Flotta in January

It has been a miserable month. We expect gales at this time of year, but we do not expect them to be constant for weeks on end without a break. And we do not expect thunder storms day after day. It has also been very wet, leaving the land waterlogged and turning paths into streams.

This dawn was, as it turned out, a Shepherd’s Warning! But it was striking while it lasted.

01 red sky in the morningAt the very end of the month we finally had a glorious day. It was theoretically colder than of late, with thick ice on all the puddles, but because the wind was down it did not feel nearly as cold. So we headed up to Stanger Head for a circular walk in the heather.

Flotta was an important base in both World Wars, and bits of the built heritage survive all over the island. This area was covered in barrack huts in WWII.

02 sun over StangerTurning round, with the low sun to my back, the hills of Hoy were stark against the skyline. Geese are everywhere: some passing through, some deciding the long migration back to the Arctic is too much bother, and staying here to breed. They are a real nuisance, eating the new grass, and later the new crops, and making a mess of grazing land. There are islands close which are reserved for them, but unfortunately they prefer the cultivated land to rough pasture.

03 snow and geeseWe wandered up to the look out. From here you can see across the island from south to north. I am on the eastern hill. To the west, in the distance, is West Hill, the highest point on the island, and between the two hills is the main cultivated area, with the houses and farms. (You can just see the sea on the far right of the photo.)

04 south to northZooming in, to the south you can see more gun emplacements and a lookout post. These were vital in protecting Lyness, on Hoy beyond, which was the main base for the British Fleet in the North Atlantic.

05 Balaclava bayMoving north is Manse Bay, with the old Manse to the right of the photo. Sheep tend to winter out up here, but most of the cattle come in, to save the ground from being churned up.

06 south and turbineNorth again, and the kirk is the large building towards the right. On the far right is Burnside, the group of houses where I live, and the community hall.

07 Kirk and turbineSwinging further round to the east of north, is the lochan that was dug out to hold water in WWII. It is iced over here. My ‘new’ car is on the far left of the photo, mid way up. Being green it hardly shows.

08 towards KirkwallFinally, a closer view of one of the brick chimneys on Stanger Head. These are all that is left of the officers quarters in the barracks. The men had iron stoves in their huts, but the officers had a proper fire!

09 turbine and chimney

9 thoughts on “Flotta in January

  1. Lovely photos. We were only there for a week last February, it was quite windy then, but certainly not as bad as you have described here. It’s such a beautiful island.

  2. Wonderful photos Liz. It was interesting to read about “Shepard’s Warning” as I’m familiar with the saying “Red skies at night sailor’s delight, red skies in morning, sailor’s take warning”.

  3. The weather is not kind in that part of the world – wish I could send you some of our heat!
    But, it is still a magnificent place !

  4. I always love your pictures and commentary. It has been windy and cold here in Virginia in the US. The wind chills have been down to 10F, which really feels cold to me! Keep Warm.

  5. I love your blog. It takes me to such a different world. It’s so nice to see a gorgeous sunrise… I so prefer them to sunsets. Thanks again 🙂

  6. Love seeing your photos. I visited Hoy 30 years ago with a boyfriend whose father and brothers had emigrated from there to various places around the world. He still had some cousins living in the big farmhouse in the center of the island. I remember being odffered a glass of whiskey at 10 in the morning when we arrived. As my boyfreind said, “Any excuse will do!”

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