Heading to Hoxa Head

walking boots F DriverBy Bernie Bell

For this walk, good boots and a good map are advised.

Pics by B&M Bell

It’s been years since we went to Hoxa Head – so long, that I only had a vague memory of the war buildings, and a stronger memory of the wonder-full Hoxa Tapestry Gallery   https://www.hoxatapestrygallery.co.uk/  – more of which, later.

It was a lowering sort of day, which seemed fitting for visiting war buildings, so, we headed off to South Ronaldsay, drove past the Hoxa Tapestry Gallery, and parked in a small car park, with an information board, and set off up the track, to explore.

The first of the WW2 structures we encountered, were some mysterious concrete rows, which reminded me of the Hill O’ Many Stanes in Caithness, which are equally enigmatic. Time passes, and the meaning and reasons for construction, are lost to us.

And another mystery……………..a lone fireplace and chimney! Standing sentinel, over the sea-ways……….

Hoxa Head 4

We then found ourselves among structures which, on the face of it, appear a bit grim, but, as at Rerwick Head https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/10/28/rerwick-head-coastal-battery-tankerness/   there’s more to them, than meets the eye. There is so much of interest here, it’s hard to choose which images to use – here goes………….

When is a cromlech, not a cromlech?

Hoxa Head 5

Shapes in the landscape……………

And, the first of the gun emplacements – collapsed, going back to the land.

Hoxa Head 8

We followed some steps, down to an underground structure

Ignoring the warning sign in the car park, Mike went into it, and, as he does, started making booming/humming sounds, which, from outside, sounded – un-earthly. The acoustics ask to be played with – but I don’t think actual musicians would get permission to play in there – a Health & Safety nightmare!

This structure is home to a bird’s nest, and a piece of rusty metal, with some very appealing colours and patterns on it, which balance beautifully with the shape of the hole in it  – Mike gets arty again.

Wending your way down through the buildings, you’ll notice a wooden kissing gate in the fence, which leads to the way back along the coastal path, and to more interesting structures.

This one has a weird kind-of rock garden on top of it, and, nearby – a different kind of rock garden, in the land…………..

As you carry on along the path, this structure then appears to be peeking round the corner of the cliff, which is covered in Thrift, and nearby – I do see faces in everything!

Another structure holds a beautiful reflection, and a window to the sea-ways

We then encountered two very striking towers, which used to hold gun emplacements

Hoxa Head 19

Each individual tower is something like a Japanese pagoda, with accompanying ‘garden’ of Sea Campion

Carrying on along the path, we saw the ‘Pentalina’ ferry approaching St. Margaret’s Hope, with Hoy and Flotta in the background – you might notice that there are two forms of energy being produced here –  a wind turbine on the left, and Flotta oil terminal on the right.

Hoxa Head 22 Pentalina

Returning  to the car, we then went back down the road a little way, to the Hoxa Tapestry Gallery, which is where Leila Thomson weaves and exhibits her tapestries, now joined by her daughter, Jo Thomson.  The gallery room, is a peaceful, contemplative space, in which to sit, and observe, and let yourself be drawn into the tapestries.

Hoxa Head 23 tapestry

Leila’s work is much appreciated and valued, and, understandably, she is booked up with commissions for years ahead.  Next to the actual gallery room, there is a room with a huge selection of prints and cards of Leila’s work, which, if you can’t manage to get yourself a tapestry, means that you can at least take home the images to look at.  I don’t know how many of these we have in our house – framed prints, postcards, and cards which we send out to mark occasions, such as wedding anniversaries ( ‘A lifetime together’), Mother’s Day ( ‘A waak tae Grannie’s’), and, of course, there are more general ones, for other occasions.  It would be impossible to choose a favourite, as they are all, and each, wonders in their own right.

Hoxa Head 24 gallery

It’s best to check that the Gallery is open, and, if it is, take plenty of time to visit there, and sit, and look , and …..BE.  Don’t hurry it – it’s not that kind of place.

And so, to lunch in St. Margaret’s Hope, stopping on the way at the Sands O’ Wright loos, where we found this……

Hoxa Head 25 Stromness rocks

Sorry, Stromness Rocks, but we’re not on Facebook, so we’re sharing the stone, this way instead.

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5 replies »

  1. Very good. It’s a pleasant walk and there is lots of wildlife to see. The stones with writing on is something I heartily dislike – they look much better without writing on them and in their original setting on a shore somewhere. Which is exactly where I put any that I find!

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