, so, we returned, the way we had come. Pausing at the trig point to watch a little boat coming into Stromness, we realised that we could see The Hall of Clestrain across the water, in Orphir, and, with Mike’s super-dooper camera, got a photo.
The Hall of Clestrain was the home of John Rae – the explorer, who discovered the full extent of the North West Passage. There is now a John Rae Society, whose aim is to get full recognition for the man and his singular achievements.
Then into Stromness to Julia’s Bistro for a lovely lunch. As we drove out of Stromness, we pulled in by the Brig O’ Waithe, hoping to see an otter – no luck today. We’re quite sure that as soon as we turn our backs, they get out their tap shoes and canes, and do a nifty little dance routine.
And then we, went home.