Lynda at the Houton Bay Lodge was incredibly helpful and persistent in phoning every possibility she could think of for somewhere for us to stay for the next two nights. We had our tent with us in case of difficulty with accommodation but it was too cold for this to be an attractive alternative. Lynda eventually came up with the Ferry Inn at Stromness, not far away so we had plenty of time to visit some of Orkney’s renowned neolithic sites. It was 10:30 before we left, and the sun was out before we reached Maes Howe burial chamber for a guided tour. The guide was a very knowledgeable deaf lady who related the history of the site and pointed out some Viking runes, even graffiti can be interesting if it’s old enough.
After lunch on a bench by the visitor centre, we carried on to the standing stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar and then to Skara Brae. Here there was a visitor centre with a great cafe, we’d have had lunch here had we known about it beforehand but didn’t miss the opportunity for coffee and some lovely cake. The neolithic village really is amazing with its linked houses with stone beds and even stone dressers to put ornaments, not far removed from the Flintstones! The village was buried by sand dunes thousands of years ago, preserving it from looters and the elements. Skara Brae is close by Skaill House, nothing like as old but well worth a visit.
From here we rode on to Stromness and checked in to the Ferry Inn. The accommodation was behind the pub and they had a locked shed to accommodate our bikes. We ate there in the evening, and I was very pleased to find Orkney Dark Island on tap, one of my favourite beers. After dinner we walked around this fascinating little harbour town with most of the buildings in the main street sporting a blue plaque relating their historic links, the town being closely associated with the Hudson Bay Company.