Orkney Walks – More Matters Geological

By Bernie Bell

walking boots F DriverFor this walk, taking an O.S. map is advised, and wearing wellies is strongly advised, as the walk includes some very soggy bits.  On the map, there are three wells, marked with a ‘W’, they are now not so much wells, as pools, or at least, soggy bits.

But I’m jumping the gun!  We thought we’d go to the Point of Ayre, in Deerness, and sit on a lava flow to eat sandwiches.  You don’t have to go to Hawaii to find a lava flow, we have one here on Orkney!  Heading towards Deerness, from Kirkwall, just before Deerness Stores, marked P.O. on the map, there is a right turn, marked ‘Newark Bay’. Follow that road, and you can park in a small car park at the eastern end of the Bay, this means that you can look back, along the Bay, and down the coast, and plan another walk.

There is a small, wooden, partly obscured by grass, sign, pointing to the path you want to follow, marked ‘Aikerskaill Road.’  Follow this path, with good views across the stony beach, to Copinsay, the Holms of Copinsay, and the Horse of Copinsay (spellcheck offers ‘popinjay’!)

newark walk b bell

You’ll pass another small car park, with a picnic bench and sit-ootery, then continue along, through a gate, following a sign for the Point of Ayre

point of ayre sign b bellWhen you get to the Point, you’ll find an information board telling you about Copinsay & Co, which you can see, right across from you

information board ayre b bellIf you look down, to your left, you will get your first view of the lava flow, flowing out from under your feet!

ayre walk b bell

You then go down into the little bay and ….there it is!!!!!!!!!  Follow the beach round your right, and the lava flow will be revealed in all its glory.

lava flow deerness

I don’t know where the volcano was, maybe someone reading this, can tell me?   All these millennia later, it’s still easy to see how this, now solid, rock, flowed and bubbled.

This place excites me – the idea of the energy produced, the rocks flowing, the volcano erupting into flame.  I got very excited, and took a lot of pictures.  Here are some of them…………..

And, above the flow, a different kind of energy is being produced by three huge wind turbines

lava flow and bernie

As the light was going, we walked back the way we had come.  The light on the Copinsay lighthouse started to flash, and the lights on the wind turbines came on, and a light on the distant Pentland Skerries started to flash, too.  The Curlews were calling, the daylight fading, over the rocks and the sea.  What a way to spend a day – playing on a lava flow.

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