As the day dawned, black clouds were still around, though with some breaks, and the wind had started to die down. The forecast was set to be fair. Therefore, it was with some optimism that I headed to Westray Airfield for today was the day of The Epic Flight.
I managed to park directly outside the terminal building and got through all the formalities (which consisted of saying "Hello" and talking of the horrendous weather last night where the Check-in Clerk / Air Traffic Controller claimed it was the worst rain he'd ever seen) then it was time to board the 8-seater - 4 rows and I was near the back in the third.
Due to the wind, we had to take off in the wrong direction, which meant the flight lasted slightly longer than scheduled - I timed it that we were airborne for 2 mins 35 secs.
Once on Papa Westray (population about 90) I had the best part of 7 hours to explore. I started at The Knap of Howar. This farmstead is one of the oldest standing buildings in Europe, having been occupied for about 500 years from 3600BC. There are two buildings. The larger was a farmhouse and the other probably a workshop. Fascinating.
I then walked up the west coast, with views back towards Westray, to visit St. Boniface Kirk. This is a restored 12th century Kirk that is still used.
From here I headed back towards the centre of the island towards to east coast, stopping at the Community Co-Op Store for some supplies. On the way I bumped into an American couple I had met at the Heritage Centre yesterday. They had come over by the passenger ferry.
Once I had reached the east coast, I turned right and headed south for some lovely views. Once I had reached the ferry terminal at the southern end I followed the road back to the centre of the island, met the Americans on their way to the ferry and passed the airfield again. By now, the sun had been out for a while and I had stripped down to my t-shirt.
I headed east again to North Wick Bay, a beautiful sandy beach. Here I decided to sit down for an hour in the sun, watching the gentle waves roll in. Then I noticed some seals bobbing around in the bay. It was then time to continue the walk into South Wick Bay and make my way back to the Airfield for the flight back to Westray. This time, I was near the front in the second row, and the flight was a lot quicker - just 1 min 15 secs. Upon my arrival, my B&B host was there to greet me, in his capacity as a member of the ground crew.
Back on Westray I headed to Noltland Castle. The 16th century castle was built by Sir Gilbert Balfour, who led a particularly interesting life. After serving a sentence on French galleys for his part in the murder of Cardinal Beaton, he rose to prominence under Mary Queen of Scots as Master of her household. He was then thickly involved in the plot that resulted in the murder of the Queen's second husband, and refused to give sanctuary to her third. When the Queen fell out of favour, he fled to Sweden and five years later was executed for his part in an attempted on the life of The King of Sweden. Quite a character!
In the evening I headed back to The Pierowall Hotel where I enjoyed a lovely Orkney Cheeseburger and Chips, followed by Apple Sponge and Custard. The American couple were there again. We're both leaving the island tomorrow, but taking different routes so are unlikely to bump into each other again, so we bade each other farewells.
Today, we drove only 13.5 miles, I walked about 8 and flew approximately 4!