Longhope, Hoy, Orkney, UK
The wind is wild. The ocean, many colored. Dark blue, white, black, turquoise, green.
I walked on the southern coast of South Walls and watched the water break on the cliffs where seals eye the shore and lichens rule the rocks. The walk is about 3.5 hours of wind and grass. It is not possible to get lost because you simply follow the coast until you see the lighthouse.
South Walls is connected to Hoy by a short causeway. On the South Walls side of the causeway is a small, gravel parking area for those who wish to hike the coastal path. To call this a path is using the word a bit loosely. A slight depression in the grasses is a bit more accurate. This adds to the remote feeling. You know you've wandered a bit far from the way when you begin stepping in boggy holes that are hidden by the matted grasses.
I met one person walking her Border Collie. The dog immediately ran to me and dropped a stick at my feet. Patiently waiting for me to throw it, the black and white beauty sat down a few feet away. I, of course, obliged, while her owner explained that she would do it all day if I agreed.
This land is wild and sparse. The sheep seem not to mind. I saw strange grasses --lovely waving cottony drifts of white.
The walk was totally delightful but on a truly windy day I can imagine it would have been frightening--I would not wish to get blown over the edge of these cliffs. The wind on these islands is dangerous. I was told that we should only open one car door at a time (to avoid taking flight?) and that you should always hang onto the door when you open it, to be sure it is not ripped off its hinges.
Other areas of the island are also interesting. I saw an ancient, worn gravestone from the 11th century with an unmistakable skull and crossbones. I climbed inside a stone that was hollowed out by hand before the pyramids of Giza were built.
Just over three hundred people live on this island. The school has seven students. I think it would be lovely to live here if you like solitude and nature. And sheep.
The ferry is a way of life in Orkney. I tried hard to nap through the nearly two hour, unsettling ferry ride Scrabster and Stromness, but the small ferry between Houton and Lyness was much kinder to my equilibrium.
In July, the daylight goes on and on, until 11:00 pm. I couldn't seem to become tired.
Everything delighted me. But mostly the sheep.