Armin's World Tour of Scotland

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Facts of the Day:
Date: 29/July/2002
From: Kirkwall
Via: Don't know yet
To: Kirkwall
Miles: 66
Midges: none
Weather: Cloudy but dry (until the evening)
Mood: OK

Picture of the Broch of GurnessAfter all the rain the previous day it would be interesting to see how this day would develop. The morning started dry, so I decided to leave for the West Mainland to visit a few places I hadn't seen yet two days earlier. My first destination was the Broch of Gurness near EviePicture of the entrance to the brochPicture of stairs in the broch, overlooking Eynhallow Sound towards the island of Rousay. Some of the surrounding village has disappeared due to erosion of the coastline, but substantial parts and most importantly the broch remain. The broch itself is dating back to around 100 BC, it had a central hearth, a well and several stone cubicles and cupboards. The surrounding village is also well preserved, some of the stone shelves and hearths still recognisable. The visitor centre was closed (for lunch the sign said), which was good and bad: I got to see the broch for free, but missed out on the exhibition.

Picture of Earl's PalacePicture of Earl's PalaceNext was Birsay, where I started with the ruins of the Earl's Palace. It was built by Robert Stuart, then Earl of Orkney, between 1569 and 1574 using the forced labour of the islanders. The palace had four wings around a central courtyard, the upper rooms highly decorated and richly furnished. It seems the palace was only used for about a century and had fallen into decay by 1700. Only the ruins remain today, but the scale of the palace is still impressive, especially if compared to the Earl's Palace in Kirkwall.

Picture of the tidal isletFrom the Earl's Palace it is not far to the Brough of Birsay, a tidal islet. It is only accessible during the two hours each side of low tide via a causeway. The first thing coming into view is the Norse settlement and Church (which I didn't visit, I just looked back to it on my way to the other side). There is a small museum, which I skipped as well. I just walked around the island and took a look at the cliffs on the other side. The view from the mainland is deceiving, as there are high cliffs on the ocean facing side. I watched the birds nesting in the cliffs for a while before returning to the mainland via the causeway. By the time I left it had started to rain again, so I decided not to visit Marwick Head any more. This was probably a wise decision as the rain became very heavy soon afterwards during my drive back to Kirkwall. The evening was spent using the laundry facilities at the Royal Oak House, getting ready to move on...Picture of the villagePicture of the causeway

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