May 7 and 8, 2023
During this part of our trip we are visiting the Scottish Islands and coastal villages. The scenery is beautiful, the towns are quaint, and the people are friendly. How wonderful to see this side of life in Scotland!
However, there isn't a lot to write about, so this blog will actually cover 2 days, with some background and highlights about Ullapool in the Highlands (May 7) and Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands (May 8)
This town and area is in a very remote part of the United Kingdom. The town is on an island and surrounded by mountain peaks, blue seas, and green wilderness. The Viking Venus was greeted in the harbor with a maritime salute by the local coast guard (see picture below).That was cool! We tendered into town and walked around the few blocks of the "downtown" area. There were shops with locally made crafts, local gin and whisky, and a few restaurants. Because it was Sunday some shops were closed, but we managed to do some shopping! Then we had tea, Scottish shortbread cookies, and yummy fudge at a restaurant close to the dock.
Here are some pictures from Ullapool:
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland
The Orkney Islands are further north than Ullapool, but due to the position of the Gulf Stream, they don't get as cold. The city of Kirkwall was probably named by the Vikings and translates to Church on the Bay. More cruise ships visit this port than any other port in Scotland. People come to visit not only for the quaint towns and beautiful scenery, but also to see the many Neolithic historical sites that make the area a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourism is the number one source of income on the island, followed by sheep and cattle farms, and also gin and whisky production. And we enjoyed the abundance of marine and avian wildlife.
Saint Magnus Cathedral and Cemetery in Kirkwall.
Orkney Ponies - no longer for farm work, they now are mostly for show, riding lessons, etc...
Sheep and baby lambs come in many different colors.
Also note, in the background there are three oil rigs in the water. Orkney is trying to move to creating more renewable energy. They have windmills, and they are working to harvest tidal energy to store in Hydrogen cells.
Neolithic Structures - the top two pictures are of the Ring of Brodgar, which is similar to Stonehenge, but several hundred years older. On the bottom left is a neolithic burial site, and on the bottom right are some neolithic standing stones with sheep grazing around them.
On this same trip we saw seals and owls, along with some other birds I didn't recognize.
On our way to Edinburgh tomorrow!