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Out n About in Orkney
Saturday, August 13, 2005

hello from Orkney... a group of remote and pretty islands off the North coast of Scotland. Alun and I have been touring them by kayak for almost 2 weeks now. The tides are very strong here and we had fun crossing a race called 'the Pentland Firth' just to get to Orkney. Currents get up to 14 knots there... needless to say we tried to cross at slack water but as it's 14km across and slack water lasts only a few minutes then we encountered a few strong tidal streams! It was pretty windy for the first week, giving some exciting conditions for paddling and we chose to stay on shore and explore some of the towns, villages, hills and hundreds of archeological sites here. It's a great place to visit because it's fun whether you are on land or on sea. My favourite island so far is NOrth Ronaldsay which has a 13 mile wall all the way around it to keep the sheep on the beach where they feed on seaweed. We saw people sheering with hand sheers, gazed up at the tallest landbased lit lighthouse in the British isles (do you notice how there are always about 4 precursors to ... the best/ tallest/ biggest... etc!), saw lots and lots of birds which I'm learning to tell apart, and were fed very well (including on local mutton). I'll write more when I get home.... there are free showers where we have landed here on Rousay island so I better go and get clean.


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