09 Aug A Warm Day In Orkney
You might be wondering, what’s the best thing to do on a warm day in Orkney? The days are few and far between, so when they do come, we dropped everything and ran to the beach.
So this is my perfect, warm weather day in Orkney, featuring my favourite beach and a relaxing evening.
Immediately, I knew it was going to be a warm day. The wind blew warm. During the day, people gathered outside, even though it was midweek. Strangely, the sky glowed an unfamiliar shade of blue and there were no clouds in the sky either.
It’s a miracle! It was the first sunny day in months. And I’m not exaggerating either. The sun shone like this on our wedding day, and that was nearly two months ago.
Although I monitored the weather forecast, it’s best for a sense of morale to avoid it altogether. As Sunday is the only day we have off together, I pin unusually high hopes to it. Unfortunately, the weather is a grim shade of grey. But today, the sky changed at the last minute. Despite having a shed load of commission work to do, we decided to head out for the afternoon and soaked up the vitamin d.
However, there are always a few top places on my mind when it comes to warm weather in Orkney. Firstly, St Margarets Hope. Sitting at Robertson’s Coffee House people watching with an iced coffee. Swiftly followed by a walk out to the Sands O’Wright, this is my favourite afternoon. Although it’s a trek over the hill to Hoxa dam, it’s worth spending a couple of hours on the lovely white beach. It’s sheltered from the wind and always quiet.
Although we were short on time, after sulking (on my part!) we headed to close second, Waulkmill Bay. Sitting closest to Kirkwall if you don’t count Scapa Bay, an expansive of beach sitting directly opposite the town.
We drove to Waulkmill Bay, which is reached by parking at the local bird reserve. Walking down to the bay, there are panoramic views of the sea which stretch over to Hoy. Coming down the hill, the beach sits snugly between two rolling hills, with an estuary cutting them in half. Emerging from the heather, it’s always surprising to be greeted by the expansive bay.
Coming down the hill to Waulkmill, the tide is often slack and low, and the water a perfect shade of Mediterranean blue. I joined the path, running parallel to the beach. Although exposed, the cliffs hiding clumps of poppies, rosehips and gorse. The overgrown hedgerows are rare in Orkney. And I relish the sight of their lush, heavy leaves in the wind and the sheltering birds.
Meanwhile, we wandered down the cliff, following the steps that lead down onto a spit. It separates the beach and the marshy estuary waters. Setting up camp with our picnic blanket (and no picnic!) and we enjoyed the unfamiliar feeling of being warm. Even Peggy, who is notoriously unsettled fell asleep on my lap, swiftly followed by Jack.
Forgetting my book (English Pastoral, by James Rebanks) I watched everyone else on the beach. Relaxing a little, I found myself thinking about work.
Meanwhile, whilst the other dogs run around on the beach, I reminded myself of our last picnic, which turned out very differently.
Whilst we were having tea and cake at Inganess, a small beach complete with boat wreckage, just in front of Kirkwall airport. After a walking Peggy, we set up camp. Suddenly, out of no where, we were flattened by someone else’s dog. As well as being totally alarmed, Peggy was caught off guard and started freaking out too. After that, our picnic was in the sand, whilst the dog continued harassing us, as the owner walked past oblivious.
However I’m still nervous around other dogs with Peggy! Although I admit, I cautiously check out who is on the beach and whether there are any loose dogs. So my people watching is entirely justified!
But I relaxed with Peggy safely out for the count, enjoying ice creams and a quiet beach. Later, wandering across the pools which the estuary and falling tide had left, we found they were still warm. During the day, the sea clawed its way across the ridged sand, slowly making it’s way out. Splashing around in the low tide, and Peggy walked cautiously in the shallows.
Later when we were home, Jack continued with his commission work, and I finished the jobs in the garden. Although the summer was slow, the plants suddenly came to life. I replanted the rosemary bushes and deadheaded the flowers. The stems didn’t survive the wind were put in a vase. Ramshackled and lovely, they were the first flowers I’d grown from seed.
Finally, working until late, I tidied up the jobs that had been left all week. I cleared the paths, rearranging the pots around the front door as I went. Working in my Dipwood Studio hat, I felt the part. And suddenly realising I was hungry, I headed inside for something to eat. These are the best sort of days.