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jorgesanchez Kirkwall - A travel report by jorge
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Kirkwall,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
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jorgesanchez's travel reports

British’s Islands pizzicato

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I have just arrived from a two weeks journey around several islands of the United Kingdom thanks to the cheap tickets sold through internet by the airline company Ryanair (I paid for a round trip Gerona/Glasgow only 60 euro!!!).


Puffins are the characteristic birds of these archipelagos
Puffins are the characteristic birds of these archipelagos
Orkney and Shetland Islands -------------------------------------- First I visited Kirkwall, in the Orkneys, and Lerwik in the Shetlands, belonging to Scotland. Transport there is very easy. You can reach both archipelagos by daily boats from Aberdeen or from the port of John o’Groats (from the railway station of Thurso there are free taxis to the port). There are cheap youth hostels everywhere. In Kirkwall I just paid 10 pounds for a bed in a dormitory in the small youth hostel besides the port. There is another youth hostel, greater, but a little bit far walking from Kirkwall, and costs 12 pounds. Internet is free (during 30 minutes) in the public libraries. These islands, colonized in the past by the Vikings, belonged to Scandinavian countries (Denmark and Norway) until 1472, when the Scottish King Jacob III married Princess Margarita, from Denmark. The houses and narrows streets have an invariable Scandinavian style, and even the cathedral in Kirkwall reminds the one in Trondheim (Norway). During the Second World War the Germans submarines attacked Kirkwall killing many marines and then Winston Churchill ordered to construct a causeway to avoid further attacks with the help of forced labour from the Italians prisoners of war captured in Tobruk and Benghazi, in today’s Libya. The Italians, in their free time, using raw materials, erected a catholic church, and today is considered a local monument. When I was in Lerwik I learnt that I was closer to Bergen, in Norway, than to the British Islands mainland. In summer time there is even a weekly boat service to Bergen, to Iceland, and to the Faeroe Islands. In spite of being in summertime, it was very cold.

Favourite spots:
Catholic Church constructed by the Italians Prisoners of War
Catholic Church constructed by the Italians Prisoners of War
Afterwards I went by train to Bideford, in Devon, to catch a ferry during two hours to another unusual island: Lundy, which issues its own stamps and has a special political status, close to sovereignty. There live only 24 people, but 23 of them offer accommodation in private houses, in castles, and even in the lighthouse! The island is about 5 kilometres long for 1 wide and is easily visited in three hours. Therefore I recommend you to buy a round trip ticket for the same day (for just 24 pounds). You can visit the enormous church, the castle, climb up to the top of the lighthouse (the old one, not the new one near the port) and rest in the hammocks upstairs to enjoy an excellent panorama view. Finally I advise you to have lunch in the only Tavern, called Marisco. In the way back to the mainland the ferry brought me to Ilfracombe, a nice tourist resort in Devon, and slept in a pleasant and cheap youth hostel behind the church, in the same port, for 12 pounds.

What's really great:
Aerial view of Lundy Island
Aerial view of Lundy Island
Scilly Islands ---------------- Only five islands in this archipelago are inhabited. I visited two of them: Saint Mary’s, the main one, and Tresco, with its lovely garden. Believe it or not, the fastest, more exotic, scenic and cheapest way to get there is by helicopter from Penzance, in Cornwall. I paid just 61 pounds for a round trip ticket to Hugh Town, Saint Mary’s capital, and returned from the neighbour island of Tresco. During the flights, which last about twenty five minutes each, you can admire the fantastic Saint Michael Mount and its castle.

Sights:
My helicopter landing in Saint Mary’s Island, Scilly
My helicopter landing in Saint Mary’s Island, Scilly
Victor Hugo spent 19 years of his exile, first in Jersey and then in Guernsey, where he wrote The Miserables. In Ghernsey you can visit the house where he lived.
In Herm and Sark there are no cars, just tractors. You can sleep in campings in these two islands.

Accommodations:
Astonishing Mount Saint Michael, near Penzance. It reminded me Mont Saint Michel, in Normandy, near
Astonishing Mount Saint Michael, near Penzance. It reminded me Mont Saint Michel, in Normandy, near
You find plenty of accommodations everywhere in the many youth hostels, or you can sleep while travelling in the ferries.
The company Condorferries serves Guernsey and Jersey from Weymouth (although you can get there from Portsmouth or fly from many other English cities). You can also navigate to these two islands from Saint Malo, in France, or flying from the French resort of Saint-Brieuc. If you buy a ferry ticket, it is cheaper to ask for a round trip ticket instead of one way, called same day return, even if you do not plan to return the same day, but do not say it to the seller!
There are regular ferries around the islands. From Guernsey to Herms you have a boat every two hours, and to Sark several times a day. To Alderney is more difficult; there are several sailings a week from Guernsey with Manche Iles Express company, or daily flights with the airline Rockhopper.

Nightlife:
No clubs in Lundy Island. Only in Guernsey and Jersey.

Other recommendations:
Lonely beach in Guernsey
Lonely beach in Guernsey
Channel Islands consist basically of five inhabited islands with a marked French flavour and special political status. The most populated is Jersey, and the other four form part of Guernsey, and are: Guernsey, Herm, Sark and Alderney.
Did you know that Sark has the only feudal state in Europe, administrated by a “Seigneur”, or a “Dame”, which are hereditary titles?
The present Seigneur of Guerney states is Michael Beaumont.
These islands were the only English territory occupied by the Germans during the Second World War and the tunnels constructed by them in Jersey are a tourist attraction today.
They issue their own coins and notes, different ones in Jersey than in Guernsey (they even have 1 pound note). Although everybody uses English language, in the small villages locals speak a French dialect.


Published on Monday July 4th, 2005


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Fri, Jan 09 2009 - 04:40 PM rating by hieronyma

HI Jorge, excuse me not to have looked up your reports. This one is a good one. I once have been to the Orkneys, I stayed in Kirkwall and toured the mainland by bicycle - it seems you missed Skara Brae, the neolithic village, an amazing sight -. I also visited several of the other islands going with the supply vessels and went to Fair Isles, this rock in the sea, on whose top people live. And naturally I saw the birds' nesting place in the rocks of the Shetlands. And Cornwall I walked the trail along the coast from Pensance to Land's End, than I had to quit because of the rain. You really make me remember my journeys. Thank you. Christl

Mon, Jul 11 2005 - 06:19 PM rating by magsalex

A wonderful report with some outstanding photography. Thanks for reporting on our fair isles.

Tue, Jul 05 2005 - 05:31 AM rating by davidx

This is breathtaking. You make me feel ashamed not to have seen these islands. However we still have some other fine ones, should you fancy coming this way again. Another great report!

Tue, Jul 05 2005 - 01:15 AM rating by picasso

Magnificent ,and very interesting report with awesome photography.*****+

Boris

Mon, Jul 04 2005 - 05:06 PM rating by rangutan

I was expecting another amazing report from you from/of a remote place and this ones is too! Islands within the doorsteps of Europe that so few have really visited. Thanks again.

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