Before I start, a big “Thanks !” to reader “Pauline” from Greater Maidstone. Although she couldn’t meet me in my chosen GBG pub today on account of there being pashminas to wash, she very kindly visited it to confirm I wouldn’t get stabbed. Let that be an example to you all.
September 9th, 2022. The longest day.
The planning for the Orkney leg had, in the end, been a bit hurried. I’d attempted visits before, but it made sense to finish here just in case a rogue new entry appeared in Twatt the next edition. And Mrs RM was insistent she joined me at the finale.
My Orkney planning had been SO good that as I checked my ferry bookings on the NorthLink crossing (good bottled beer range, dull food) from Scrabster I suddenly noticed a glaring omission on the return leg;
Help ! I hadn’t booked a passenger ticket for Mrs RM, so she’d have to stay on Orkney for ever and ever. To be honest, I’d have hopefully completed the GBG by then, so I might not even notice her absence*.
A frantic call to the nice lady at Pentland Ferries as we passed the Old Man of Hoy (built by our new monarch) confirmed there was just enough space for her and divorce was narrowly avoided.
“US” Dave had raved about Orkney and as usual he was correct. It felt otherworldly, particularly at Yesnaby Cliffs where we headed for an hour before the Ferry Inn opened at 4 (micro hours).
I know most folk with a day on Orkney head for the standing stones or take a selfie of themselves standing by the “Twatt” village sign, but Yesnaby (Gaelic for “no tasters”) was wonderful,
though Mrs RM was terrified I’d fall to my death seven pubs short of GBG completion.
Her photo of authentic Orkney locals (top) would become my favourite of the trip.
Stromness town (pop. 2,500) was picturesque too, in a Suffolk coastal sort of way, though the pedestrianised main street was awash with vehicles, making these photos of the temperance hotel (honest) a risky venture.
Note flag at half mast for our visit. Now you might think the “Flattie Bar” the most interesting feature, but I reckon this is the Font of the Year.
I’ll let Matthew Lawrenson be the judge.
From here till Rousay I was in tenterhooks at opening time, but 4pm saw the door of the Ferry Inn swing open,
and inside was the sort of gorgeous old seaside pub that you dream of finding in every town round the coast.
The first Scapa Special of the day, both Swannay beers a cool, crisp NBSS 3+. Even better, Mrs RM chose not to practice “Time to Say Goodbye” on the lute (private joke, ask Duncan).
Right, time for The Big Night Out.