Welcome to Scrabster, Scotland

    Before we sailed into Scrabster, we had to pass through the Pentland Firth, meaning the Orcadian Strait, which separates the Orkney Islands from Caithness in the north of Scotland.  The Firth is well known by the strength of its tides, being among the fastest in the world, with speeds of 16 knots (18 miles/hour) being reported.  It was at the time of our passing through, that my body decided to bring me out of my restful sleep.  As is my habit upon waking, I looked out our window and realized by the state of the sea, that we were passing through the Firth!.  If you have ever driven across the Deception Pass Bridge in Washington State during the change of tide, you must have some idea of what I saw.   Wow, I need to get up on deck and see this more closely. but by the time I did we must have passed through. Pentland-Firth

     I always enjoy the early morning hours on board ship due to the fact that she ship  is pretty much deserted then, and that was the case this morning.  The sun was just peaking through the clouds painting the water and the clouds  with this beautiful picture.

     Scrabster Harbor is an important port for the Scottish fishing industry. It is a small settlement located on Thurso Bay in Caithness on the north coast of Scotland.  It is 1 1/2 miles from Thurso, which is the largest town in Caithness.  When Barbara and I were in the Navy we were give the opportunity to be stationed at the US Naval Communications Station Thurso, but we chose to go to Southern Spain instead.

    There was some speculation onboard as to whether we would “tender in” or  be able to berth at a small dock, but once the ships forward progress had stopped, and I noticed the tender boats laying off, time for speculation was over.  This was unfortunate for us as well as the townsfolk because this was the ms Prinsendam’s maiden visit to the port.  The ship was scheduled last year, however the weather was so bad that getting the tenders ashore would have been too dangerous for passengers and crew.  So far this cruise the seas have been quite calm, although we did some bumping during the night. By the time the tenders were running, the harbor was no more than a ripple.

     Alastair-Dick---Tour-Guide The ships staff like to get the folks with excursions ashore as soon as  possible since we were due to sail at five.  Alan’s tour had a very aggressive schedule and was therefore permitted to be among the earliest to leave. Our two buses awaited our arrival and we were soon motoring through the towns of Scrabster and Thurso, and out into the most beautiful countryside.  Though  it was overcast, with a forecast of ran, the green fields and hedges more than made up for the grey skies. And as we continued on our way to our first stop; the Queens Castle of Mey, I could not release the thoughts from my mind that we once had a chance to live in this wonderfully raw amazing place. Included is a picture of the very flamboyant Scot; Alastair Dick.  Today I got my wish for “Scottish Brogue”.

     Our first stop was at the Queen Mother’s castle; Castle of Mey.  The castle has an extensive history or being handed down or bought and sold, and had fallen into disrepair until it caught the eye of the Queen Mother.  Today members of the Royal Family still stay there when “on holiday”.  The general public may tour the grounds, gardens and Castle when not in residence.  We were told that when the royal family comes to visit, it takes a day and a half to restore it to a residence and three days to return it to a tourist attraction.  Enjoy the pictures of this beautiful place.  I especially loved the Queens Garden”.  Not only was it bursting with flowers and their aroma, it was also a subsistence garden supplying the Queens Kitchen.Castle-of-Mey Queens-Garden---Castle-of-M Rock-Wall---Castle-of-Mey Thistle

The rock wall above is typical of the extensive use of local flagstone.  I ancient times it was driven into the ground to form a barrier fence and demarcation of property.  I do have a weakness for stone walls and I certainly got my fix today.


These two short port calls have reinforced my love of Scotland.

Next: Welcome to Runavik, Faroe Islands

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