By Bernie Bell
For this walk the main thing is to follow the ‘arrers ( for non-darts players, that’s arrows) – the Harrier ‘Arrers – otherwise, as we did, you can end up thrashing about in a lot of boggy heather which is very heavy going for humans and is not good for the well-being of the heather.
I’ll try to give clear directions, but following the Harrier ‘Arrers, is the best plan.
The Hobbister RSPB Reserve is in the Parish of Orphir. We parked in the small car park, checked the information board and map – in light of following events, obviously not paying enough attention….
We set off along the track – ahead of us, views of Scapa Flow with its oil rigs and tankers……
…..note the presence of Harrier ‘Arrer, pointing the way.
The land is generally soggy and boggy, and we noticed in the ditch by the side of the track – frogspawn! The frogs have been busy, and there’s a lot of it this year – A GOOD THING!
Walking along, Mike noticed a crash landing on the other side of the fence………
…and I walked on, singing “I lost my heart to a star-ship trooper…” I do remind myself of Donkey in the ‘Shrek’ films, sometimes!
The track became more of a path, then, in places, the path became a stream…
Very wet and muddy, but we were both wearing wellies, so it didn’t matter.
The wider track carries on, but this is where it can get a bit confusing. We mis-read the signs and arrows, and carried on straight ahead, where the paths just peter out and disappear, which was how we ended up in heather, sedge, mud and confusion!
To follow the Scapa Flow Coastal Trail, we should have turned off onto a small path to the left. So, when you see this sign….
……turn down the – not very distinct – path to the left.
Just past the Harrier ‘Arrer sign, there is another sign for the St. Magnus Way…….
This is because you can either follow the path crossing the stiles and the hills to Kirkwall as part of the St. Magnus Way https://www.stmagnusway.com/resources/st-magnus-way-route-map-section-five-orphir-to-kirkwall ,
or, by walking down towards the coast, and veering to your right, you can follow the Scapa Flow Coastal Trail.
A little way along this path is a conveniently placed bench – much needed after going astray and having to re-trace our steps. We sat and ate our sandwiches, looking across at two tempting little bays, which must be pretty much only accessible to kayakers.
The sea- way beyond these bays leads to Scapa Bay https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/11/03/orkney-walks-scapa-bay-all-it-holds/ .
We continued along the cliff-top path, then turning right and inland along by the fence,https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/09/16/waulkmill-bay-on-a-sweet-september-day/ with Waulkmill Bay to our left….
Then turning right again, onto a wide track, which included an example of Nature’s own art-work……
…and back to the car park. A quite strenuous walk – would have been a lot less so if we’d followed the ‘arrers and followed the right path in the first place. We’ll know next time……
Bye the bye……the frogspawn in the ditch should be OK – it was a very wet ditch. If you see frogspawn in a puddle, which is likely to dry up, if you can would you please put it in a bucket and put it in a pond, or other very wet place which won’t dry up.
Believe it or not, when you see all the spawn this year, the frogs do need help. Their habitat is being reduced – all those farm ponds which have gone, all the natural ponds which are disappearing under ‘development’.
Please help the frogs! You never know – you might find a Prince.