(Please also read: TRAVEL JOURNAL: ORKNEY & ECO BIKE TRIP)
The second day in Orkney could be one of the toughest days of my life…
We departed from Jemma’s BnB, at about 7 in the morning and continued our bike trip to the west part of the Mainland of Orkney. We first arrived at the Old Finstown.
Finstown is the third-largest settlement on the island and formerly called “Toon o’ Firth”. It’s a tiny but tidy town (or village !?). We had a short break there before we were off to our first destination – Standing Stones of Stenness.
Standing Stones of Stenness located at the bank of the stream between Loch of Harray and Loch of Stenness. It may be the oldest henge site in the British Isles. Those massive standing stones have been here for over 5000 years. However, one of the most famous Odin Stones was destroyed in 1814 by a farmer named Walter Scott, just because he got annoyed by local people who still perform the traditions and rituals with the stones. (What a shame..)
Leaving Standing Stone of Stenness, we arrived at another spectacular Neolithic henge, the Ring of Brodgar.
Ring of Brodgar is famous for the exceptional stone circle. Historicists still have no idea when the stone circle was formed but intended to believe it has been erected between 2500 BC and 2000 BC in Orkney Island. Ring of Brodgar definitely looked even more mysterious to me. I couldn’t imagine the stone circle has been standing on this small remote island for so many years, and none of us can figure out the real purpose of it. I did feel a bit overwhelming after knowing there are at least 13 prehistoric burial mounds inside the henge.
We then headed to Skara Brae, Europe’s best-preserved Neolithic village.
There are nine surviving Neolithic houses and we could see how people lived their lives during the prehistoric period. Skara Brae is an interesting place to visit, there is quite a unique way of architecture, and the super comprehensive and complicated water system definitely blew my mind.
As we didn’t have much time to stay any longer, we then rode all the way to our last destination, Yesnaby.
It’s rather tough to get on to Yesnaby cliff. The road was difficult for cyclists and the weather was simply killing us. We spent some extra time to get on there and needed to find a wall to secure our bikes (and ourselves) as the wild wind was way too dramatic to handle. We tried to walk along the Atlantic coastline, but seriously, September is NOT a great season to visit Yesnaby.
We could barely walk and even talk, and needed to be extra careful to walk on the wet and muddy road. The ridiculous weather, still, couldn’t stop the beauty of the old red sandstone coastal cliff. View from the cliff was gorgeous and powerful. However, the wind was too strong during our visit, we had no choice but gave up to see the Yesnaby castle.
The weather became worse on our way back. We lost most of our energy to ride under the severe headwinds. Unfortunately, we missed our ferry back to Scotland and also lost the money on the hotel booking in Scotland. But, luckily enough, before our phones died, we managed to text Jemma’s BnB to let us stay one more night (The host was absolutely nice and kept making sure we were safe!), and find a bus to get us back to town! Plus, the amazing John O’Groat Ferry allowed us to use the old ticket instead of buying new tickets after they heard our story. Everything turned out to be great! (Updated: The hotel in Scotland refunded us even we had the last minute cancellation!)
It was a LONG and tiring day for us. After all, we just wanted to stay warm and cozy in the flat and cooked ourselves some super hot noodles as a reward! Nothing better than that!
It’s always nice to spend some time with my mate and experience something different (but somewhere where the weather isn’t so extreme next time!) I enjoyed it so much! I highly recommended anyone to visit Orkney — during a better season for sure. The island may be small, but charming and full of surprises!
Hope you like it!
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