St. Mary’s Walk

By Bernie Bell

Pics by B&M Bell

It’s not a dance, or a fiddle tune – it’s a walk along the shore from St. Mary’s, Holm (pronounced Ham).  You can park in a small parking place just along and across the road from an old Nissan hut called The Strond – worth mentioning, as you can’t miss it!

Then, you’ll see the sea to your left, and a loch to your right – which is a good place for bird-watching. Starting off along the track between the sea and the loch, we could see a new path, to our right, with a little bridge crossing the river…

It looks like this path would take us on a walk round the loch, but we’ll save that for next time. This time, we’re walking along the coast, looking over to Scapa Flow, where we see the first of the oil platforms….

And seals, basking on the rocks

The oil tankers and platforms of Scapa Flow make much of themselves along this stretch of coast…

The tankers, in particular, can look quite striking against the hills and the sky…

It’s quite hard to do justice to the views along this walk – we tried taking photos, but they just don’t catch the sweep of it – the sea, the Southern Isles, the sky.

It’s a walk on which to stop, and stand, and sit, and look about you…………….

There are a couple of little coves, one in-accessible …

And one accessible…

……which has a small, but interesting sea-cave – who can resist a sea-cave?

In this cove, Mike found something to delight my rusty-old-metal-loving heart – I don’t know what it is, but it reminds me of a Shaman’s mask!

Following the well-marked path, we pass through a kissing-gate, on to the tarmac road, and head downhill back towards St. Mary’s village, noticing a colourful  ‘THANK YOU NHS’ sign on the wall by the first houses.

Then back to the car, and a cuppa before heading home.

Another Grand Day Out Gromit!

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5 replies »

  1. Can you ensure that there are enough sign post as people are now entering into private properties while doing this walk as they can’t find the exit gate.
    Also if they follow the cliff it is pretty dangerous and unlevelledhave seen 2 different couple so far passing our private garden and going through the fence.

    • Hello Sophie

      I have only just seen your comment.

      I have absolutely no control over signage, and, as we’re familiar with the walk, I thought it would be clear enough to people, if they look about them. It looks like it isn’t! I’ll have a go at directing folk the right way….

      Standing above what I refer to as the accessible cove – don’t carry on along the top of the cliff – instead, from the concrete bases for….whatever they are…..head diagonally across, through a soggy, ‘rushy’ area, aiming for where you can see that there are properties. A line pretty much diagonally across, should work. You will then find the kissing gate I mentioned.

      I hope that this is clearer – I can sympathise with you, if folk are not only wandering onto unsafe terrain, but also wandering onto people’s gardens.

      I hope that this will help the situation.

      You could maybe get on to the Council about clearer signage?

      It could even be, that there are more folk doing this walk, because of the new walk round the loch – which I mention noticing at the beginning of this walk. Since then, there has been some controversy about people behaving irresponsibly on that walk – I have written a piece about that too, which I hope will appear in The Orkney News at some point.

      These walks are good places and good for people to do, if they will just have a bit of sense and thought about what they are doing!

  2. Thanks for getting back to me.. I agree it is a nice walk to do and I know where to go as Iive close by so know the way around.

  3. Eoin Ross commented…..

    “I recognised your picture. It’s an old nineteenth century gun emplacement near Skaildaquoy Point, Holm which was “manned” by a local militia, the Holm volunteers.
    Although it’s on a coastal path there are sadly no signs to say anything of its purpose and history.”

    We’ve done this walk many times, and just thought that was an exceptionally uniform lump of rock.

    So much gets lost and forgotten.

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