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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last week I visited Orkney, the Scottish archipelago just north of Great Britain.

I stayed on Mainland. At 523 sq km (202 sq mi) it is the largest island of the group, and 10th largest island in the British Isles overall.

Kirkwall

My first stop was the capital and largest city, Kirkwall.

While it does have an airport, into which I flew, if you are looking for megacity/metropolis photos, you can close this thread already, because Orkney's largest city is about 8500 residents. (This means on days where a couple of big cruise ships call -- it's the UK's biggest cruise destination, believe it or not -- the population can almost double.)

However if you like quaint towns, rural vernacular architecture and historic & prehistoric buildings from this century back to the neolithic - this thread might be for you.

Anyway enough talking, on with the photos. As a port, where else to start but the harbour.

Kirkwall Harbour by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Kirkwall Harbour by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Kirkwall Harbour by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Boats in Kirkwall Harbour by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Kirkwall Harbour at twilight by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

(this port is for local ferries/vessels, the cruise liners dock a few km outside town)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Construction of this red sandstone building, the most northerly cathedral in the British Isles, began in 1137. Different parts of the building date from various subsequent centuries.

Let's take a closer look.

Cathedral frontage by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

St Magnus Cathedral by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

St Magnus Cathedral by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

St Magnus Cathedral by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Cathedral tower by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Cathedral clock tower by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Cathedral clock by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Two features of the local vernacular architecture really stood out to me.

First, these stepped rooflines. According to my mate's girlfriend's dad (!) the style originates in the Netherlands, and came to Scotland with a wave of Presbyterian Dutch immigrants. I have no idea.

Stepped Rooflines by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Stepped rooflines by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Kirkwall has a fire station and also a small power station, seen on the left here.

Kirkwall Power Station and Fire Station by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Usually, Orkney's electricity comes via a subsea link to the main national grid, under Pentland Firth, and the power station is inactive. But in case of damage to this cable, this power station is on standby as a reserve.

Actually, even with it switched it off, Orkney sometimes puts more electricity back into the grid than it takes, as it is a hub of uk renewable energy. You'll see lots of wind turbines in the photos as the thread goes on, and there is also lots of research happening here into tidal generation.

Here's the power station from across the Peedie Sea (actually a small lake)

Kirkwall Power Station across the Peedie Sea by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

And the cathedral from the same place.

Cathedral across the Peedie Sea by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
But first I visited the Earl's Palace.

Quoting Historic Scotland, "The Earl’s Palace was built around 1606 by Patrick, Earl of Orkney. Known as ‘Black Patie’, the tyrannical Patrick ruled the Northern Isles with an iron fist from 1592 until his execution 23 years later. It was declared at his trial that he used slave labour to build his residences."

Earl's Palace by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Earl's Palace by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Earl's Palace by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Chimney in the Earl's Palace by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Earl's Palace by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Cathedral / Earl's Palace by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Cathedral / Earl's Palace by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Earl's Palace by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
But then onto the Bishop's Palace...

Cathedral from inside the Bishop's Palace by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

...which "was built around the same time as St Magnus’s Cathedral, in the early 12th century", but I didn't take any of the historical information in, as I was too busy being excited that you could climb to the top of the tower.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
My last Kirkwall experience was a comical one;

Stag do hi-jinx by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

a group of local young men celebrating a stag do (bachelor party) in traditional style, getting drunk in a pickup, covering each other in muck and cling-film-taping the stag to a lamppost in the middle of a roundabout.

this provided much needed entertainment as I waited several hours for the midnight ferry back to Aberdeen, when I left Orkney at the end of my trip.

The thread is not done yet though, next stop Stromness!
 
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