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29 August 2014
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COAST
Overlooking Stromness
Overlooking Stromness
Heading up the hill from Warebeth Cemetery, you are now on the home straight, and it is a pleasant stroll back into the centre of Stromness. But there are still some sights to take in before you return to the town.

Firstly take the chance to have a great look at Scapa Flow in all its glory. From this height there is a wonderful view of the whole bay to be had, and it is all too easy to imagine it as it stood almost a hundred years ago, full of massive warships and their crews sitting at anchor in the peaceful waters of the bay.

With the decline of the need for huge naval fleets of battleships and cruisers Scapa Flow is no longer a naval base with the navy abandoning it in 1956, and the shipping to be seen here today is of a more peaceful nature, mainly oil tankers stopping at the Flotta oil terminal.

Black Craig; north of Stromness
Black Craig; north of Stromness

The gas flare at the Flotta terminal can be seen off in the distance to the south and this is the point where the North Sea oil explosion of the mid 1970s has impacted most on Orkney. Although most of the wealth and benefits from the North Sea fossil fuels have headed either to Shetland or Aberdeen, the Flotta terminal has transformed the island it sits on, and ios now a vital part of the Orkney economy.

Flotta is connected by over 200 miles of pipes to the Piper and Claymore oilfields, and since its inception in 1976, the terminal has provided about 10% of UK oil output. Most of the employees travel to the island from the mainland in small tugs, nicknamed "buses" by the workers.

Just before you begin the descent into Stromness, take a final look over to the mountainous island of Hoy on your right, and enjoy the spectacle of the St John's Head cliffs, at 1136 feet the highest perpendicular seacliffs in Britain, too steep even for seabirds to nest on them.

Directions: Walking up from Warbeth Bay climb up the hill until you meet the road running across you, turn right onto this road and walk back to Stromness.

 

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