A dash to Orcadia for a story

Next week I’m off to the Orkney Storytelling Festival. It has been organised by an islander friend of mine, the Stromness Dragon of Island Blogging fame.

Logo for the OSF

On announcing to The Sainted Marion yesterday that I’d decided to definitely drive up she elected to come too!  So we’re making a real trip of it, although we’ll only be aware from home for a total of six days.

Besides seeing the Stromness Dragon again (its been far too long!) and attending various festival events, its an opportunity to get reacquainted with Orkney. We last visited in June 2009 en route for Shetland and had just under 48 hours there so this time we’re really pushing the boat out and getting close to 60 hours!

En route there we’re going to cross off a couple of places I’ve wanted to visit for quite some time. Firstly the Strathnaver Trail in Sutherland, the scene of the worst of the infamous 18th & 19th century Highland Clearances, and then (not a million miles further on) the RSPB’s Forsinard Flows reserve on the edge of Caithness’s Flow Country. I’ve visited the Flow Country before but it’ll be a first for Marion, and I’ve wanted her to see if for as long as I’ve known her.  At this time of year it should be really quite special –  the rut is in full swing, and with the landscape in full swing autumnal colour extravaganza I’m sure we’ll both get some great pictures.  Then we’ll head for Thurso to catch the Stromness ferry.

On the return leg we’ll stop off in Golspie on the southern Sutherland coast to visit Dunrobin Castle, seat of the Dukes of Sutherland.  For as many years as I’ve been visiting Scotland (and that’s about 30 now) I’ve never yet managed to visit Dunrobin during its opening season, but next weekend we’ll be putting that right – finally.

And then it’ll be the long slog home ….