Just a few random thoughts of Orkney…from a native of one of the world’s busiest cities.

 

It’s such a remote and beautiful place…. the wild and windy weather makes this big expanse of land both bleak and majestic, but it is also hauntingly beautiful, especially at some of the more remote headlands and shorelines. When there is no one else in sight, just the sky, sea and you, it is truly awesome. Anything that manages to grow here must be tough enough to withstand the strong winds…including the people! Despite this, we have been greeted by the welcoming sight of thousands of wild daffodils along so many of the roadside verges, reminding us that spring is indeed here even this far north.

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It appears to outsiders like us that life is somehow simple and gentle here. Watching little school-children cycling home by themselves (a small lad even manages to perfect his uni-cycle skills) one can’t help but wonder that it must be wonderful for those kids growing up so close to nature, without the distractions of the materialistic possessions which so many kids elsewhere seem to yearn for.

Everyone we meet is so friendly and trusting. We’re given free crabs, the loan and use of a car and even strangers on buses help with directions, timetables and advice. Maybe because it is so remote here, everyone has a strong community spirit and they look out for each other. In many ways, it must be tough to make a living in these harsh surroundings and yet the people we have met seem so gentle and kind.

This is the furthest north I have come in the UK, and when we left to make our way back south, I felt an odd sense of sadness knowing that it is unlikely that I will come here again. I don’t know why this seems to affect me more than other places I have left. Is it because of the remoteness of the place? The lack of crowds? One getting older and aware of one’s own mortality?

As our ferry docked in Aberdeen and we make our way to the train station, we have to wait nearly 5 minutes before we could cross…the traffic was constant. I had not seen so many cars for a while and this was a stark reminder that we are indeed heading south and in the land of big cities again.

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