Orkney & Shetland 2019 - Day 14

Orkney - Marwick Head


On the west coast of Mainland lies Marwick Head, a few miles north of Skara Brae. It is known for its nesting seabirds, especially Guillimots, Kittywakes and Puffins.

Marwick Head

We drove past Skara Brae to the car park for Marwick Head. From the beach the track climbs gently onto the headland, afording good views of the cliffs and the seabirds nesting on the ledges. We were there in mid-May but only a few birds had arrived, mostly the black and white Guillimots. Puffins had been seen, but not today. We were too late in the morning to see the puffins, they were probably out fishing. On the top of the headland is the Kitchener Memorial. The HMS Hampshire sank just below the headland in June 1916. Going down with it was Lord Kitchener on a secret mission for war talks with the Russians.

On our way back along the beach we met a woman walking slowly, peering at the beach. She told us she was looking for shells - cowrie shells. I was somewhat disbelieving as most cowries are tropical, although we have one small species in New Zealand. Sure enough she showed us her haul and I soon found one for myself (they are actually Trivia arctica. Apparently, local Orcadians spend a lot of time looking for cowries as they are believed to be a good luck charm. Later, we saw collections of cowries as decorations in cafes - we now knew their significance!

This way to Marwick Head
We met swans and ...
oystercatchers on the way
looking south to Hoy
Guillimots nesting on the cliffs
The Kitchener Memorial on the headland..
The Kitchener Memorial on the headland..
Seal playing in the sea
The beach at Marwick Head.

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Last updated: 23/06/2019