2013 is the year is the Year of Natural Scotland, so all over the country special things are happening. Here in Orkney, Enjoy Wild Orkney is putting on a Nature festival, with activities all over the islands. They arranged different days out, and yesterday was Flotta. the organisers came over a couple of times and worked out with those on the island what we would like. As a result of those formal and informal meetings they laid on boat trips round the island, walks – and I was doing felting.
I booked on the first boat trip of the day. The boat belongs to Magnus Spence, and is usually a dive boat. There were six of us ‘passengers’, including Steve and Nigel. The boat was crewed by Magnus and Magnus, one doing most of the driving and the other most of the talking!
Leaving the pier, we headed off round West Hill, and over the water to the island of Switha, a notable seal hauling area. We went fast, and Nigel loved it. When we slowed to look at the seals, he kept signing that he wanted to go faster again!
The seals were as gorgeous as ever. I never tire of watching them….
Then it was back to the coat of Flotta, to Stanger Head. Usually I walk across the top of the cliffs.
This time I could see that it was actually a land bridge I walked over, and there was a hole right through the rock.
We came along the coast, and the rain pured down. It only lasted a few minutes, but it was drenching while it lasted. While it rained, we passed another boat out fishing:
Flotta is a C-shaped island, with the population living on the bottom half of the C. The top half is the Golta Peninsular. Like the rest of Flotta, there are lots of concrete structures left from both World Wars, as Scapa Flow was a very important harbour for the Allies.
We went round to the north of it, to where a lot of war metal is dumped. This includes the remains of a torpedoed submarine, and tons and tons of the steel nets which were strung across the entrance to Scapa Flow to stop shipping and submarines getting in.
The next bit was the most ‘interesting’! We were landed at the old pier. The state of the tide was such that this meant getting out on to an uneven, slippery surface, about 3 feet wide, and to walk up towards land. I concentrated on getting Nigel to the end safely – that was MY excuse and I am sticking to it…
The day was being filmed, and here we met Graham (with the camera) and Julian, one of the folk who had organised the day.
We also met the other group who had walked over Golta and were to take the boat back.
I can’t walk that far, so I went along with Julian and Graham in the landrover (thanks Julian!) to see some of the sights. This included the Z batteries. These are row upon row of semicircular concrete structures with plinths between. They were rocket launchers, and could put up a barrage of fire power to protect the fleet.
Then it was back to the Community Centre for lunch. The usual Flotta ladies (and gents) did the usual fabulous food. They had also been up a long time the night before putting photographs of Flotta wildlife up on the walls, which was much appreciated by those who came.
After lunch I did the felting. There were some folk going off on a walk and they did the quick version. Those who were spending the afternoon with me, took things more slowly and felted both stones and made rattles – two limpet shells with a winkle shell inside then felted. These were made on some islands as toys for children, and they are equally love by cats!
Back at the pier the seals were hauling up on their rocks totally unconcerned by the ferry and people. In fact it looked for all the world as if they were waving folk goodbye…