Night 28/2018 staying in my caravan. Now at the Pickaquoy Campsite in Kirkwall, Orkney. I had prepayed, and for 5 nights it is a reasonable £66.75.

Woke in Brora around 0600 to a lovely bright, warm morning. Took the dogs a walk on the beach, had some breakfast and left the site for a leisurely drive up to Gills Bay to catch the ferry to St Margaret's Hope on South Ronaldsay.

Arrived very early (around 1200) so took the dogs a walk around the nearby bay. Very industrial, as is the whole port. There's no luxuries here! A small reception building with a cafe was open, and I queued up in line.

Now, this part of the trip could make or break my Orkney experience! I had read online of the possibility of having to reverse down the ramp, and the prospect of doing that with my short van was not something I relished. The issue is that it's not a ro-ro ferry, there's only one big door at the stern.

I waited in line, then the loader asked me on first. Because my van was so small, they guided me under the superstructure, turned, and parked where I would eventually exit. Result!

 I did watch one other caravan, which did have to reverse. The driver opted to let a crew member do it, and he made a good job of getting it onboard.

It seemed fairly packed to me, and we were underway just before 1330. The first stretch is where a number of tides collide, and although it's a catamaran, it still rolled in the swell, but fairly comfortable.

The first island we passed, on it's west, was Stroma. Big cliffs one one side and a lot of abandoned buildings.

The next island was Swona, then the ferry headed into Scapa Flow. From the deck, you can see through into the bridge.

I got chatting with a local of Orkney who was on his way home, and he pointed out many of the landmarks. He showed me where the submarine nets and associated buildings were, the Flotta Oil Terminal, where the wreck of HMS Royal Oak lay, and where the Churchill Barriers were. Very interesting man who was very interested in my trip. Scapa Flow is so huge, but still enclosed that sailors 'sneaking in' in U Boats must have been off their trolleys!

The ferry arrived after around an hour at sea, and I set off for Kirkwall. I certainly wasn't prepared for the first sights as I rounded the first few bends and headed over a Churchill Barrier. The sight of the wrecked 'Block Ships' was a real surprise. I don't know what I expected, but to see those massive hulks half submerged next to the barriers was somewhere between amazement and fear (?). Something I've never experienced before. I didn't get any pictures as I had already passed the best stopping spot, but I'll certainly be hoping for some over the next few days.

Parked up in the site. It's next to the Pickaquoy Centre, and although quite 'urban', it's got everything I need. There's a Tesco, Co-op, and Lidl within 100m of here.

Took the dogs on an urban walk tonight through Kirkwall. What a stunning little town. My brother had described Stromness as having very narrow main streets. Must be an Orkney thing.

Some quirky houses.

And cars...

Lovely Cathedral and Bishops Palace.

Kirkwall Harbour, the part that obviously doesn't take the cruise liners.


  1. I hope you told the Orkney man to check out your blog!!


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