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Scotland's Gardens and Landscapes - Orkney Islands 2012

Monday June 4.

Leave at 9 am prompt from front of City Chambers, Glasgow and travel to Kirkwall on the Orkney mainland. We will break up the journey to allow time to eat, drink and enjoy light exercise.



At Skara Bay these gulls had occupied the turf for three weeks courting and noising up anyone who came close to them.  Sitting on top of a 5000 year old wall didn't present any great problems for them. "If only these humans would stop walking past us this would be heaven".


Accommodation in Kirkwall Youth Hostel, Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA), which will be our base for our stay in Orkney. It is ten minutes walk from the centre of Kirkwall so you may dash off and sight see or shop in your spare time.

Tuesday June 5.

Orkney Mainland. Skara Brae Neolithic stone village. Standing Stones of Stenness and Ring of Brodgar, Maeshowe. Skara Brae bears testament to mans 5000 years on these islands.

Late afternoon - Kirkwall and an opportunity to explore the shops and visit St Magnus Cathedral (1137). It is a magnificent Viking building which dominates the skyline of the town.


All mod cons at Skara Brae 5000 years ago.


Wednesday June 6.

Visit the island of Hoy sometimes referred to as 'the Highlands of Orkney'.

Rackwick a crofting township of bygone days. Walk to the Old Man of Hoy and back. Optional.


Lichen on one of the standing stones at Stenness.


Time permitting visit Berridale Wood. Trees and woodlands are few and far between in Orkney making it a unique and different landscape. This is the most northerly woodland in Britain. Some experts say this is how the islands and many parts of Scotland would have looked around 5000 BC.

Thursday June 7.

Visit the Island of Shapinsay, a green and fertile place. A complete contrast to Hoy. Balfour Castle Hotel has a fine garden which is made possible by a substantial shelter belt of trees which was planted in the late eighteen century. Compare growing conditions with the gardens further south. It is always amazing to see how gardens and plants can flourish this far north. The island is home to 300 people approx.



Primula vulgaris on  Hoy.


Friday June 8.

Things to see - the Italian Chapel, a very special place. It was created from two Nissan huts by prisoners of war and is a place of pilgrimage to those who still survive and their families. The Churchill Barriers built by Italian prisoners of war to make Scapa Flow a safer anchorage for our fleet in World War Two.

If time allows and we could make an early start and visit the Tomb of the Eagles in South Ronaldsay before departing. This is an option.

We will be in Glasgow in the evening – say around 9/10 pm.

The programme may be subject to change.


Please ring me if you have any questions/suggestions – 0141 633 2228.

Brian Sutherland, Green Alba Enterprises.

January 4th. 2012.