Saturday, 7 September 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it, through the possibly flawed perceptual filters of my reality tunnel, the most likely answers this week, seem to me to be:

Q1. Shapinsay

Q2. Stronsay

(N.B. for question one, it is a little unclear whether the first island is Shapinsay or Mainland but as the puzzle author says the second island is Wyre and the first mention of an island is describing Shapinsay, the Eastender is taking a punt that the first one is in fact Shapinsay)

The initial clues most likely place us at Kirkwall ( a busy ferry port), on an island in the Orkneys group, which bizarrely seems to be called 'Mainland'. Some sources claim that the first dedicated armed forces newspaper, the 'Orkney Blast', was started here during world war II, by a writer and soldier called Major Eric Linklater (born c 1899). Linklater seems to have been an incredibly industrious and prolific writer (despite being shot up during world war I), who won several awards, both for his books and for his public service. Some references say that he is buried in the Harray parish kirkyard, which looks to be around ten miles or so north west of Kirkwall. He does seem to have published a book called 'Private Angelo' c 1946, which is said to be a war satire.

An island which lies to the east of some of the northern ferry routes out of Kirkwall and which has as its highest point 'Ward Hill', at two hundred and ten feet or sixty four metres, is likely to be Shapinsay. Balfour castle lies on its western tip and according to some sources, it was designed by an Edinburgh architect called David Bryce (born c 1803). Bryce was known for his baronial style designs. Hakon Hakonarson, once a king of Norway, is said to have assembled a fleet off the village of Balfour, in Elwick bay c 1263, in order to do battle with the Scots at Largs. As it turns out, they should have stayed put, because some of their fleet ran aground in a storm and the Scottish squaddies waiting on the beach at Largs, kicked seven bells out of Hakon and his team. Ayre seems to be a norse word for a strip of sea which has been cut off from the main body of water by a narrow neck of land. Shapinsay has a few, the Ayre of Vasa/Vasa Loch and Lairo water, for example. The OS map shows a swamp/nature reserve called Balaclava, to the north of Elwick bay, on Shapinsay.

The second island, which lies three and a half miles or so north west of Shapinsay, is likely to be Wyre. Edwin Muir the poet (born c 1887), is said in some of his bios, to have lived there until the age of fourteen, when he tragically had to leave his Orcadian paradise and go and live in county Hell (aka mainland Britain). Muir is said to have written a poem called 'The Horses', in some references. The oldest stone built castle in Scotland, (Cubbie Roo's Castle) is said to be on Wyre (constructed c 1145 ad), for a big bampot of a giant called Kolbein Hruga. Kolbein Hruga got banned from every pub on the island and the only place he could get a drink was at the lodge, which only opens on Wednesdays.

The fourth island is likely to be Sanday, according to the Northern Lighthouse Board, it does have a lighthouse at Start Point, which is said to have been constructed by Robert Stevenson c 1806 and is around twenty five metres  or eighty two feet high. The ferry route looks to pass close to Sanday (about two miles on the map), before it turns to the south and the pier at Whitehall village, on Stronsay. From the south coast of Stronsay, it should be possible (weather permitting), to see the island of Auskerry, which some sources say is around two hundred and ten acres in area. The NLB claim that the one hundred and eleven foot lighthouse on Auskerry, was built by David and Thomas Stevenson c 1866. A 'Gloup' is said to be a partially collapsed sea cave (the word is probably onomatopoeic, gloup being the noise the sea makes as it slops in). According to the OS map, there seems to be one on Stronsay and its called the 'Vat of Kirbuster Gloup'.

Link to the competition

Where Was I?

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