Day 7 |
Jun 05, 2012

Stromness, Orkney Islands 

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 58°57´N, 03°17´W
Weather: cloudy

Air Temperature: 9°C
Sea Temperature:

This morning was a beautiful half-day at sea, with the Silver Explorer slowly gliding through the waves of the North Sea making her way towards our next destination, Stromness, on the Orkney Islands.

Around half past 9 am we passed the “Old Man of Hoy” an amazing geological feature on the north western side of the island of Hoy. It is due to the particular type of sandstone – massive and hard and the mode of weathering – that resulted in the fantastic precipices on the west coast of the isle.

After that short deviation, the morning program continued with the lecture of my colleague Stefan talking about plate tectonics, a theory, which explains the movement of continents through time. The next program point was the lecture from Toby Musgrave titled “The Story of the British Garden.” The presentation highlighted the most important steps of gardening beginning with the ancient Egyptians and ending with the post-modern Masterpieces of Gardening.

At 12 o´clock the Silver Explorer arrived in the port of Stromness, and after a delicious buffet in the Restaurant, the members of the Expedition Team were ready and on the pier waiting for the guests to go on tour. Today the tour went to the “Ancient Treasures of Orkneys”. The destination of this tour is a designated World Heritage Site due to the fact of its wealth of pre-historic archeology.

The first stop was at the Ring of Brodgar, a huge ceremonial circle of stones dating from about 2700 BC. After some introduction by our local guide, our guests had their free time and could walk on their own between the impressive stone arrangements. The weather also contributed with the clouds in the sky displaying a wonderful play of lights and shade at this mystical site.

From the Neolithic stone ring the bus took us to the nearby 5000-year-old excavated village of Skara Brae. Again an excellent introduction of the history of the discovery of this site as well as an overview of life in that time from our local guide gave our guests a good impression of the importance of this archeological jewel. As at the first stop, guests were allowed to walk around on their own looking mainly down into the different houses all made of stone. You actually could step into some of them, and get an idea how living really was at that time.

A short walking distance away from Skara Brae was our next and last visiting point of today´s excursion: the Skail House. An old Orkney manor house built in 1620 on top of an ancient graveyard. Back on the pier guests still had time, as the Silver Explorer sailed at 8.30 pm, to explore the little town of Stromness on their own. Later in the evening the Expedition leader Robin West gave a briefing to our guests about tomorrow and my colleagues Stefan, Toby and Luqui held a recap. Sailing away from Stromness and the Orkneys, with their rich Neolithic history, guests enjoyed the Diamond Jubilee Dinner in the Restaurant.