By Bernie Bell
Pics by B&M Bell
Out from the house…….. and up the road again, turning left at the old telephone box, this time.
Cresting the brow of the hill, we pass a burial ground which puzzles me – a Kirkyard, without a Kirk. There must be a reason……..as my Mum used to say – “There must be a reason for raindrops to fall, there must be reason for falling in love.” But it puzzles me – a Kirkyard, with no Kirk.
So far, on our walks out from the house, we’ve been mostly looking out, over the sea and the islands. This time we’re looking to the hills, with Cottascarth nestling in the dale, and the Loch of Brockan in the foreground.
We’re not actually walking there today – it’s too far, but we have been to Cottascarth previously https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/07/05/bernie-bell-orkney-walks-with-stories-cottisgarth-2/ , and, if The Fates allow, we will return, when the restrictions on movement are lifted, to see how the place has fared, and what has thrived from being left alone.
We walk down the steep hill, which can be treacherous in winter – black ice – veering off the road – into the ditch – not good.
To the left, we see a small mound in the field. This wee mound, is one of those which kind-of comes and goes – depending on the light – sometimes you can hardy tell it’s there – other times, it makes much of itself. That happens a lot, on Orkney.
There also appears to be some confusion about what it is. On the OS map, it’s labelled as a Chambered Cairn – it looks like a cairn, but I double-checked by looking on the ever-reliable Canmore, which offers possibilities of a broch, or a church – or a church, built on a broch….. https://canmore.org.uk/site/1990/isbister-st-marys-kirk
So, maybe there was a kirk in this area after all!
Another snap-shot of Orkney – a mound, a farm, a wind turbine, the sea, the hills, and – Hoy Hills overlooking all.
There are so many ancient sites on Orkney, the archaeologists have a problem trying to get round to them all. They do their best though, and, every now and then, a major site comes to light, as at the Ness of Brodgar and The Cairns on South Ronaldsay. For more information on archaeology in Orkney, you could have a look at the Orkney Archaeology Society website….https://orkneyarchaeologysociety.org.uk/
We then turn left off the road, heading sea-ward again, by the Bay of Isbister – one of the bays around Wide Firth, with all its secrets.
There have been various archaeological excavations around the ‘skirts’ of Wideford Hill in recent years https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/07/31/bernie-bell-orkney-walks-with-stories-wideford-2/ , and there is also the possibility of submerged archaeology in the Bay of Firth https://www.abdn.ac.uk/staffpages/uploads/arc007/NGS%20final%20ReportFEB10.pdf.
Sea levels have risen in the last 5,000 years – there was a lot of human activity in this area, and some of the structures associated with human occupation might still be there, under the sea.
Recently, preliminary excavations for an electricity sub-station near Finstown, on the Bay of Firth, revealed what might be Bronze Age figurines… https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/12/13/poetry-corner-nine-little-figurines/ .
Scratch the surface of Orkney, and you’ll find archaeology.
Passing a farm, with new lambs – life goes on……
..we cut down to the right on a short track, to get to the shore-line of the Bay of Isbister and look about us. We didn’t find any marvels from the past washed up on the beach…….this time.
And on, round to the Bay of Puldrite, with it salmon cages. We recently got involved in a bit of help-to-keep-the-sea-clean activity. I was shouting over the fence with our neighbour – keeping our distance – and he told me that there was a big wreck of a mooring buoy – the kind used for fish cages – washed up on the beach at Puldrite. The outer plastic had broken up and the inner pellets of polystyrene were spilling out. He’d had a go at pulling it away from the beach, but it was too heavy. He asked me do I know of any organization that might help.
I don’t, but I asked our friend, who’s boyfriend works on the salmon cages, if she had any idea. She suggested that our neighbour could contact Scottish Sea Farms, and he did. Next day, folk from Scottish Sea Farms came to the bay, and took the wrecked float, away – thus saving the sea from having a lot of polystyrene pellets in it, and therefore, marine life from having polystyrene pellets in them!
We all felt pleased about this – it’s only a drop in the ocean of all the rubbish in the sea, but …… it does mean that a lot of pellets are now going to be disposed of safely, instead of being ingested by marine life, or birds. Scottish Sea Farms helped out, even though this particular buoy wasn’t one of theirs – theirs are all present and correct – they took prompt action to remove this one and will dispose of it with their own waste. A real example of community spirit in action
And then up the lang road home. This is the bit of these walks that I don’t enjoy – going up the steep hill, on which I need to stop now and then to catch my breath and do back exercises. Could be ‘wus – I might not be able to go out at all.
So, I slog on, aiming for my lunch, which always helps.
“There’s night and day, brother, both sweet things; sun, moon, and stars, brother, all sweet things; there’s likewise a wind on the heath. Life is very sweet, brother; who would wish to die?” – George Borrow.