Róis Clark | September 20, 2019
We loaded the van for 4 days of travel and drove north up the A9. Crawling around the tight corners we quickly acquired a growing queue of cars waiting behind our very loud but not very fast old van. I admired the views and none more than the vans bright new jazzy VW curtains that its doting owner had deemed necessary to add.
The ferry from Gill’s Bay to St Margaret’s Hope made for a fun exercise of steadying cups of tea while we bumped over the choppy sea.
We arrived at St Margaret’s Hope thinking, ‘Now what?’. Where do you go when there is an almost infinite number of shores on these islands and only 2 days ahead of you?! Well, if in doubt, the harbour is always a good start! Hoods up and mum’s waterproof trousers on (classic mum preparation) we knuckled down to acquire only sharp glass and soggy knees. Turned out dad had the better idea all along, running through the downpour from lovely independent shop to lovely independent shop. We found some treasures on day one, just not in the form of sea glass.
Day 2 we woke up to a warm glowing sunrise over the east of South Ronaldsay. We watched from our campsite, Wheels Organic Farm, as the dog romped around the grassy patch, probably vowing to never set foot in the campervan again after the long journey of the day before.
After a lead from a friend, we headed further east in search for treasure. What we found at our destination was a stunning stretch of sandy beach peaking out from the waves that were crashing upon it. The tide was well and truly in so we had only one thing to do – enjoy the beautiful setting and wait. As the tide made more room for us, mum and I got to work. We found smoothly tumbled pieces of glass and spent hours with our heads down as the tide’s retreat revealed more and more treasure.
Once we felt the relief of finding glass we could now indulge Dad in a day of archaeology. We visited 5000 year old Skara Brae, Maeshowe, and the Ring of Brodgar. It was fascinating and my favourite part was seeing Viking graffiti in Maeshowe that read no more eloquently than todays “Jack woz ere”.
After a few more successful trips to the shore and a night of howling wind, threatening to knock our campervan into the sea, it was time to head home.
What a great trip! What a trusty Green Machine, taking us all the way there and back… or so we thought.
Midnight and only 30 minutes from home the van conked out!
Nothing like a friendly Dornoch mechanic rescuing you from the A9 to complete a Clark family expedition!
“This is turning out to be a very expensive gift from God”, I thought.
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