I hesitate to tell you about my trip to Sanday. It was awful.
I don’t want to paint the island in a bad light, after all, it’s probably full of wonderful people and is great in the sunshine.
We went an a Sunday day-trip.
And it rained. And then it poured. And then we were soaking wet. And then we were cold. And then the pub was shut and there was no chance of chips.
So we went dripping into a cafe and I ordered a pot of tea for two. Two tiny mugs appeared and a small teapot. I poured the tea and it just about filled one mug three-quarters full.
Then we hung around in a graveyard and I found my name written in lichen.
I’d brought a map with me on my phone, just in case there was little signal. Number 27 on the map is the church, but hold on, there are three number 27s on the map, Cross Kirkyard, Lady Kirkyard and Burness Kirkyard. This must have been in one of them.
We cycled to our ultimate destination, Quoyness chambered tomb, when the middle of the pedal fell off my bike..
We crawled on our hands and knees into an Orkney tomb as old as the pyramids. The entrance passage is 9 metres long.
And then everything was worthwhile.
Quoyness Chambered Cairn is probably 5,000 years old and has six internal chambers and a pit in the central atrium. The intense feeling of standing in such a beautiful and atmospheric ancient building almost made me forget just how wet I was.
We made it back to the waiting room for the ferry, still soaked, to find there was only one small electric heater and it was being monopolised by the two cyclists who had just overtaken us on the final downhill stretch. After half an hour, they gave way and let us get close to the heater to steam gently, at which point a car drew up, a man cleaned the waiting room toilets with a bang and then left. It was at that point we noticed that he’d turned the electricity off to the heater. We stood there, cold and dripping for another half an hour before our ferry home arrived.
I hope to be back in better circumstances.