Kirkwall, Orkney Islands 

After a much needed sea day, we arrived in Kirkwall. Our ship was not docked at the expected dock (steps from the town center) so the locals provided a complimentary “bendy bus” shuttle. 

Unfortunately, we did not go into town, but hung out on our ship until our tour in the afternoon. Ship tours are generally not as good as private tours (large coach busses with too many people) but this one wasn’t too expensive, especially as we would get a $50 cruise credit once the tour was completed. 

Our tour was of the southern part of Orkney. There would be several panoramic view points that we would stop at along with the town of St. Margaret’s Hope and the Italian Chapel. 

My one complaint about the tour was that we spent an entire hour in St. Margaret’s Hope, which was far too long. There is a free blacksmith museum, a craft shop, a convenience store and a hotel with a small restaurant/pub.  As I had already acquired my fridge magnet at the craft shop set up at the pier, I had no shopping to do and would have been happy to leave the town after 20 minutes!

However the scenic spots were plentiful and very worthwhile. We went along Scapa Flow, where the Germans scuttled their fleet after WWI.  

It is the same body of water in which the battleship HMS Royal Oak was sunk during WWII. A German commander took advantage of the deep channel and a extraordinarily high tide to run his U-boat up the Flow to torpedo the battleship. 

More scenic spots ensued on our drive to the Italian Chapel. 

Italian soldiers captured during campaigns in North Africa were sent to Kirkwall as prisoners of war. During their interment they would build the Churchill Barriers which would prevent future attacks on Scapa Flow. They would also build their Chapel out of two Quonset huts and scavenged materials. The interior is hand-painted and a testament to peace overcoming war. 

Overall a nice tour and overview of the history of the Orkney Islands!


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