St Magnus Cathedral – Kirkwall Orkney, Scotland

Iceland Cruise March 2018 – Continuing with our visit to Kirkwall, Orkney, we visited St Magnus Cathedral, where the door was open wide for all to enter.  Luckily there were only a few visitors, so I could take quite a few people free photos.  The building, to me, looks pink, a lovely rose pink, the stonework is a patched up here and there, but you are looking at a structure, that the earliest stages of building would have been in 1137.  Only fragments of the building that was based on Durham Cathedral remain, the walls, ceiling and pillars would have would have originally been plastered and painted with colourful floral patterns.  

By 1152 the choir and three pillars of the nave had been built, by the mid 12th century the apse was also in existence at the east end of the Cathedral  behind the high alter.  Many years later a gasket containing the bones of St Magnus was discovered in this area. Over the years the Cathedral has been restored, with the white washed walls, which happen during the Reformation, removed, and the lovely warm red sandstone was then revealed. Stained glass windows, replaced formally plain ones.  But in the 1960’s it became clear the the whole building was in serious danger of subsiding.  Sinking foundations meant that the nave was gradually leaning westward and the gable was endanger of collapsing into the street.  An appeal committee raised £300,000 and in 1974 restoration works were carried out with metal support girders, which are concealed by the nave and clerestory and the building was saved.  More restoration work has since been carried out, and wherever possible the red sandstone is retained.

St Magnus is a building that requires lots of exploring, I really only had about 30 minutes, but I think I have caught some of that lovely red sandstone.  I loved the carved pew ends, they are not medieval, but come from one of the more recent restorations.  The headstones on the walls, are so interesting, they once covered burials in the nave.  The stones contain many reminders of death, skulls, crossbones and hourglasses.  I did miss a few things, so this post will have to suffice, until I can returned to photograph the rest.


West Pier Lighthouse 1854, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland

Iceland cruise March 2018 – When we were exploring Kirkwall, the chief town of Orkney, I found this small lighthouse down in the harbour.  The light was built in 1854, but creased working in 1994.  There is a new modern light, that has taken its place, but it nice to know the old one was kept, as it makes a nice focal point to the harbour.  Another one for the ‘Lighthouse Category’



Scapa Whisky Distillery, Orkney, Scotland



Iceland Cruise March 2018 – When we arrived on Orkney, one part of our coach trip was to see a whisky distillery, Scapa Whisky.  The weather was overcast and cold, also the windows of the coach were tinted and not that clean, so the photos I took out of the window were a bit hit and miss.  The tour was interesting and you got a wee dram and the glass to keep at the end of the tour, which pleased husband, and he was also pleased to add a new one to our ‘Whisky Distillery Category’

A little history……….Scapa has long been known as the ‘other distillery’ on Orkney, overshadowed in both reputation and popularity by the neighbouring Highland Park. This is hardly surprising, given Scapa’s relatively small annual capacity of just under 1 million litres. In recent years however, Scapa has enjoyed increasing popularity as a single malt.

The distillery was originally founded in 1885 by Macfarlane and Townsend, near the town of Kirkwall at the head of Scapa Bay. This location was significant during both World Wars, when it was used as a naval base for the British fleet. Following WWII the distillery was taken over by Hiram Walker & Sons, and then existed in relative anonymity for years before being mothballed in 1994. However, from 1997 until 2004 a small team of staff from Highland Park used the Scapa facility to distil small amounts of whisky and keep the equipment in use.

In 2004, Scapa underwent an extensive refurbishment worth over £2million and full-time production re-commenced. Ownership of the distillery transferred to Pernod Ricard in 2005, and they have helped to raise the profile of the Scapa brand considerably since then. Shortly after this takeover the traditional 12 year old Scapa was replaced with a new 14 year old expression. This was subsequently replaced again with the current 16 year old expression in 2008.

Iceland Cruise 23 – A Walk Along Eshaness Cliffs, Shetland, Scotland

Iceland Cruise March 2018 – After our visit to the lighthouse on the edge of Eshaness Cliffs, we walked along the cliff edge, and thank goodness no one fell over, a few close calls, but everyone accounted for.  Although the sun was shining, it was very cold, but worth it for the wonderful views you see looking out over the sea stacks.  The walk started at the lighthouse, which is visible for miles and is perched on the rim of fabulous volcanic cliffs, which are made of cooled lava called basalt.  We, as a coach party, only walked a short way, but enough to make us want to come back and do some more of the walk.

Esha Ness Lighthouse 1929, Northmavine Peninsula, Shetlands, Scotland

One of the lighthouses that we saw on our Iceland Cruise of March 2018, was Esha Ness Lighthouse, also known as Eshaness.  Suitiuted on the Northmavine Peninsula in the northern part of Shetland’s Mainland Island, we were on a coach trip to see the lighthouse and a walk along the Eshaness Cliffs.  Luckily no one else seemed to be interested in the lighthouse, so I got quite a few people free photos.  We had chosen this tour as I wanted the Stevenson Lighthouse for my lighthouse category, and the location of this one is spectacular, with the weather being perfect.  The light was built in 1929 and was the last manned lighthouse designed by a Stevenson, this one by David A Stevenson.  I have added the information board, hopefully you can read it.  It was interesting to see a light that I really never thought I would visit, and it’s one more ticked of the list.  

Ellenabeich, Isle of Seil, Slate Islands, Scotland

Another beautiful day in Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria.  We managed to visit a beautiful castle and a couple of wonderful churches, which I will post about when we get home.  But as we will be going to Scotland shortly after we get home, I wanted to finish off a couple of Scottish posts from 2016, before this years visit.  

The above photo galley is Ellenabeich, which is a former slate mining village on the Isle of Seil, which is one of the Slate Islands, known as ‘the islands that roofed the world’.  Seil is separated from the mainland only by the thinnest of sea channels which is spanned by the elegant 18th century humpback Clachan Bridge, popularly known as the ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’.  

You can catch the small ferry from Ellenabeich, to the Island of Easdale and hopefully its something we will do on this years trip.

There is an interesting museum all about the islands and the slate industry, which was already well under way on Easdale Island itself by the mid 1500s, and more widely across the islands from 1745.  It continued at Ellenabeich until 1881 and on Easdale Island until 1911. A slate quarry at Balvicar was reopened in the late 1940s and operated sporadically for two decades more.

Also there is a lovely pub, and you may notice one of the photos of husband and our little dog Nancy, waiting for their lunch, with a wonderful view behind them.

May 2016

Neptune’s Staircase, Nr Fort William, Scotland

Neptune’s Staircase is in the small village of Banavie, four miles from Fort William, Scotland and is overlooked by the magnificent Ben Nevis.  We visited in 2016, and I have only just come across the photos from that date, we did visit again in 2107 and nothing had really changed, still an interesting  walk along the canal, watching the locks at work, in glorious surroundings. 

Built by Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822, it is the longest staircase lock in Britain and raises the canal by 19 metres (62ft) over a quarter of a mile continuous masonry.  It takes about 90 minutes for a boat to travel up or down the comprising eight locks on the Caledonian Canal.