Orphir to Kirkwall, 16Km
This morning the rain was lashing against the window when I woke up. AccuWeather said it was dry and sunny, even after I pressed refresh. Soon afterwards, the weather obeyed and became dry and sunny. I set off on my final day of walking.
It was a coastal walk for most of the way, along Scapa Flow, the second biggest natural harbour in the world. After WW1 the German fleet was held here and ultimately scuttled by the Germans. It became the main British naval base in WW2 and in October 1939 a U-boat sneaked in and torpedoed HMS Royal Oak in the harbour with the loss of 833 lives. After that, Churchill deployed some Italian POWs to build causeways across the harbour.
However, today’s theme on the pilgrimage was hospitality. I struggled to develop any meaningful thoughts on that, while the ghosts of all those men lay at the bottom of Scapa Flow. Perhaps Remembrance would have been more appropriate. My app’s audio guide had nothing to say today. Not a word about the war so I played some highlights from the previous days, just to hear her beautiful voice again.
I reached Kirkwall and followed the pilgrim route to the cathedral. Rather than taking the direct route, I was directed to the harbour for a northerly approach which might have been more impressive. In the event, when I arrived, I was greeted by a wall of scaffolding. Inside, workmen were banging and drilling. It was noisy. It reminded me of a Humble Pie concert I attended at The Rainbow in 1970, since when my hearing has never been the same.
I found the pillar containing the bones of St Magnus and the memorial to the victims of the Royal Oak then fled outside into the bright sunshine. The St Magnus cafe, just opposite, provided the much sought after hospitality.