Category Archives: Vacation

Westray, Orkney: Noup Head

Noup Head Lighthouse by Karen Gadient, 2016

Noup Head is a dramatic and simply-beyond-stunning coastal area to hike, explore, and birdwatch. It’s worth the extra ferry to Westray from Kirkwall if you ever happen to be in Orkney.

According to the Northern Lighthouse Board, the name noup is derived from gnupr, meaning ‘headland locality’.

Noup Head Birds by David Gadient, 2016

Noup Cliffs is the nesting home to thousands of birds: gannets, guillemots, kittiwakes, puffins, and other seabirds. It can be a bit of a challenge to snap photos of the birds unless you have the right camera gear―especially if you happen to be fearful of heights (I admit, I was nervous at the edge).

Noup Head Lighthouse by David Gadient, 2016

Noup Head Lighthouse is impressively seated above the sea cliffs. It’s automated now―solar, as you can see by the panels―but is well over a century old.

Noup Head by Karen Gadient, 2016

June was a lovely time to visit the area; the birds were in great numbers and the cliff tops were decked out in wildflowers.

Noup Head by David Gadient, 2016

It’s truly one my favorite views now that I’ve seen it for myself, and a place I hope to return to again soon.

Well, that’s it for the photos from our Scotland trip. For this trip to Scotland, at least―we’re already planning a trip back, although it won’t be right away. Next time, we’ll tackle the western coast on our travel northward.

Hope you’ve enjoyed our photos (most were taken by my husband David) and my ramblings! If you missed any part… here are links to previous related posts:

Our First Day in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Our Day in Edinburgh
Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay
On a Ferry to Orkney
Orkney Wanderings
St Magnus Cathedral
Skara Brae
Standing Stones in Orkney
Westray, Orkney: Part 1
Westray, Orkney: Noltland Castle
Westray, Orkney: Lady Kirk, Pierowall

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Filed under Holiday, Journal, Landscape, Life, Nature, Ocean, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Sea, Seascape, Travel, Vacation

Westray, Orkney: Lady Kirk, Pierowall

Lady Kirk 1 by David Gadient, 2016

Pierowall’s Lady Kirk is the shoreside ruin of a 17th century church built on the foundations of a 13th century church.

An impressive aerial view and other details can be seen here:
Westray, Pierowall, Lady Kirk: ScotlandsPlaces

In the far back of some of these photos, you may see a clear case protecting something from the elements; within it are several gravestones dating back to 1657. Sadly, we don’t have a good shot of those to share, but there are photos of them―pre-case―at the ScotlandsPlaces site too.

Lady Kirk 4 by David Gadient, 2016

Lady Kirk 2 by David Gadient, 2016

Lady Kirk 5 by David Gadient, 2016

Lady Kirk 3 by David Gadient, 2016

Lady Kirk is a beautiful place, resting near the green grass and blue sea.

Lady Kirk 6 by David Gadient, 2016

Another pair of David’s photos (he’s the one who’s taken most of the photos for these Scotland posts). I particularly like the through-the-window one.

One more set of photos from Westray soon!

Links to previous related posts:

Our First Day in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Our Day in Edinburgh
Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay
On a Ferry to Orkney
Orkney Wanderings
St Magnus Cathedral
Skara Brae
Standing Stones in Orkney
Westray, Orkney: Part 1
Westray, Orkney: Noltland Castle

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Filed under History, Holiday, Journal, Landscape, Life, Orkney, Photography, Religion, Scotland, Travel, Vacation

Westray, Orkney: Noltland Castle

Noltland Castle Approach by David Gadient, 2016

While in Westray, David took some photos during our visit to Noltland Castle, the castle built by Gilbert Balfour back in the 16th century. On approach, it seems like an possibly-welcoming Scottish tower house… but then you discover it’s speckled with dozens of gun-holes, has a massively thick wall, and is pretty much a fortress. Now in ruins, it’s welcoming enough and open to all guests.

For the intriguing tale behind Noltland Castle, click here. We were lucky to get the background told to us by Graham of Westraak as we explored the property.

Noltland Castle Exterior by David Gadient, 2016

Quite a few gun-holes, aye. Every approach to the castle is covered. 71 gun-holes, supposedly―more than any other Scottish castle.

Noltland Castle Walls by David Gadient, 2016

The upper level is a hall that remains unfinished. The stonework is fascinating and the color of the stone is quite lovely with bits of yellow and green.

Noltland Castle Interior by David Gadient, 2016

Noltland Castle Interior View by David Gadient, 2016

There are bars to keep you from falling as you wander the castle.

Noltland Castle Newl by David Gadient, 2016

The newel post that greets you at the top of the staircase.

Noltland Castle Courtyard by David Gadient, 2016

The courtyard is a relaxing place, especially on a clear day.

I’ll share more photos from Westray soon!

Links to previous related posts:

Our First Day in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Our Day in Edinburgh
Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay
On a Ferry to Orkney
Orkney Wanderings
St Magnus Cathedral
Skara Brae
Standing Stones in Orkney
Westray, Orkney: Part 1

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Filed under History, Holiday, Journal, Life, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel, Vacation

Westray, Orkney: Part 1

Westray Coast by David Gadient, 2016

We took the ferry to Westray a few days into our time in Orkney. With Graham of Westraak as our local guide, we had an amazing tour of most of the island.

I’ll be making a few separate posts about different areas of Westray, but these are the some miscellaneous ones that David took that I still wanted to share.

Westray Birds by David Gadient, 2016

While at the Aikerness Craigs, David caught quite a few shots of birds. This one is my favorite; they look very cozy on the rocks.

Aikerness by David Gadient, 2016

The Aikerness Craigs. Gorgeous and rocky coastal area. While here, Graham told us the story of Archie Angel, the lone survivor―an infant―of a shipwreck back in the 18th century. The wrecked ship had the word Archangel on it and that’s how the boy got his name. He grew up on Westray and the surname of Angel was found there until the early 20th century.

Westray Airport by David Gadient, 2016

The Westray Airport is home to the shortest scheduled passenger flight in the world, which takes you to Papa Westray (Papay) and is about a two minute flight―or shorter. While we didn’t take the flight, Graham drove David and I over to watch the plane leave and return. We’re usually not fans of tiny planes, but we’ll likely give it a try on our next trip there. Graham also showed us where we could take a boat if we decide just can’t stomach the plane. 🙂

Westray Homes by David Gadient, 2016

A photo of a traditional style of house you might see in Westray.

Westray Sheep by David Gadient, 2016

And a shot of some grazing sheep. Baa.

Westray Grobust Beach by David Gadient, 2016

Grobust Beach. Just a lovely place. While there, we also got a bit of an off-season (read: mostly covered) glimpse of the archaeological dig of the Links of Noltland.

Westray Cruise by David Gadient, 2016

On the ferry back, we got to see a massive cruise liner go by. Pretty sure it was a Disney one. While in Kirkwall, we’d seen a liner in port, but I’m not sure whether it was the same one or a different one.

I’ll share many more photos from Westray soon!

Links to previous related posts:

Our First Day in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Our Day in Edinburgh
Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay
On a Ferry to Orkney
Orkney Wanderings
St Magnus Cathedral
Skara Brae
Standing Stones in Orkney

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Filed under Family, Holiday, Journal, Landscape, Life, Nature, Ocean, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Sea, Travel, Vacation

Standing Stones in Orkney

Ring of Brodgar by David Gadient, 2016

While we have many impressive stones and rocks here in Arizona, I’d never seen anything like the ancient standing stones in the United Kingdom. In fact, I admit I didn’t know much about them until we visited the sites in Orkney.

The Ring of Brodgar is the largest stone circle in Scotland. It’s thought to have once had sixty stones, but now has less than thirty standing (although it appears there are a number of partial stones still in position). They stand out in the landscape; I believe one or two were once struck by lightning. The stones very in height, but the tallest is about fifteen feet.

Ring of Brodgar by David Gadient, 2016

Ring of Brodgar by David Gadient, 2016

One of the stones is off on its own a few hundred feet from the others, and it caught David’s eye before I noticed it. We hiked out to take a look, and I found out later that it’s called the Comet Stone.

Comet Stone by David Gadient, 2016

Lichen is also one of those things I’d never noticed here in Arizona―although it appears that ASU has a lichen herbarium, go figure―but lichen was all over the place in Scotland, as well as on the stones in the Ring of Brodgar.

Lichen by David Gadient, 2016

About a mile from the Ring of Brodgar are the Standing Stones of Stenness, which are much taller but fewer in number.

Standing Stones of Stenness by David Gadient, 2016

Standing Stones of Stenness by Karen Gadient, 2016

There is such a feeling of mystery and history at these sites. I hear Stonehenge is impressive too, but I don’t believe you can touch the stones. Here in Orkney, you can quite nearly touch time. During the windy day we went, we had missed the tourist crowd and had little company beyond the stones; it really was wonderful.

You can see from the photos that the weather shifted around a bit in the few hours that we walked amongst the stones. However, it never rained while we were in Orkney, nor during the previous week when we were in Glasgow and Edinburgh. In fact, we only got rain on the drive to the airport as we headed home―which was nice, since we get so little rain in Phoenix.

I’ll share more photos from Orkney soon!

Links to previous related posts:

Our First Day in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Our Day in Edinburgh
Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay
On a Ferry to Orkney
Orkney Wanderings
St Magnus Cathedral
Skara Brae

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Filed under History, Holiday, Landscape, Life, Nature, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel, Vacation

Skara Brae

Skara Brae 7 by David Gadient, 2016

As we’ve been out of town, it’s taken a while to post more photos from our time in Orkney. But here are some from our visit to the Neolithic village of Skara Brae, which is on the Bay of Skaill, west of Kirkwall.

Uncovered by a storm in 1850, Skara Brae gives a remarkable picture of life 5,000 years ago. The site is older than Stonehenge, and has been called the “Scottish Pompeii” because of its excellent preservation.

Right next to the shoreline―some of the village has already been lost to the sea―there are eight stone houses, clustered together and connected by stone paths. Researchers believe it was home to 50 to 100 people.

Skara Brae 1 by David Gadient, 2016

Skara Brae 5 by David Gadient, 2016

Skara Brae 3 by David Gadient, 2016

Skara Brae 4 by David Gadient, 2016

Skara Brae 2 by David Gadient, 2016

Skara Brae 6 by David Gadient, 2016

Skara Brae 8 by David Gadient, 2016

If you visit Orkney, Skara Brae is truly a place not to be missed.

I’ll share more photos from Orkney soon!

Links to previous related posts:

Our First Day in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Our Day in Edinburgh
Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay
On a Ferry to Orkney
Orkney Wanderings
St Magnus Cathedral

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Filed under History, Holiday, Journal, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel, Vacation

St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall

St Magnus by David Gadient, 2016

St Magnus Cathedral is a magnificent red and yellow sandstone cathedral in the heart of Kirkwall (the largest town in Orkney, and the capital). Both the cathedral and the grounds are a beautiful place to explore and think. It’s the most northerly cathedral in the British Isles―and well worth the trip to see it.

Weeping Window by David Gadient, 2016

We were fortunate to arrive in Orkney while the Poppies: Weeping Window installation―to mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland―was still in Kirkwall.

Poppies by David Gadient, 2016

Poppies Close by David Gadient, 2016

David also took some lovely photos while we walked around the churchyard.

St Magnus Plants by David Gadient, 2016

St Magnus Door by David Gadient, 2016

St Magnus 2 by David Gadient, 2016

More photos from other locations in Orkney soon!

Links to previous related posts:

Our First Day in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Our Day in Edinburgh
Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay
On a Ferry to Orkney
Orkney Wanderings

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Filed under Family, Holiday, Journal, Landscape, Life, Nature, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel, Vacation