One of the attractions that brought us back to Orkney was the varied and often spectacular coastline. There are spectacular cliffs, deserted beaches, secluded bays, all beautiful and, at this time of year, relatively quiet. On Mainland you can find many of these spots and you are never more than half an hours drive from any of them!
One of the outstanding places is Birsay, with its tidal island, view of Kitchener’s Memorial and geos. The word geo is derived from the Old Norse gjá and refers to “an inlet, a gully or a narrow and deep cleft in the face of a cliff. Geos are common on the coastline of the Shetland and Orkney islands. They are created by the wave driven erosion of cliffs along faults …” (from Wikipadia.)
From the Brough of Birsay you get a good view of Kitchener’s Memorial. He was the secretary of state for war at the beginning of World War I and best known for his image that appeared on recruiting posters pointing out that “Your country needs you!” The memorial is there because it was off this part of the Orkney coast that the HMS Hampshire, with Kitchener on board, ran into a German mine and sank in 1916. He and 600 sailors died. After the war conspiracy theories explaining his death abounded. One of them stated Winston Churchill and a Jewish plot were responsible. Another one stated that the ship did not hit a mine at all, but was sunk by explosives hidden aboard by Irish Republicans.