Culture

A Hill…And A Hall….

By Bernie Bell

Pics by B&M Bell

On this, or any walk, good footwear and an OS map are advised.

After driving through Orphir village, in the general direction of Stromness, turn off to your right onto the Scorradale road.  Just about as you crest the hill, you’ll see a small parking space on the right hand side of the road.  Parking here, you’ll see two tracks – one heading up the hill to the right, and the other, just across the road, to your left. We took the path to the left, for a relatively short walk up the Hill of Midland.

It’s a good, clear, solid path – a bit roughly stony in places – but the stones stop it from getting too soggy underfoot.

There are good views over to your right, of Stromness across the bay, with the Brig O’Waithe and Stenness Loch in the distance.

Followed by views of the island of Graemsay, dwarfed by ‘Hoys Dark and Lofty Isle’… 

On reaching the top of the Hill of Midland, looking round you from the Trig. point, there are views, views and more views. Sweeping round, from the left, you will see…..Orphir Hills forming the horizon……

Scapa Flow…

Hoy and Graemsay again…then Stromness in the distance across the Bay, with a radar station in the foreground.  Ancient landscape, modern technology.……

Then Stenness Loch, and the Orphir Hills again, completes the 360 degree vista.

For us, this was a very different angle on some familiar places. We’d never seen Hoy from that side, with some impressive cliffs rising straight from the sea.  From Mid-Hill, above Stenness, we’ve looked  over to Stenness Loch, divided from Harray Loch by the Brig O’ Brodgar. https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/08/18/bernie-bell-orkney-walks-with-stories-mid-hillstenness-a-view-from-the-hill-3/

From the Hill of Midland, we see Stenness Loch divided from the sea, by the Brig O’Waithe.

After standing, wondering, and photographing, we returned to the car park, and walked down the road a bit, looking for a Chalybeate Well which is marked on the OS map – but which was not to be found!

We did come across a ruined cottage by the side of the road….

Once someone’s pride and joy, once someone’s home. This little house has a wonderful feel to it, of welcome and homeliness. I could imagine coming home, walking up the track along by the hedge of Elder – which is still surviving – and looking through the lit gable-end window, to a cosy scene within.

We didn’t go in, but stood in the doorway and said ‘hello’, admiring the solid lintel on the fireplace….

….and some boulders in the byre wall…

From a humble home, to a home on a grander scale.  We drove down the road, stopping to look across the fields, past Kristyn Grieve’s Inuksuk https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/10/20/kristyn-clestrain-and-the-inuksuk/ , to the Hall of Clestrain, home of Arctic Explorer Dr. John Rae.

The Hall is in the process of renovation by the John Rae Society https://www.johnraesociety.com/  who hope to turn the building into a lasting reminder of, and tribute to, the achievements of Dr. Rae, and also into a centre highlighting the cultural links between the far North of Canada, and far North of Scotland.  Hence Kristyn’s Inuksuk.

And so, we returned to our home, as the October day turned chill. What a way to spend a showery Sunday, and what a place to live!

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