Would you like to host a walk with Oh Comely magazine? The email from my friend Hilary pinged into my inbox. She went on to explain that Oh Comely had organised a series of five walks throughout the UK in Gloucestershire, Cornwall, Snowdonia, London and Orkney (you can read more about the other walks here). It sounded like a wonderful idea, to bring readers of the magazine together to chat, laugh and swap skills. I excitedly signed up and circled the calendar.
The day arrived, all sunshiney and bright and with a warmth in the air; it was hard not to feel excited. I was also feeling much less apprehensive than I had been before the Instameet, perhaps because I had met a few of the others before? Maybe because I knew what to expect. Probably because it was warm. And definitely because I love the area where we were walking. I will often bang on about my affection for Stromness, Im not even sorry ?
Our walk began at the ferry terminal, an area of town that is always busy with ‘boat’ traffic, fishermen, buses. This sunny day was no different, the car park was full, tourists sat with their pub lunches outside, a steady stream of traffic moving slowly in the lunchtime heat. We headed south past the pier head, past John Rae standing proud on his mount of concrete, through the cobbled street, falling in slow step with locals and visitors. We chatted and took pictures as we walked, avoiding cars as they eased past.
The town houses fall away the further south you go and you find yourself walking in line with the sea. We watched as the ferry from the mainland steamed past, sending out a tide of beautiful ripples towards us. Onwards through the campsite at Ness (note to self – must camp here once in lifetime) with its views of Scapa Flow. Along the path towards Warbeth, we ate our packed lunches looking over the sea to the hills of Hoy, pointing out places and houses we had visited or yet to visit on this magical isle. What do you mean you haven’t been!?
The circular route we had chosen meant our return to town was a trudge up steep hills and I was grateful for the company and the fields of scenic buttercups as bend followed bend. By this time the air was definitely cooler and the breeze welcomed as we caught our breaths at the top. A bemused resident chuckling at our group as we took photos of their paint chipped shed doors. We all know how insta friendly a weather worn door is, no?
Rather than returning through the main street, we began our descent into town through paths so narrow that your shoulders near touch the sides. I was doing my best at sharing my knowledge of the area – do y’know were this lane goes? Look, if you go through here? Have you seen this painted door and window frames? I was in my element and could have spent the entire afternoon weaving in and out of those cobbled little alleyways.
But, after walking for nearly two hours, our bellies were rumbling as we headed to the Ferry Inn. Our plans to eat dinner outside were quickly abandoned as the heavens opened and forced us indoors. We took shelter in the bar amongst the locals cheering on the football. I drove home in the pouring rain with a head full of plans to do it all over again. Who’s joining me?
Tall houses, with gardens and piers,
Where the stylish merchants lived,
Small slipways for the fishermen,
A new kirk, inns and ale-houses,
The street uncoiled like a sailor’s rope from north to south.
And closes swarmed up the side of the hill
Among gardens and clouds,
And closes stepped down to the harbour
And the nets and whitemaas.
Author – George Mackay Brown
Joining @hilarygrantknitwear and I on the first series of Oh Comely walks in Orkney was @orkneymermaid @fionaplus3 @mylovebirdart @kitpatlecter @katie_mac_81 and a special shout out to @louise_barrington who missed us by minutes! Sorry Louise! Please do check out their Instagram pages. You can also have a look at the hashtag #ohcomelywalks @ohcomelymag on Instagram to see everyones images from that special Sunday.
Thanks so much for reading! x