Stromness and Orphir

Plaque in Stromness
Plaque in Stromness

Stromness is Orkney’s second largest town – its narrow main street hugs the shore with even narrower alleys running off it. It’s an important fishing port, and has been for centuries – though hopefully today’s sailors won’t need the ministrations of Mrs Humphrey as described in the plaque above!

We stayed in Stromness 19 years ago – on this visit, we just popped in a couple of times for lunch and a wander.

It’s a short drive inland back to Kirkwall – but it’s much prettier to follow the south coast and stop off at a few picturesque spots.

Earl's Bu, Orphir
Earl’s Bu, Orphir

Orphir is home to a small museum about the Orkneyinga Saga , a bloodthirsty Viking tale from around 1200 AD. Next to it, you can see the remains of the Earl’s Bu (drinking hall) and the round church which both feature in the stories.

From here, we did a circular walk along the coast and back through farmland, then stopped off at Waukmill Bay and RSPB Hobbister on or way home to Kirkwall. Plenty of opportunities for John to practice his bird-in-flight photography!

We’ve not seen John’s head popping out of a tomb for a while. I’ll rectify that next time.


27 thoughts on “Stromness and Orphir

  1. Jessica (Diverting Journeys) September 24, 2015 / 11:07

    Well I certainly like the look of that plaque! I’m fascinated by polar/ maritime expeditions gone wrong, so I’d be interested to learn more about this Mrs. Humphrey!


    • Anabel Marsh September 24, 2015 / 11:29

      That was all it told you I’m afraid – intriguing, I agree!


  2. Pit September 24, 2015 / 13:41

    Things are so lush and green over there: I’m envious!
    Have a wonderful day,


    • Anabel Marsh September 24, 2015 / 13:42

      No shortage of rain, Pit! That’s what does it…….


  3. Lori L MacLaughlin September 24, 2015 / 15:43

    Just catching up again. I love looking at your photos. The standing stones in the Ness of Brodgar post are amazing. And I enjoyed reading your interview. I prefer small hotels and B&Bs, too. We stayed at a lot of B&Bs when we traveled in Great Britain years ago. We rented a car and drove on the “wrong side of the road” all over the place. It was quite the experience.


    • Anabel Marsh September 24, 2015 / 15:51

      Thanks Lori. Nice to catch up with you again. I hate driving “on the wrong side of the road” which is just about everywhere else in the world for us!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Birgit September 24, 2015 / 20:31

    I love that plaque! I know weird but it really speaks of the history. The town is so quaint and lovely-I would love to just walk around there-I love small towns like this.


    • Anabel Marsh September 24, 2015 / 20:54

      Yes, it’s lovely jut to wander around. We accidentally drove down the Main Street though – two way traffic and pedestrians in that narrow road! Not fun.


  5. Su Leslie September 24, 2015 / 21:03

    Lovely! That beach looks so inviting.


  6. restlessjo September 25, 2015 / 18:24

    So peaceful! All hiding from the wind? 🙂 Love the little round church.


  7. T Smithers September 26, 2015 / 04:14

    Hah! I love that plaque! Seeing these photos just adds to my “need” to get up to the Orkneys!


    • Anabel Marsh September 26, 2015 / 08:32

      Sure you’d love it in Orkney (and Shetland). No mountains to climb, but beautiful coastal walks.


  8. clicksclan September 27, 2015 / 14:32

    I’d like to venture up that way some time. I love those little winding streets and the Vikings fascinate me so it would be interesting to visit the ruins.


  9. Sarah Ferguson September 28, 2015 / 05:22

    Things you don’t hear about often here in the middle of the U.S.: scurvy issues.

    And also, the world needs more drinking halls.


  10. jazzfeathers October 1, 2015 / 21:36

    Beautiful photos.
    I love Stromness, looks like such a picturesque place. Love those narrow streets 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh October 2, 2015 / 08:07

      It is definitely picturesque. I was a bit alarmed when we drove along one – further south, any streets that narrow would have been pedestrianised a long time ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Donna October 2, 2015 / 04:12

    At first reading of the plaque, I thought the men were individually trapped in ice and wondered how on earth they survived. Then I came to my senses and realized that they were on a boat trapped by ice and got scurvy from lack of fresh food! Looks like a wonderful place to visit!


    • Anabel Marsh October 2, 2015 / 07:46

      Ha, hadn’t thought of it that way! Maybe because I recently read a novel which included a Russian boat trapped in the Arctic ice. That bit was quite scary actually…..

      Liked by 1 person

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