A Travellerspoint blog

Puffin Watching

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On a puffin hunt, but first we stop by a castle/fort

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Maybe a few walls are missing

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But the design really lets the light in, you know?

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Inside it's a little dank, though

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Butler Chris, showing the way up to the banquet hall

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A young archer, preparing her shot

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The stonework on the stairs is pretty impressive

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Halt, stranger!

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All right, we're approaching puffin land

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They should be around here somewhere...

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Baby seabird

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And we found some puffins!

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Shh! Don't tell them I'm here.

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My puffin-watching perch

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Puffin habitat

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Having had our fill of puffins, we hike home

Posted by chschen 05:11 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Northward

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Goodbye, Stromness

* * *

This, too, shall end? I cannot help but think this transience is slowly degenerating me. Not only does nothing seem permanent, but nothing seems worth making permanent anymore, human attachments included. And so the cynicism spreads. But it hasn't the counterbalancing bitterness of youth, when such minor betrayals were first discovered and condemned. Resignation is the word of the day. Anyway, friendships (at least) need proximity to survive, and right now we are proximate to no one--but each other.

We move ever further north to colder and colder locales. At night we dash from kitchen to bathroom to tent with our noisy, shivering plaints. Then we huddle in our sleeping bags and wait for our body warmth to spread. It does, miraculously, though a certain numbness about the toes persists.

Posted by chschen 05:00 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

The Island of Hoy

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We land on Hoy and are greeted with a wall of fog

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Our favorite hiking food, yogurt

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The fog begins to clear

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There's the Old Man of Hoy (another sea stack) in the distance

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The ocean looking like slate today

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And there is our only glimpse of the Old Man of Hoy before he is swallowed by fog

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Here it comes

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I bet he usually blends in

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But on the other side of the ridge: sunshine

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Cotton grass

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Old-fashioned green roof

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Water so clear

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Waiting for the ferry, the fog is back

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All right, maybe we got a bit bored

Posted by chschen 05:21 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Walking in Scotland

Walking all day. In Scotland it truly feels like walking, not hiking. Even the highlands are not so very high. Orkney is another end-of-the-world kind of place. Everything eternally grey, the sun forgotten how to shine. Heather everywhere. The famous moorlands of all those Victorian novels. Skipping across burns, shoes sloshing with rainwater. A score of staring, aggressive bulls. Never seen such mean, healthy, interested cattle before. Later, a mother cow just given birth, placenta still dripping from behind and calf tender and wet. Scotland is wild and yet not wild. Emphatically tamed but with some unquashable spirit. Maybe it's the drippiness. If you can survive the wet you must be made of flint and sparks.

Ten hours of clambering over slippery rocks, climbing soggy heather, shuddering in driving rain, fighting buffeting winds, trudging over miles and miles of road, dodging cars and hostile bulls. Calves are sore as they've never been before. Two cans of low-fat soup (and four eggs) were not enough for lunch; we came back and devoured two sandwiches each, a bag of salad, and a whole carton of Ben & Jerry's cookie dough ice cream.

Ohhh, we groan. Let's just sleep and eat and read tomorrow. But we never do.

* * *

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The cutest ponies ever

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I couldn't resist another picture

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Sedimentary rocks?

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Would be cool to see those caves from a kayak vantage point

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Our first sea stack!

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Like a real-life Jenga game

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Hat is already coming in handy!

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Unlike the Isle of Skye, the Orkney Isles are quietly scenic

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Yesnaby coast sea stack

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How did this happen??

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Or this??

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Please don't fall...

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I don't even remember taking this picture, but I'm glad I did

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The most intimidating cattle we've ever met. They chased us, and that barbed wire looked awfully flimsy.

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Who needs Stonehenge when you've got the prehistoric communities of Orkney?

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Stone yoga

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How did they get these guys stuck into the ground?

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He's got the bends

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Look at the height on these!

Posted by chschen 05:00 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Apart

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Goodbye to the lovely hostel kitchen and back to cooking in the wind and rain

* * *

What, the sun come out again? I could sleep and sleep and sleep, though it seems I should have had my fill.

All of our friends seem distant to me now, less real than characters from a book. And I the unrealest of them all.

I am quite alone now. Chris and I have split up for a bus journey to Inverness in order to save some money. We were apprehensive. It has been so long since we've been apart for any time longer than half an hour (discounting when my foot was infected in Bunaken and he went diving without me)--it seems strange to think it's even possible. At first we dismissed this option out-of-hand--ridiculous to risk this in order to save a few pounds, Chris declared. Think of the consequences! I agreed without a second thought. But then the second thought came, and the third, and it occurred to me that it was ridiculous not to consider being apart for a few hours, for what could happen that would be that horrid; were we not both adults? 30 years old? We laughed. All right, separate. And so now I am without him. I feel he should round the corner at any moment, spinning tales of a delectable supermarket he's found. But no, I watched him leave on the bus, pulling faces at me. How odd, how odd.

Posted by chschen 05:00 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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