Thurso ... to the Orkneys ... by Sea

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October 17th 2017
Published: October 17th 2017
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Thurso House Thurso House Thurso House

... the lounge/ breakfast room was as comfy as sitting at home.
Coming from Inverness the railway passes thru Thurso and then continues on to Wick where there is also an airport.

The stay at Thurso House B&B was like being at home. Shiela and her husband were extremely welcoming. The town itself is small filled with stone built houses and buildings. The walls of these houses are over two feet thick ...50cm ?

Never did see the busy planning to go to the most northeastern tip of the UK.

"John o' Groats lies on Britain's northeastern tip, and is popular with tourists as one end of the longest distance between two inhabited British points on the mainland, with Land's End in Cornwall lying 876 miles (1,410 km) to the southwest. It is not the most northerly point on the island of Britain." (from wiki) Nearby Dunnet Headis further north and the bus went thru there so have dunnet.

Well, may as well post the whole story about this place since I will be going to Land's End too."

'"The settlement takes its name from Jan de Groot, a Dutchman who once plied a ferry from the Scottish mainland to Orkney, which had recently been acquired from Norway by
Moss to Stone...Stone to MossMoss to Stone...Stone to MossMoss to Stone...Stone to Moss

...such a sensual wall
King James IV. Local legend has that the "o' Groats" refers to John's charge of one groat for use of his ferry, but it actually derives from the Dutch de groot, meaning "the large". People from John o' Groats are known as "Groaters".

The name John o' Groats has a particular resonance because it is often used as a starting or ending point for cycles, walks and charitable events to and from Land's End (at the extreme south-western tip of the Cornish peninsula in England). The phrase Land's End to John o' Groats is frequently heard both as a literal journey (being the longest possible in Great Britain) and as a metaphor for great or all-encompassing distance, similar to the American phrase coast to coast." from wiki.

Caught the bus in front of the Bank of Scotland building. The journey out took an hour and went thru picturesque villages, verdant countryside and fields filled with sheep. The destiunation was ONE BIG gift shop witha small harbour and a wee walk to a lighthouse.

Visited most of the shops, had lentil soup in Road's End Coffee Shop and was on time to catch the returning coach.

The driver bringing the bus to John o'Groats voiced the opinion
Church as Guide in ThursoChurch as Guide in ThursoChurch as Guide in Thurso

...used this tower as a location point.
that the returning bus might arrive later than expected. Because on the ride to the most northeastern point of the UK we...all the passengers and the driver encountered a big adventure in the form of a heard of Highland Cattle being moved to another field. This delay took twenty minutes and all we saw were the backsides of these beasts. All along the kilometer drive house owners were out stqanding in their driveways so as to prevent the cretures from venturing in ... and they surely tried .. at each driveway or lane or road. The farmer must have r=forwarned the neighbourhood because at each possible turn-off there was a man or woman standing with a stick/pole ready to ward of the hairy-down-to-the-tail lumbering bull/cow. Most of them seemed very young and their greatest interest was nibbling the grass along the road and fowling the road with their droppings.

THere no secondary adventure on the return only a bus driver intent on making time and taking sharpcurves as if in a grande prix race. I walked to the B&B, taking in the houses and parks along the way. At six went out again to pick up Chinese...Singapore Noodles and Thai Vegetables. Both denoted spicy with one paprika.

The cooks were Asian... the cooking was Thurso-Chinese.The main ingredient on the noodles was soy sauce and the vegetables...onion, bamboo shoots, green pepper, five broccoli trees, three green onion stems, small corns cut in half... what no celery ... floated in a watered down sauce like the red stuff put on chicken balls. Ate all the noodles and fished out some of the drowned veg.

Stayed in the comfy breakfast room and worked on my blog before going to bed for sleep while watching online movie... TV channels here are quite b-o-r-i-n-g.

Shiela dropped me at the car check-in of the ferry terminal in Scrabster at 10.15. I walked to the passenger check-in and waited for the 12.00 ferry to Stormness. There is no local city bus running on Sunday.

Ferry from Thurso to Stromness = one and a half hours. Bus from Stromness to Kirkwall...who knew... = a half hour... could have wandered around Stromness and taken the bus to Kirkwall two hours later.

The bus did not let me off at the terminal because 1. too far to walk in 2. terminal closed and 3. termainal situated quite a bit out of the town proper. Decended the bus at the bus station and walked to the nearest pub at the suggestion of the red haired bible reader also getting off the bus. Looked strange enough for me to catch him in a clandestine foto but turned out to be a really nice guy. Ate a toastie that had to be defrosted??? and drank a coffee while speaking to an emotional bearded man who had come this far north to pay homage to the drowned crew of the HMSVanguard, a great naval disaster from 100 years ago ???

The barmaid showed me where to stow my pack and I was off to explore the town and find food.

Walking down Highstreet (shopping area) a wool shop was spotted .A Yarn was small but offered a wide variety of knitware and also wool.The owner was sitting at what looked like a machine to knit giant socks. It was a linker. “The Hague Linker joins the seams of knitted garments such as sleeves, body, collars, bands etc & can also be used for decorative linking.” At 300 pounds one would have to be in the 'jumper business' to make the purchase worthwhile.

I spent a considerable amount of time in the shop because it was Sunday and most .. no .. all... other shops were closed. Even the Cathedral was locked.

I did visit Annie's mother's shop opposite the Cathedral. In this shop ALL could be found including afternoon tea.

At almost 17.30 with the wind blowing and the sky spitting I headed for a place to sit and wait. The suggested restaurant was too small a space to occupy a corner for a considerable time so I went to the Kirkwall Hotel.

'The Kirkwall Hotel with stunning views to the north is one of Orkney's finest Victorian Buildings, perfectly situated within the historic town of Kirkwall, on the picturesque harbour front, close to the marina and the main shopping area.”

So I sit at the Kirkwall Hotel...its Sunday...dreary and windy.. the velvet seats are spotted with ???? ...but what to do. In the far corner on the spotted ..yuk...velvet bench I am out of the way. Food is not served until18.00. I wait out the time with a cup of tea kindly brought by
Highland Cattle DriveHighland Cattle DriveHighland Cattle Drive

...what an adventure...the white van, a 4x4, all kinds of neighbours and three men on foot is what it took to keep these beasts moving
the man at the reception desk.

Surprisingly by six the room starts to fill up. Waiting until 18.30, risotto with veggies and salad is ordered. The taste is good and none of the greasy fried stuff I see on other plates has to be eaten.

The other dinner guest all had a starter, a main and a pudding(desert).

Having eaten the last kernel of rice, the last carrot stick and the final leaf of lettuce, the knitting of my gloves to match my Hearris Tweed was continued from the ruffle up.

When the thumb gusset was finished and all the milk from the cream pitcher was drunk I began to pack up my things.

The ferry leaves for Lerwick at 23:45pm...the bus going directly to the terminal leaves the bus station in Kirkwall at 22.44. It is now 21.35. Time to go to the pub.

The pub is crowded. And loud. Retreiving my pack I set it down and who should I spy but Annie from the knitting shop. She is with her friends and introduces me all round. Deciding to stay and have a half pint she beats to paying for it.
John o'GroatsJohn o'GroatsJohn o'Groats

...not a village... just one big gift shop!!

The live band is playing and getting loud and LOUder AND LOUDEST. Had to make a video of that! Thought my head would ...who puts plugs in the ears when sitting in the cinema

Well... had to stay as long as the half pint lasted. The music was good ...oldies ... that everybody sang and danced too.

A hug goodbye and a promise to email ... and the street was reached where the eardrums slowly returned to normal.

Literally passed thru and sat down in the Orkneys. Saw only the harbour and bus station in Stromness and then very little of Kirkwall. It was Sunday...that is my defense and I must stick to it.

During the wait in the terminal I saw and heard a passenger that I hoped was not going to be in my cabin. I figured that with so few making the trip a cabin of four could be had to oneself. Wrong!

OMG... she was in 411, my number. A quick decision was made to upgrade or sleep in a pod. The stewart said she would look at the availability once we were underway. Tanksbetogot she put me in an empty cabin at the end of the corridor... told her I snored and would disturb any one sleeping with me in one cabin...that is true according to some people who havehad to sleep withme in the same room ...never have woken myself.

Cabin 430 was suite...showered...ignored the rolling of the ship/boat/ferry and slept the night away.

In the morning the passengers could stay on board until 09.30. After a small breakfast I disembarked and looked for the bus to my B&B. Had to take a taxi. Luckily the lady was in at the B&B and my room was ready ... even at ten in the morning.

Deposited the pack and with map in hand began the wander around Lerwick, capitol of the Shetlands.

Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23


The Rubbish Bin The Rubbish Bin
The Rubbish Bin

...and the table cloths were plastic, the toilet door beside the table and all close close close together..soup lentil was thin but good ...better than weak tea.
Northlink FerryNorthlink Ferry
Northlink Ferry

...let the norsemen rule ... off to the islands
A Yarn Wool ShopA Yarn Wool Shop
A Yarn Wool Shop

A felted Hare... apparently a pest hereabouts in the Orkneys

...saw this bear for the first time in India then in China and now apparently the Zoo/nature preserve has one here in Scotland ...did not go to the zoo! This pic from a flyer ad.
Chest Hair DinerChest Hair Diner
Chest Hair Diner

..can't leave this guy out...came to eat his three course Sunday dinner withhis shirt open almost to his belly button ...his friend was no better still wearing Mondays work jeans. The woman paid...sons...husbands ... lovers... oooh

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