Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Sheep under a red tin roof

Sheep outlook_

 

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_19

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, and August, I’m so,so tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

A sheep, being rather photogenically framed in  the window of a derelict croft

sheep red tin right

No, hang on, not one, but two sheep

Sheep red tin left

I had a lot of fun trying to capture a photo of them both looking out together.  They reminded me of a barometer my gran had in her home back in the 60’s it was a ‘souvenir of Switzerland’, holiday knick-knack kind of thing. A lady came out of a little door if the sun was going to shine and man came out of a different door if it was going to rain.

But they were having none of it, they were wise enough not to try and second guess the Scottish weather, they wandered off, following, well, like sheep.

Sheep red tin left leaving_

I do need to put the location of croft into perspective though. It’s at Drumbeg,  what a stunning place.  Look you can see it on street view

red tin croft_


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Tomb of the Eagles

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney landscape_

 

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_16

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, and August, I’m so,so tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

Tomb of the Eagles, (or less dramatically, Isbister Chambered Cairn)  was on our ‘must do’ list for our visit to Orkney, having watched a TV documentary about its  archaeological importance.  The visit starts at the visitor centre (not surprisingly) and  what I liked about this, was how you are allowed to handle some of the exhibits, to hold a five thousand year old Stone age axe in your hand and feel its balance, is quite something, something that you can never get a handle on from seeing it exhibited in a glass cabinet. 

After our tour of the centre, the tomb is accessed by a  mile long walk along a track, passing as you go, another significant bit of archaeology  a Bronze age mound of burnt stone, a modest 3,000 years old

Burnt Mound Orkney_

Mr Uphilldowndale was a little puzzled that I seemed more interested in photographing the plants than ancient relics, I pointed out that this plant, and I don’t know what it is, looked as thought it might have been hanging out here since the dinosaurs roamed the earth.

spiky plant Orkney

It was late when we arrived at the tomb, the visitor centre had closed behind us, and we were free to take a look inside the tomb at our leisure, in a kind of ‘let yourself in, the doors on the latch’ way (lovely bit of drystone walling here).

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney entrance 2

In reality you enter the tomb, on a little bogie cart, 

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney entrance_

My photos in the tomb, don’t do it justice, I’ll admit, being on the slightly claustrophobic spectrum, I happier outside than in, so I didn’t hang around for long.  As last visitors of the day, I didn’t fancy being entombed for the night. The tomb is divided into stalls, by stone orthostats (love that word, hard to drop into conversation though) the remains of the sea eagles and 341 humans have long since been removed to safety.

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney 2

It was cool, dark and had an unusual earthy kind of smell,  but what did I expect of a tomb

Mr Uphilldowndale kindly demonstrated the technique for entry and exit

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney 4

The return walk, takes you along the edge of the  South Ronaldsay cliffs, where there were beautiful flowers

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney Squill 2

as blue as the surrounding sea

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney sea

in places the flowers were named with tags, a lovely touch,  by the Simison family, a family (dad, discovered the tomb, fifty years ago) that values the sharing of information about this special place. The plastic tags did seem a little incongruous to me though, maybe wood or even written on stone would have been more fitting, you know I fret about plastic and the sea.

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney Squill

By the time we returned to the van, it was just us and the rabbits, and maybe, soaring on the wind, the spirits of the eagles, looking for a tasty rabbit,

Rabbit Orkney_


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Summer Sheep.

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_15

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

On a warm day, its  good to get your coat off…

IMG_9878


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Saddle Up

TWT-30-Days-Wild_countdown_14_thumb

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

Mr Uphilldowndale took his bike with him on our grand tour.  It was good for him to get out for a ride every now and then, a bit like Spud the dog, he needs to stretch his legs.

We opened the blinds one morning, to a sight designed to lure the  sleepy cyclist from his bed

Bike view

We got into a bit of a routine, he’d set off on his bike and I’d follow along a little later to meet up at a prearranged point.  Leaving me with time to potter about with the camera, win,win.

Orkney Orchid

Everybody happy, well except Spud


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Sanday

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_13

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

We took a ferry from Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney, to the island of Sanday, its a short hop of 90 minutes, just how I like my ferry crossings.

Ferry sanday

Sanday is a low lying island, of wide, white, curving beaches, very beautiful.  The weather was kind when we were there, but you can imagine how wild it can get, it must feel like the gales  and tides are gnawing at the land at times. 

Sanday beach

The wind sculpts the dunes, a derelict building, is being subsumed

Sanday building_

Looking at this, it’s not difficult to imagine how Skara brae disappeared under the dunes

Sanday building 2

As we  walked along the beach,  a curious selkie  swam along with us, close into the shore, we were warned not to let Spud the dog into the sea, for fear of him being taken as  a play thing. Spud much prefers pond water to sea water.

Seal watching_

 

Start point light house, with its distinctive vertical stripes,  which are unique to Scotland ( gives it a bit of an Everton mint vibe, do you not think?)

Sanday lighthouse_

The day ended with a sunset befitting such a lovely place

Sanday sunset


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Heavyweight

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_12

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

I do like a nice stone roof slate, they are part of the vernacular style of old houses in north Derbyshire,  the island on Sandy  however takes the size of their roof slates to the max! Can you imagine manhandling these beasts into place?  Seven slates for the whole roof?

stone slate Orkney 

Here a mixture of sizes of stone slates on the house and corrugated iron on the adjoining barn roof

Orkney stone slate roof

Lichen have turned these slates orange.

stone slate Orkney shed

The window looks so fragile against the stone, as does the starling perched on the ridge.


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Marine Plastic.

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_11

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

It saddens my heart, to find plastic on the beach.  I pick it up when ever I can, as do others (it looks like  their are some very useful bits and bobs in here, reduce, reuse, recycle).

Boat marine waste

It seems a sad fact of life that it seems the more remote the beach, the more plastic washes up

Will plastics be the archaeology of the future?  Here bailer twine is being consumed by dunes.

Dunes bailer twine Orkney

I was pleased to see both on Orkney and in the highlands of Scotland efforts to remove plastic (and other debris) from the beach.

Marine plastic Lopness_

It seems ironic to have to use plastic bags to collect the rubbish in, maybe we could knit string bags from the bailer twine, not much use though, for the smaller pieces of plastic (although,hopefully micro beads of plastic from cosmetics will become a thing (or legacy) of the past)

There was a community feel to many of the beach cleaning initiatives.  Like this one

Marine plastic bin_ 

They even have a grabber thing,  to use if you don’t fancy collecting by hand. And not only a dog poo bin, but a poo bag dispenser!

Beach clean_

All this was at the beautiful Balnakeil beach

Beautiful beach Balnakeil_

Apart from the feel good factor of taking plastic from the ocean, for more careful recycling, there can be other unforeseen perks. I was dragging a large piece of plastic net off the beach above, when I was approached by a man (no photo here, you’ll just have to use your imagination) in his early thirties, he was running along the beach with his husky hound dog, of very athletic build and wearing naught but lycra Jammer swim shorts and a sprinkling of Polynesian style tattoos, he stopped and in a very strong French accent thanked me for ‘helping keep the oceans of the world beautiful’.

Don’t worry girls their is plenty more plastic on the beach…