After a sack lunch on the bus (much better than it sounds), we stopped at Highland Park Distillery where we immersed ourselves, figuratively--for the most part--in whisky making.
We tasted some of the whisky Highland Park is best known for, watched them turn the malted barley on the floor by hand, and learned about the process of smoking the barley over peat cut not too far from the distillery.
The peat smoke gives it a flavor not found in American whiskeys, and I found it intriguing.
If you can find Highland Park Whisky in the states (or wherever you are), it's worth trying.
Our next stop had a bit of crucial timing, as we were headed to the Brough (pronounced 'broch') of Birsay. The remains of a Norse settlement are on the tidal island, and we needed to visit whilst the tide was out.
The first photo shows a view of the causeway from a bit up the hill beyond the settlement. Some of the ruins can be seen to the left of the visitor building in the center of the photo. There was a bit of concrete pathway placed over some of the water, the rest was sand and stones. I had great shoes to keep my feet dry, but their soles were not the best. Note: take waterproof shoes with great tread. You can see our bus way in the carpark on the far side of the causeway, but that still gives you little context for the extent of this little hike. And I was on my way back down the hill--perhaps halfway down from the summit--when I took this photo. But look at all the wildflowers! The wild sea wind and the crash of waves below the cliffs drew me on.
The settlement at the Brough of Birsay was inhabited by Picts in the 7th and 8th centuries. It's not known if the Norse assimilated into the culture or took it by force, but they were the dominating culture from about 900 to 1200 CE.
You approach the settlement over the causeway and up a steep hill. The ruins are nestled partway up the hill which falls away into cliffs that stretch high over the Atlantic. There is also a fairly easily accessible bay to one side of the settlement, giving those who lived there easy access to the sea, and a lovely view as well.
This settlement was simply abandoned after about 500 years. The ruins clearly suggest a church (with two windows which may have been glazed), and a possible sauna and bath house next to what may have been an earl's house.
Beyond the settlement ruins is a light house built in 1925. The views of the Atlantic Ocean from the cliffs are spectacular! We did find Puffins, though you'll probably have to squint to see them. (They're in the 2nd photo)
The walk over the causeway and up the hill was long and a bit of a challenge, but Susie was right. It was well worth the effort.
7/1/2019 07:56:16 am
You found the Puffin!!!! You lucky duck! After fruitlessly searching among the seagulls, Susie advised Joe to take a picture of a puffin in a brochure for family and friends, 😂
7/1/2019 08:08:43 am
Lol! Cindy, I'm afraid that's what I did for a photo of a highland cow. Those we saw were on the wrong side of the bus for me to take a photo. There are actually 2 puffins in the photo, but only one is really visible. The one shot I wished I'd brought my really nice camera :-)
7/1/2019 01:31:17 pm
Ha! I think I did get a shot of the elusive "Hieland Coo" but it just didn't look as hairy as expected - do cows have a summer coat? (see Nancy's shared album) LOL Tell me what you think.
7/1/2019 04:45:37 pm
Cindy, yes they do shed in the spring, so that could be why they weren't as hairy as you think. I also found out they produce less hair in warmer climates, which is why they are found a lot of different places (in the US, for example). I know I saw the photo in Nancy's album earlier, but can't find it now.
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This is where I talk about things in my life outside of writing. Mostly gardening and dogs.
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