Culture

A Short Walk – With Long Views

By Bernie Bell

Pics by B&M Bell

An OS map and waterproof footwear would be a very good idea for this walk!

Last summer, when the Covid situation eased up for a while, someone called by for a cuppa. We’d all done Flow Tests, were outside most of the time, and all was well – those were the days.

He told us about a short walk on the Birsay Moors which we hadn’t previously been aware of, so I ‘put it behind my ear for later.’

On Sunday a short walk was what was needed – not too tiring, but something to clear our heads – so we went for what will now be known to us as ‘Simon’s Walk’.

We parked in the usual car park by the strangely un-informative information board….

….but it does give an idea of where I’m writing about – Birsay Mid Hill, not Stenness Mid Hill!  https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/08/16/bernie-bell-orkney-walks-with-stories-mid-hillstenness-a-view-from-the-hill-2/

Then, we turned right and walked down the road, seeing the Hoy Hills ahead of us across the way – dominating the skyline as always.

It’s hard to describe which turning to take to go up Mid Hill, and there are a few which could be false starts as they soon turn into bog land.  The best thing I can do is present a picture of what the track you need to follow should look like…..

As we walked up the track views opened out around us, including one of the succession of the Lochs of Harray and Stenness, and Hoy sound, divided by the Brigs O’ Brodgar and Waithe…….

Looking back the way we came, over to Wyre, Egilsay…..

…and the distinctive dome of Gairsay ….

I was thinking that, when sea levels were lower here the position of Gairsay in the landscape could have meant that it looked something like Costa Hill does now.

It’s when you get to the Trig point at the Top of the hill that the extent of the long views appears – all around you – right over to Westray…..

…….and across the Loch of Swanney to Costa Hill….

We mooched about a bit down the other paths from the Trig point, which meant that we looked across to the wind turbines and RSPB bird hide on Burgar Hill…..

Enough was enough for that day so we re-traced our steps, marvelling again at the views – looking right over to the Atlantic and the coast of Mainland Scotland in the far distance – too far for our cameras to manage with any clarity!

It is a short walk, and the immediate surroundings could be said to be a bit bleak – a bit ‘blasted heath’ – especially on an over-cast day in January, but what a place for looking around you – and clearing your head!

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2 replies »

  1. There is in fact, a circular walk you can take if you follow the road through the hill. It takes you out at the farm of Hundland and you can walk round the Hundland Loch, through the Hillside and back to your starting point. Only one wet spot to negotiate, a couple of hundred metres before you exit the hill road at Hundland, so rubber boots are advised. If memory serves, it’s about 8 miles.

    • Thank you Katrina – I couldn’t have managed it that day – I go up and down with energy levels, and the aim was the Trig point, and back. It was very tempting when we got there, to carry on – but – ‘discretion is the better part of valour’, so we turned back.
      But…another time when I’ve got more vim and vigour!

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