We Return To the Orphir Hills!

By Bernie Bell

Pics by B&M Bell

For this walk, a map and waterproof footwear is recommended.

After the snow had finally cleared away, a string of beautiful days followed, one after the other.  We decided to go on the second of the walks in the Orphir Hills which we’d earmarked after this one…..

We parked in the same car park, and turned up the path to the right, this time – up by the Hill of Dale, Croy Hill and Gruff Hill, to the cairns of stone at the head of East Linna Dale.  Be warned – the track is very soggy in places – in fact, there were pools full of tadpoles!

This is one of those walks where there are striking views all the way up, then the views from the top – take your breath away.  There aren’t ‘features’ as such along the way, but there are views, views and more views.

Walking up the track, looking back to the left, to Scapa Flow with its oil platforms and tankers…

Then, looking across the ‘lie of the land’ – more of Scapa Flow, with the Scottish Mainland in the background….

Across to the Hoy Hills – looking through a gap in the hills to the mountains of Sutherland beyond …..

….and sweeping round from Hoy – Graemsay, and Stromness…

We kept seeing Small Tortoiseshell butterflies – we weren’t quick enough to get a photo as the butterfly, flutters by, but the first we’ve seen this year.

The path ends with two cairns of stones…

…and looking out from here gives a very good idea of where places are in relation to each other. We looked across to Stromness…

Then right across, over the Bay of Ireland, to the Stenness and Harray lochs………….

I tried to make out Brodgar, but it was just hidden by a rise in the land.

We sat there, feeling like we were sitting on top of the world – eating our sandwiches and looking about us. As Mike said – it would be a good place to take yourself to in a meditation.

Walking back down the track, we noticed two big smoky fires – one over beyond the Hill of Midland, which left a pall of smoke right across the vale…

We met a woman on the track who said that she had come up the hill, as her house was full of smoke!

And another, more extreme, one, which looked like it was right in Stromness….

We then headed for Stromness to do our weekly shopping, and saw more smoke as we approached…

We parked in the Co-op car park, where we could see people trying to bat the fire out with flappy things.  A fire engine was also in attendance.

We wondered –  for one thing why folk choose a fine, sunny day when other folk want to be out and about, to light smoky fires?  And also, was this a domestic fire which had got out of control?   Or was it set on purpose?

Both of the fires that we saw were anti-social, and the second one, with its great column of thick smoke, will surely have been a case of environmental pollution?

I hope they get into bother, whoever they are.

I don’t want to end on a sour note – so, here’s another nice pic from the Top of the World!

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2 replies »

  1. The Small Tortoiseshell butterflies seem particularly fluttery at the moment. Maybe because it’s so chilly? Lovely walk and views. Thanks.

    • Hi Rosie
      I was tired when I first wrote this piece, and I wrote “small tortoise” instead of Small Tortoiseshell! That would have been something to see – small tortoises flying in the Orphir hills!
      Fortunately, Mike noticed and told me before I sent it to Fiona.

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