Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I was actually sad to leave Orkney the next day. I’d really enjoyed the place: the friendly people, the spectacular landscape, the bathtub. I ran into Douglas in the morning over breakfast, and he told me that there was some fuss about the train I was taking from Thurso, and he called the rail station to make sure everything was up and running. It was, thankfully. Being stuck in Thurso would not be my idea of a good time.

I checked out, hoping that the 11am ferry would get me into Scrabster with enough time to reach my 1:20 train in Thurso. I had to walk last time, and if I had to again I’d never make it. I stood on the deck for the journey, the wind in my hair, and the spray leaving a fine dusting of salt residue on my jacket and bag. I saw, from afar, the Old Man of Hoy, which is a tall stack of stone set apart from the cliff edge of the island of Hoy. I wasn’t tremendously impressed, but joined the other tourists in taking a few pictures anyway.

I saw a seal in the waters, swimming away from the ship’s resulting tides, looking over its shoulder with a clear expression of, “What the hell was that?”

I landed in Scrabster and immediately adopted a look of wide-eyed terror that I might not be able to catch my train. I was quickly assured that the ferry folks, being sensible creatures, had a £3 bus that would bring me into town without a problem, and so it was that I began the near-incessant journey back home.

The thing, you see, about jumping (almost literally) from bus to train to train to train with no time for break in the middle is that you don’t get to eat. There’s no time to stop and grab food. On the train, if you’re lucky, you can choose from the overpriced bags of chips or cookies or beverages. I had some chips and chocolate, but had no time for much else. It was a long ride. A really long ride.

After about 97 hours I came home, bought battered sausage and chips from a shop on the way, and crashed into bed, thus concluding my expedition to the almost-totally-northerly point of Scotland.

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