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Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!


Postby Jaxter » Mon Dec 14, 2020 10:35 am

Route description: Hunda island from Burray village

Date walked: 08/11/2020

Time taken: 2.15 hours

Distance: 7.39 km

Ascent: 183m

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Previous day - a special day on Hoy

The Gloup & Brough of Deerness
3.24km
81m ascent
56 minutes

After 2 big days we were planning to have a bit more of a sight-seeing day on Sunday before catching the ferry. The weather wasn’t bad, but it was a colder cloudier than the previous days. We had to be out of the apartment by 10 (and we were – just!) and we headed in Kirkwall to enjoy ice cream for breakfast and a wander around town, in the daylight this time.
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We then drove around to Scapa to have a nosy – when we had passed on our way into Kirkwall on the first evening it had been dark
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Next we had a drive up to Deerness – we had spotted The Gloup on a map and it turned out to be a collapsed sea cave which was actually pretty cool!
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Looking down the coast to Copinsay
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The outflow of the collapsed sea cave
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There was a path all the way out to the Mull Head so we thought we would wander along and see how far we got. The cliffs were fantastic!
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The rocks were all a bit damp and looked slippery but with a bit of care we were able to climb out to the tops of the cliffs to get a better look
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It was really interesting how different areas of Orkney had such different rock – all the sea cliffs we had seen seemed to be different!
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It looked like lots of thin slices of rock had been stacked up
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The Brough of Deerness – abandoned settlement was marked on the map here
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The path actually went out there, it was properly made with steps and rope hand holds and everything, so we figured it would be interesting
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A closer look at these particular cliffs
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We climbed up the rock cut steps and found the 11th century Norse chapel on top. There were also the remains of other buildings which apparently dated back as far as 600BC
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We headed back down the wee path
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We were planning to go out to the trig point at Mull Head but I was struggling with my breathing – it seems to be worse in the cold weather – so we headed back to the car.

From here we thought we would have a wee look at the islands that we had driven over in the dark on our way up on Thursday night. We could see the Churchill Barriers connecting the 2 smaller islands of Glimps Holm and Lamb Holm
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We stopped to enjoy our lunch outside the Italian Chapel on Lambs Holm – built by Italian prisoners of war who were living in a camp on the island.
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Looking back across the barriers
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As we crossed the next barrier we could see the remains of ships that had been sunk in an attempt to stop enemy submarines penetrating Scapa Flow during WW2. This had limited success which was why the Churchill Barriers were initially built.
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Oil rigs sitting in Scapa Flow
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Hunda attempt
1.45km
42m ascent
37 minutes

We planned to have a wander out to the small island of Hunda – a tiny island which is joined to Burray by a small causeway (apparently this was built as a practise run for the Churchill Barriers). We parked on the verge a short distance before the end of the road and walked down towards the farm of Littlequoy. We could see the island ahead
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We had read that there had been access issues here so we were careful (as we always are!) to stay away from the farm itself and walked down the edge of a field. We passed some ruins
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We stepped down onto the beach towards the causeway
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Part of the way along the beach we were accosted by who turned out to be the farmer from Littlequoy. He seemed to have a problem with many aspects of our walk – where we had parked, the fact that we had walked across his land, disruption to his farming and his insistence that he owned the causeway which meant we didn’t have right to roam.

We tried to have a reasoned conversation with him but decided that we didn’t want a confrontation and turned back. We have reported it to the local access officer, and it seems that this is an ongoing problem where the farmer has decided to dig his heels in and refuse to listen to reason. It was frustrating and didn’t feel good to be accosted in such a way :shock:


Hoxa battery
2.7km
60m ascent
41 minutes

We drove down to St Margaret’s Hope where we found a place doing takeaway hot chocolate and then thought we would have time to wander out to the lighthouse at Hoxa before catching our ferry home.

In stark contrast to our “welcome” at Littlequoy, there was a parking area just before The Bu and signs directing us past a couple of houses and down the side of a field.
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A path led us around the top of the cliffs towards some old military lookout buildings
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The lighthouse itself was modern and apparently solar powered!
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There were a lot of the old lookout buildings, and some of the gun placements were still there. This whole camp was for defending Scapa Flow from incoming enemy vessels.
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We decided to continue along the cliffs as the path was good and I was feeling ok
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Amazing – more different rock making up these cliffs. Much more chunky than the slices up at Deerness
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With everything being a little damp underfoot we needed to be careful!
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As we reached the end of the headland we turned back and picked up a farm track. We could see the lights of Flotta in the distance
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Looking back to the last of the military camp. These ones seemed to be a bit more collapsed!
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We made it back to the car just as the rain started. From here it was only a few minutes drive back to the ferry where we arrived with a few more minutes to spare than Thursday night :lol: Image

Passing close to what we thought was an oil tanker
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We could feel the wind picking up, and although Malky assured me that we weren’t rocking very much it felt a bit bouncy for my liking :crazy: I was very glad to be back on land (also because it was raining and cold so standing outside wasn’t as pleasant as the trip over) and was also extremely happy to hand him the keys and zone out :lol:

A fantastic first trip to Orkney – will definitely return 8)
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Jaxter
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby Sgurr » Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:24 pm

Had hoped that confrontations like this were a thing of the past. Always have to remind myself that farming is a very lonely job and can impinge on folks' mental health. Not that I am pointing a finger, but just something to be aware of.
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:31 pm

Your recent sequence of Orkney reports show it to be a much more attractive place than I'd imagined!

Impressed that you maintained your cool and avoided any more confrontation. I have to say, I don't think I'd have managed it. I've had a few of those in my time, and if the guy/woman is shouty, I just ignore them and carry on.
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby Sunset tripper » Tue Dec 15, 2020 9:09 am

A great trip, pity about the "get off my land" fellow harassing you. I haven't ventured to any of the islands this year apart from Skye (which doesn't really count :D )
There's something great about travelling on the ferries to the islands, Mulls my favourite, next year hopefully.
All the best :D
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby past my sell by date » Wed Dec 16, 2020 12:21 am

Lovely report and pics. Sad about the confrontation, but I guess some farmers are having a very hard time and feel alienated by the world. They need help (IMO) not reminding of the rules
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby Jaxter » Tue Dec 22, 2020 6:06 pm

Sgurr wrote:Had hoped that confrontations like this were a thing of the past. Always have to remind myself that farming is a very lonely job and can impinge on folks' mental health. Not that I am pointing a finger, but just something to be aware of.

Yeah - it was frustrating especially as we felt that we had gone out of our way to be considerate. It sounds like an ongoing issue where the farmer in question has dug his heels in for whatever reason.


Alteknacker wrote:Your recent sequence of Orkney reports show it to be a much more attractive place than I'd imagined!

Impressed that you maintained your cool and avoided any more confrontation. I have to say, I don't think I'd have managed it. I've had a few of those in my time, and if the guy/woman is shouty, I just ignore them and carry on.

Orkney is fabulous - definitely worth a visit (maybe next year?!) I really wasn't in the mood for a confrontation and he certainly wasn't in the mood to listen :roll:


Sunset tripper wrote:A great trip, pity about the "get off my land" fellow harassing you. I haven't ventured to any of the islands this year apart from Skye (which doesn't really count :D )
There's something great about travelling on the ferries to the islands, Mulls my favourite, next year hopefully.
All the best :D

I know what you mean - something about getting on a ferry makes it feel like a real adventure 8) We'd hoped to get to Mull this year too, but definitely not on the cards now. Here's hoping for better times next year!
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby Marty_JG » Wed Dec 23, 2020 12:31 am

past my sell by date wrote:I guess some farmers are having a very hard time and feel alienated by the world. They need help (IMO) not reminding of the rules


It's not mere "rules", it's the law of the land.

Farmers have no more right to ignore the law of the land than anyone else including you or me.
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby When Adventure Knox » Wed Dec 23, 2020 9:53 am

Wow, sorry you had to deal with that confrontation. It's such a shame as I find walkers in the countryside to be some of the most considerate people I come across (though I do work with teenagers and live in London so maybe I have a skewed pool of people around me!) It makes me wonder what has happened in the past to make the farmer be this way towards you.. and others by the sounds of things!

Thankfully on my recent trip to Scotland, I didn't experience anything such as this, I wonder what impression would have been left on me had I done!

Lovely photos, thank you for sharing, I especially love the modern lighthouse, never seen one like it before!
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby past my sell by date » Wed Dec 30, 2020 11:41 pm

Marty_JG wrote:
past my sell by date wrote:I guess some farmers are having a very hard time and feel alienated by the world. They need help (IMO) not reminding of the rules


It's not mere "rules", it's the law of the land.

Farmers have no more right to ignore the law of the land than anyone else including you or me.

But do remember the law is often an ass!
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby Marty_JG » Thu Dec 31, 2020 1:20 am

past my sell by date wrote:But do remember the law is often an ass!


I don't see the Right to Roam law as an example of "ass" legislation but your mileage may vary.
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby past my sell by date » Thu Dec 31, 2020 12:48 pm

Marty_JG wrote:
past my sell by date wrote:But do remember the law is often an ass!


I don't see the Right to Roam law as an example of "ass" legislation but your mileage may vary.

Where you park at Kinlochhourn to walk out to Barrisdale, the farmer used to sell cups of tea, but he was told he had to install around £2000 pounds worth of stainless steel equipment - to comply with health and safety. it was the law! but the law was certainly an ass!
However, perhaps I put it badly: lets say that in far flung places like this, the law should be applied with a modicum of discretion. This land had perhaps been in the farmer's family since time immemorial and he clearly felt a deep personal attachment to it (as one would to one's garden).
I have a certain sympathy with that view
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby Marty_JG » Thu Dec 31, 2020 6:53 pm

In the mid 80s the fatal workplace accident rate in construction was around 10 per 100k, it's now less than 2 per 100k. General workplace fatalities in the mid 80s was 2 per 100k, it's now 0.3 per 100k. Non-fatal workplace accidents have seen similar scales of decline.'

All of those declines are due to H&S laws so they have had a massive impact - mainly on families not seeing the father/husband not return from work (almost all workplace fatalities are male). But the laws are also quite general, to find such specific requirements is strange. I can find no mention of specific requirements for teapots in the law. The closest I can find to a legislative basis for hygiene standards in food processing equipment is European Standard BS EN 1672-2. But again, even in that I can find no mention of stainless steel teapots. Those regulations state food equipment materials must be:

corrosion resistant
non-toxic
non-absorbent
not transfer undesirable odours, colours or taint to the food
not contribute to contamination of food
not have any adverse influence on the food


None of those provisions seem unreasonable or "ass". Perhaps the problem was the equipment the farmer was using (cracked pottery), and perhaps the problem was the individual enforcement officer. I can't find the issue within the law.
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby thepigguy » Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:02 am

I've only just seen this report and I'm sorry and embarrassed about the incident near Hunda, just as any Orkney resident would be. It's not the first time this has happened there and I think the best advice is to approach from the road out of Burray village and along the south.

In any case, I've let a local councillor know and emailed the access officer just to check they're keeping an eye on the situation.

Glad to see you had a mostly good time here and if both you come again be sure to make your way out to Westray.

Cheers,
Malcolm
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby Skyelines » Wed Jun 16, 2021 2:10 pm

There is a certain logic to the Orkney farmer's stand about the causeway.

The access law refers to responsible access to "land" and "water" whereas the causeway is not "land" but a manmade construction connecting two pieces of "land".

It would be interesting to know definitively how the access law relates to this structure as it is not in the same category as a track or road(or is it?)

If one got to the island by boat and landed then the access law would clearly apply.
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Re: Orkney - short walks & confrontation with angry farmer!

Postby MusicalHiker » Sat Jun 19, 2021 9:48 pm

I know all those walks well - Mull Head/Gloup/Broch of Deerness/Covenanter's Memorial is one of my favourites.
As for grumpy landowners - yes, there are some! I'm heading home in a week and will hopefully get some good weather, it can be absolutely spectacular when it's sunny...
Attached pic of another brilliant one, from the Skaill to Birsay walk (Or Yesnaby to Birsay if you have the time/energy) I'm a Stromness girl so West is Best :lol:
DSC_0097.JPG
Fishermen's huts, approaching Broch of Birsay
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