Foraging & Outings

As sweet as its name!

Pics by B&M Bell
Written by Bernie Bell

An OS map and waterproof footwear are recommended for this walk. 

It’s good to have good neighbours, especially neighbours who share similar interests – such as going for walks. Our neighbour Steve has only lived here a couple of years and yet he told us of a walk he’d done which we were completely unaware of at Honeysgeo in South Ronaldsay.

I got our OS map out and it looked like it could be a really good outing. I also looked it up on Canmore and found that there was what sounds like a similar site to the Burnt Mound at Liddle Farm, near the Tomb of the Eagles (now closed to the public). Canmore reports that the mound has been flattened, but the rectangular slab-lined ‘box’ was left in place. I doubt if this site can be visited – not even clear where it actually is/was – somewhere up behind the Bay – but still of interest to folk interested in prehistoric Orkney.

It was a sunny day, so we drove down to South Ronaldsay – admiring the daffodils along the roadsides on the way – turned left just after the 4th Churchill Barrier, and down to Honeysgeo where we tucked the car in carefully so that we didn’t block anyone’s driveway. 

From the left hand end of the bay we could see across to Copinsay (spellcheck still offers ‘Popinjay’ – every time!) and the Horse of Copinsay.

We then walked to our right, along the bay . . . . 

. . . . where Sand Martins were flying in and out of their nest holes in the sand banks.

At the end of the bay, passing some buildings on our right we turned left along the cliff-top path – the way is clearly marked by wooden posts.

Let’s call it Shag Rock.

The burnt mound listed in Canmore wasn’t to be seen, but we did come across what we both consider to be a possible prehistoric lumpy bit.

Standing by this little mound, we look straight across to Rose Ness – and there was a lot going on at Rose Ness.

We sat and ate our sandwiches looking along the coastline of South Ronaldsay.

Then carried on along the path to the very impressive Sheep Bight with its caves – a gloup in the making?

From here we could see across to Kirkhouse Point, and could even pick out the magnificent standing stone on the hill.

We also noticed some big pieces of rusty metal sticking up out of the sea by Skipi Geo (not to be confused with the Skipi Geo at Birsay).

We thought that it looked like the remains of some kind of tower, so carried on along the path to investigate. We couldn’t get down into the bay – those who are younger and more soople probably could – but we contented ourselves with taking photos of the cliff top – has anyone seen the film ‘Tremors’?

And from the cliff top, photos of the metal in the sea.

Enough was enough for that day, so we retraced our steps a little bit back along the path, then turned left through a gate – soon after the gate to Head Farm – and back across the heath to Honeysgeo.

As often happens, this walk will now lead on to another walk. We intend to come back, park in the same place again, and, walking up the track straight toward Skipi Geo, pick up where we left off and see if we can walk to Kirkhouse.

When we got home we looked up the metal in the sea, and found that the Liberian registered cargo ship Irene drifted onto the shore in bad weather in 1969.  Everyone was rescued from the ship, but the Longhope lifeboat had also gone out, and all eight of the lifeboat crew lost their lives.

There is nothing I can say about how hard that was – and not long ago.

About the author

Bernie Bell

Bernie Bell lives in Orkney, is interested in everything – wonders about many things – is confused by many things. “It makes life interesting – or should I say even more interesting.”