Friday, 6 June 2014

Leg 5, Day 7,: Stromness to Kirkwall

We awoke to the sound of a man coughing so violently that I actually wondered if he was going to die. Fortunately he hadn't, because by the time we managed to drag ourselves out of our sleeping bags and over to the bakery for some breakfast he was still there, sitting on a bench outside the RNLI station minding his own business. This was a great relief, but did slightly eat into the lie-in that we had been forced to have by way of the fact that the ferry that takes us over to Hoy (another island in the Orkneys) did not depart until 10:00am. 


A few croissants later and we thanked the mechanic of Stromness RNLI Lifeboat station who together with other members of the crew, had been an excellent host the previous evening and set aboard a an Orkney Ferries boat, another ferry company who very kindly have given us free passage. 

Once we arrived at Hoy ferry terminal, which consisted of a caravan, three parked cars and a horse, we cycled 40km along the islands westerly coast to Longhope RNLI station. The terrain was undulating but more importantly it wasn't raining, in fact it was the warmest day of the year so far, which made for a vastly more enjoyable experience. We cruised along, chatting away and before we new it we had arrived. 

It is difficult to say, because our feelings of a place are so much governed by the weather but we both felt this was a really special place with a strong sense of community and a more productive economy. The houses were better kept, the ports were busy and it was more populated than we had imagined.

We had to backtrack on ourselves to get back to Lyness, the ferry terminal which would take us back to the mainland (still in the Orkneys). We happened to miss the 12:30 ferry by a matter of seconds, which had departed 2 mins early but the initial frustration quickly went away when we unpacked our lunch and sat on the pier with 1hr30mins to kill in the sunshine- not exactly awful!

Once back on the mainland we had an equally relaxed undulating cycle over to Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkneys where a third RNLI station is based and is where we are staying the night. 

All in all it was a 67km day and given the last week of punishing cycles this was a welcome 'rest day'.

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