Orphir walk

Mentioned in the 1136 Orkneyinga saga the Orphir circular Kirk is the last remaining circular church in Scotland. The plan is said to be inspired by the rotunda of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem which was increasingly visited by pilgrims following the capture of the Holy Land in the first Crusade. One of these was Earl Hakon who traveled there to atone for ordering the death of St. Magnus on Egilsay in about 1116. The Orphir Kirk may have been built after his return and before his death in about 1123.

Orphir round kirk Orphir round kirk

The St Magnus trail follows the coast round the north shore of Scapa Flow.

Shoreline near Orphir

The wall round the edge of the field has a heavy covering of lichen.

Lichen on a stone

Further along the headland are a pair of fishermans’ cottages.

Fishermen's huts

The tip of the headland looks out onto the stretch of water where on 5th August 1917 Squadron Commander Edwin Dunning became the first person to land a plane on a moving ship.  Taking off from Smoogro in a Sopwith Pup he landed on the flying off deck of HMS Furious dodging the funnels and the turbulence they produced.  Well before the invention of arrester wires a grappling party of the ship’s deck hands grabbed hold of ropes that had been attached to the plane in order to restrain it.  Unfortunately five days later he died attempting to repeat the feat when, despite the best efforts of the grappling party, his aircraft fell off the side of the deck and he drowned.

Shoreline near Orphir

Continuing along the path the coast line flattens out and there is now a fish farm close to the shore.

Shoreline near Orphir Shoreline near Orphir and fish farm offshore

Returning to the fishermens’ cottages and heading inland near Gyre farm there is a small area of woodland, very unusual for Orkney.

Gyre farm woods Gyre farm woods

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Standing stones walk

The first set of standing stones were the Stones of Stenness.  The name comes from the Norse Stein Ness meaning stone point which suggests they have been the dominant feature of this area for most of human history as this is one of the oldest henges in the British Isles.

Stones of Stenness

Behind the stones is a settlement.  This features a large building surrounded by circular borders and the entrance to the Standing Stones faced in this direction suggesting it had some form of ceremonial significance.

Barnhouse settlement

Next to this is a building with two hearths that is constructed in a similar way to burial cairns which suggests this was also a significant, non-residential, building.  Behind this is a residential building, similar to those found at Skara Brae.

Barnhouse settlement

Following the path towards the Ring of Brodgar past the Loch of Stenness the peaks of Hoy are visible in the distance.

Loch of Stenness and Hoy

The Ring of Brodgar is a much larger stone circle that is 500-1000 years newer than the Stones of Stenness and is the third largest in the British Isles.

Ring of Brodgar Ring of Brodgar

The path returns to the Stones of Stenness and on the other side of the cuaseway that links them lies Loch Harray.

Ring of Brodgar Loch of Harray Standing Stones of Stenness

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Markwick Head walk

We start at Marwick Choin, a bay that has a lagoon when the tide goes out.

Choin - Marwick

On the beach is the remains of the boiler from the tramp steamer Monomoy which was wrecked in 1896. As boilers were built to withstand enormous pressures even 124 years later there is still a significant amount of metal remaining.

The boiler of the steamship Monomoy, wrecked in 1896

Some of the internal structures are still visible.

The boiler of the steamship Monomoy, wrecked in 1896

The boiler of the steamship Monomoy, wrecked in 1896

Further out there is a large sheet still mostly intact.  From here you can see across the lagoon to the Kitchener memorial on the headland to the north.

View across the Choin to the Kitchener memorial

Continuing around the southern coast line there are some fishermens’ huts at Sand Geo.  These were built after the Monomoy ran aground and blocked access to the beach meaning the fishermen had to relocate their boats.  The fishermen were local farmers who would fish using hand lines for cod and haddock that they would consume themselves rather than sell.  The huts were restored in 1984.

Fishermens' huts at Sand Geo

Sand Geo

At the top of the inlet is the winch they would have used to haul in their boats.  It is said to have been salvaged from the wreck of the Monomoy.

Winch at Sand Geo

Returning past the Choin and continuing up the path along the cliff tops we come to the Kitchener memorial.  Secretary of War, Lord Kitchener was on the HMS Hampshire with a delegation to Russia on 5 June 1916 when at 8:45 it hit a mine laid by U-75 and sank off Marwick Head in a force 9 gale with the loss of 737 souls – there were only 12 survivors.  The memorial was built by public subscription and unveiled in 1926.

Kitchener Memoral

In 2016, again by public subscription, a memorial wall was added listing the names of the other 736 people who lost their lives.

Names of crew lost on HMS Hampshire

There now follows a brief interlude for lunch on the cliff tops.

Lunch of champions

The path continues around the cliff tops with some fine views of the Atlantic.

Kitchener Memorial and Markwick head

Marwick head cliffs

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Evie anti-torpedo netting

Piled up at the back of the beach at the Sands of Evie is a section of anti-torpedo netting.  This is made up of interlocking rings of thick gauge galvanised wire, somewhat like chain mail.

Anti-torpedo netting on Evie beach

Where it’s above the high water mark it’s still in good condition but where it’s regularly covered by the salt water it’s got a fair amount of surface rust.

Anti-torpedo netting on Evie beach

The steel hawser that ran across the top is still clearly visible as are a number of joints with shackles attached, I assume this is where the floatation boys were attached.

Anti-torpedo netting on Evie beach Anti-torpedo netting on Evie beach

South Ronaldsay War Memorial

This is situated on the main road on the southern approach to St Margaret’s Hope.

South Ronaldsay War Memorial

South Ronaldsay War Memorial

To commemorate and honour the men of Sth Ronaldshay who fell in the Great War.

  • The dates of the war are given as 1914-1919 on the ends of the surrounding wall.

WWII

The WWII names have been added to the side of the memorial following the style of the WWI panel.

South Ronaldsay War Memorial

Middle of the island

Graemsay

Sanday War Memorial

This is situated at the crossroads in the middle of the island at Lady Village.

Sanday War Memorial

Sanday War Memorial

Sanday War Memorial

Sanday War Memorial

In grateful and ever loving remembrance of the men of Sanday who died in the service of their King and country in the Great War 1914 – 1919.

Erected by the inhabitants of the island.

“Their name liveth for evermore.”

  • The Sanday Heritage Centre next to the memorial has a display giving more information about the memorial and the men commemorated on it.
  • The memorial was dedicated on 17 June 1921 with a large crowd in attendance.

WWII

Three WWII names have been added to the base of the memorial following the style of the WWI panels.

Sanday War Memorial display in the Heritage Centre

Sanday War Memorial display in the Heritage Centre

Sanday War Memorial display in the Heritage Centre

Hackness Martello Tower

Hackness Marshmellow Tower

Walls War Memorial

This is situated on the main road opposite the harbour in Longhope.

Walls War Memorial

Walls War Memorial

Walls War Memorial

Walls War Memorial

 

To the glory of God and in grateful memory of those from this parish who gave their lives for King and country in the Great War 1914 – 1918.

Erected by the parishioners of Walls, Orkney, 1921.

  • Longhope is the main village in the parish of Walls that encompasses the island of South Walls.

WWII

The WWII names have been added to the base of the cross at the front and left side following the style of the WWI panels.

Firth War Memorial

This is situated in the corner of the graveyard in Finstown next to the main Stromness to Kirkwall road.

Firth War Memorial

Firth War Memorial - north face

Firth War Memorial - west face

Firth War Memorial - south face

Firth War Memorial - east face

In memoriam
Sailors and soldiers of Firth who sacrificed their lives in the Great War 1914 – 1919.
Greater love hath no man than this.

  • The dates for the war are shown as 1914 – 1919.
  • Finstown is the main village in the parish of Firth.

WWII

The WWII names have been added to the base of the cross at the front and left side following the style of the WWI panels.