09 May 2010

Orkney - Day 2

On Monday morning we woke to rain in Orkney.....we weren't really surprised the weather forecast for the week was pretty bleak - wind, rain, cool........we were however hopeful that we may be lucky and that, as is often the case in Scotland, the weather forecast would change....

We spent Monday in Kirkwall, the main town in Orkney, first mentioned in history in 1046 and with a population of about 8500. The town's skyline is dominated by St Magnus' Cathedral, built in the Romanesque style over a period of 300 years from 1137. The cathedral is built of red and yellow sandstone quarried on the islands and is an impressive building, both inside and out. Stained glass windows, grave stones with skull and crossbones, red arches and large doors.

There are also some great shops in the town, craft playing a big part of island life as it does in many rural communities. With landscapes and history so intriguing and beguiling it is hard not to be inspired. Follow the Orkney Craft Trail to see some great examples of craft - jewellery, knitting, pottery, paintings.....from the likes of Sheila Fleet, Tait & Style, Hume Sweet Hume, the Hoxa Tapestry Gallery or David Holmes Ceramics. Usually you can visit the artists studios but if you haven't time then the shops in Kirkwall provide plenty of opportunities. Believe me I was enticed (but more of that later!)

There are also some great local food shops.....to buy Russells Orkney Cheese or Grimbster Cheese, Orkney oatcakes, Orkney preserves etc. Try Jolly's Fishmonger, Donaldson's Butcher, Shearer's Delicatessen and Hardware Store.

The harbour in Kirkwall was also interesting and colourful and we ate lunch in a small bar called Helgi's on the waterfront - good food in a nice environment.

Even if it was a dreich day, the sights and sounds of Kirkwall made it seem a whole lot brighter.


ibb said...

Beautiful north winds!

Bethany Hissong said...

That cathedral is just amazing!!! It is so incredibly old too... I can't even fathom it. And 300 years of building? Can you even imagine a project like that today? Neither can I!!

Thimbleanna said...

Oh Di -- I'm loving this series of posts! Orkney sounds like a beautiful place. I really hope to be able to visit someday. Thanks for taking the time to post some of your photos!!!