Saturday, 7 July 2012

Day 7: John O'Groats to Orkney

Distance: 17 miles
Total distance so far: 399 miles

Having made it to John O'Groats, we have 2 days before the main leg of the trip sets off south for Land's End. We have decided to visit the Orkney Islands, firstly, because we're not coming back this far north any time soon, secondly, because we hear they're pretty, and thirdly, because they happened to be the closest place with Sunday Mass. We took a ferry from Gill's Bay to St Margaret's Hope, leaving Adrian on the shore to make his way to Thurso, where he will start his train journey home. Bye Dad!!
We arrived to a windy, wet Orkney, where a dutchman on a bike (there seem to be loads of them around this way) took our photo for us.
Orkney has some pretty good wildlife, we were told. Straight off the ferry, we saw some enormous brown seagulls eating a dead seal. We love nature.

We followed the road to Kirkwall, where we will be staying. We cycled along Churchill's causeways, so called because they were built as a defence against German submarines in WW2. Next to the causeway was the Reginald, a sunk battleship:
Reginald: back left. Tom: front right.
The history lesson continued: a few miles up the road (and a few islands later, this is Orkney, after all...) we came across the Italian Chapel. This was built by Italian prisoners of war, and inside, it has the same roof structure as a bunker, but has been decorated beautifully as a very ornate chapel. The walls are painted to look like bricks and pillars, and the stained glass windows, also made by the POWs, were beautiful. This is what one prisoner said about building the chapel:
Beautiful, we thought.

Here is the outside of the chapel, overlooking the sea:

Sorry we've no pictures of the inside, as the camera ran out of battery.

Here is Domenico Chiocchetti, the prisoner who oversaw the building of the chapel, and stayed behind to complete it after the others returned to Skipton in Yorkshire for repatriation. He returned several times over the years with his wife, also in the picture. You can see some of the chapel interior here.

So, now in Kirkwall. We had jacket potatoes for lunch, with carrot cake. It was great. And there's lots to see here, and hopefully, lots of sleeping to be done.

So, we'll leave it there, and wave you all goodbye, till Monday, when we set off again!
Pun intended.

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