Rose Ness On A Sunny Sunday

By Bernie Bell

Pics by B&M Bell

A map and waterproof footwear are a very good idea for this walk!

We kept on seeing Rose Ness, with its Beacon, from other places, and thinking that we should walk there, sometime.

Sunday 29th November dawned, with a clear sky and sunshine, so we thought to go somewhere – UP – where we could look about us, and clear our heads.  It looked like a day for Rose Ness.

So, we drove down to the first of the Churchill Barriers, but, just before the barrier itself, we turned to the left, past the totem pole .  Then, along the road, past Graemeshall, and took the right turn towards Cornquoy.  It’s on a bend. We drove along the shore, passing a church with a cemetery, and kept going.  There’s a sign to St. Nicholas Manse – but you don’t go down there.  We kept going until we came to a left turn to Upper Cornquoy.  Carrying on along that road, we came to a small car park on the right, with a gate which leads to the beginning of the walk.

Through the gate, which is signed for the Coastal Path, and along a straight, grassy path, then through an open gateway, with a sign showing that there are paths to the left, or right…

We turned right, for Rose Ness, noting the left hand walk for another day. The land opens out here, and you don’t have to stay exactly on the path along the side of the fence. Looking back down the coastline, we saw high cliffs, along the top of which we’ll go on our next walk here!

This was all new territory to us – we’d never been here before, and it turned out to be very interesting indeed. It’s a small headland, but there is so much there – both on the land, and in the views from  the place.

Before carrying on with the walk, I’ll draw attention to a sign –

Not only should dogs be kept under control because of livestock/wildlife, but also for their own safety – there are many places along this walk where an excited dog ( or human!) could get too near to the edge, and be hurt or lost.  For that matter – there’s a place where they don’t even have to be near the edge for that to happen – more of which later.

There’s a lot of geology going on………..

Note how you can see the Horse of Copinsay, in the dip between the main part of the Island and one of the Holms – an interesting twist on how we’ve seen Copinsay, before.

Pools on top of the cliffs…..

….one with a fine, tempting,  view across to North Cairn and the Rose Ness Beacon…

We knew nothing about these, and when we got home, looked them up on the ever-reliable Canmore – and got a surprise re. the Beacon!

Whether building the Beacon on top of a Neolithic Horned Cairn was an acceptable thing to do, or not, is a moot point, as it happened in the past and any damage, has been done. But thanks to Chris Gee, we know that the cairn is there – it is recognized now. And, it meant that Mike and I, unknowingly at the time, visited two Neolithic cairns. There they are, a stone’s throw – well, a long stone’s throw – away from each other, on that headland, across from Copinsay – over-looking the seaways  – back through time.

We then came upon a Gloup, marked on the map as ‘Hole of The Ness’ – and what a hole! 

It’s been very securely fenced off but, standing by the fence, we could hear the sea, glouping away at the bottom.

Reminiscent of the Halcro Head Gloup  And the more well-known Deerness Gloup

There’s something about Gloups – something dangerous and enticing.  Which is probably why they’re always so well fenced off!

Looking out, over the edge of the cliffs again, there’s a sea-stack with Fulmars, which I see as a ‘Peace’ sign – old hippie that I am!

And then, we actually approached North Cairn….

…which we thought would be just a mound. We were pleased enough to come across a cairn which we had been un-aware of, but, an added bonus was…………… a dip in the middle, there is one, large orthostat, with more stones, poking out of the surrounding curve of the  ’dip’ ……..

Following a slightly vague path across very boggy land – side stepping round a pterodactyl ( only joking!)……..

…we headed for the Beacon as the light began to fade………

And, sheltering in the lee of the structure to escape from the wind and look about us….

…we ate our sandwiches – all un-aware that we were standing on a Neolithic Horned Cairn!

The last section of our walk took us to the Rose Ness lighthouse.  Seeing it in the distance, we had presumed that it was a large lighthouse, peeking over the rise in the land, but, as we approached, we realised that it’s a tiny wee lighthouse, which looks like a giant took the top off a normal sized light house and placed it there!

The sun was setting as we retraced our steps to the car park.

With a sunset like that, at this time of year, it was probably a day for Maes Howe, too.  Not allowed, for this year – it’ll all have to happen, un-seen by humans. It’ll still happen though – the light comes into the darkness, to show that light and life will return to the world.

I wonder if, at this time of year, the folk at what is now called Rose Ness, were preparing for their annual trip to Maes Howe, the Ness of Brodgar, and the Neolithic Heart of Orkney?

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