Blair and I went on a day trip to the Orkney Islands, just off the northern tip of Scotland. This group of islands is supposed to have one of the highest concentrations of historical monuments per square mile

The ferry leaves from John O’Groats – there’s the Orkney Islands in the background

John O'Groats The orkney from the mainland

But hang on a second – look at these three – Dunnet Head is the northermost point – so why do all the “length of the country” types always finish at John O’Groats? It’s a conspiracy I tell you…or maybe it’s just that the road to Dunnet Head isn’t that great, and wouldn’t be able to handle the traffic.

Dunnet Head Dunnet Head Dunnet Head

I figure the climate must have been a bit different a few hundred years ago – the Orkney Islands are a pretty harsh sort of a place – so why would you have settled all the way up there, when you could have been sunning yourself in the Mediterranean?

Kirkwall Castle Kirkwall Castle Kirkwall Castle Castle Bowling Green

Skara Brae is probably the most amazing thing there – a small group of houses from 5000 years ago, that were covered in sand until the 19th century. The places were remarkably well preserved.

Skara Brae Skara Brae Skara Brae Skara Brae

They do the ring of standing stones thing well in Orkney

Standing Stones Standing Stones

A nice little church…no wait a minute it’s a Nissen Hut! The chapel was built by Italian prisoners of war during WWII

Nissen Hut church Nissen Hut church

The POWs built the Churchill Barriers, to protect the entrances to Scapa Flow, an important anchorage for the British fleet during WWII.

Churchill Barriers Churchill Barriers