Thursday, 26 June 2008

The longest day

Listening to: BBC "news"
Weather: Orkney summer

Mr Hotel Proprietor's feet were getting somewhat chilly, I could tell. He glanced wistfully at the widescreen TV in the bar where Russia and Holland were heading for extra time and gave me that "do we have to?" look.

The Sort-of Pig Farmers were sipping a livener, wrapped up warm, wearing sensible shoes and ready for the great outdoors - even at 10pm.

The plan had been to get to the top of Fitty Hill (Westray's highest point) and mark the solstice by watching the sun go down and come up again. A glass or two of wine and something to nibble on may have come into the equation.

Mr HP pushed his doubts aside and took the lead, insisting he knew a way to get the vehicles close enough to the hill to leave us only a short walk to the top (it's not a very big hill).

I wasn't too worried as we turned off the road and bumped along a track at the side of a field. Not too worried as we stopped to open a couple of gates and as the grass grew a little longer. A little more worried as we dismantled and reassembled a couple of barbed wire barriers and continued through two-foot grass (the track was still there, kind of). And actually pretty concerned as we came to a gate where the mud on the other side made the going dodgy even in a Land Rover. . . and there was nowhere to turn.

Abandoning worries and vehicles, we set off for the top. Half-an-hour later (give or take a few minutes) we wheezed onto the summit into a brisk north-easterly.

Wind-break erected and camping stove lit, we raised a glass, enjoyed the views of Orkney's North Isles (I took pictures, but the words 'green', 'black' and 'murky' applied) and waited.

I'd love to say it was spectacular, but it wasn't. The sun had already dipped below the northern horizon and it toyed with the idea of getting dark, but then decided not to bother and by 1am we were all getting cold and a nightcap was beckoning.

Back at the Land Rover, I found I had to reverse down the aforementioned grassy track. Given that there were ditches either side, stepson Pat was persuaded to walk down the middle, acting as something to aim at. Rarely have I been so pleased to see tarmac.

I slumped into bed at 3ish with a sigh of relief. Been there, done that - next time I'll stick with the footy.


ziggi said...

That was nearly as exciting as being at Stonehenge!

Richard said...

I have only once witnessed solstice sunrise. It was meant to be a meaningful romantic interlude on some remote easterly facing hillside in Kent but she couldn't be arsed to get out of bed so I ended up watching the sun come up on my own over Lakeside Shopping Centre from Cotton Lane in Stone near Dartford. Ethereal.

fiwa said...

Awww... how romantic. You get points for trying, at any rate!

To celebrate the Solstice in Seattle, they have a parade where people ride their bikes in the nude. Bet that was interesting ride this year, since it's been cold enough to run the heater most mornings! ;)

dinahmow said...

Yes, but we have to do these things sometimes.It gives us something to brag about in pubs when our team's losing!

And what is it with Ziggi and the Henge?

I, like the view, still said...

at least you tried to do something interesting!

mig bardsley said...

What a lovely thing to do. I'm really quite envious - even of the cold and the green, black and murky :)
And especially the ritual (?) glass raising and the camp stove.
And without the dangerous, risky reversing it wouldn't have been such an adventure :)