100 Weeks of Scotland: Orkney

I HAD been planning to get to Orkney long before now. It was one of the first places I wanted to go to when I started this project, but somehow, as the weeks passed it seemed always to be slightly out of reach.
Horses on Orkney in this week's edition of 100 Weeks of Scotland. Picture: Alan McCredieHorses on Orkney in this week's edition of 100 Weeks of Scotland. Picture: Alan McCredie
Horses on Orkney in this week's edition of 100 Weeks of Scotland. Picture: Alan McCredie

Week 88

It was with a sense of alarm then that I realised how little time I had to organise a trip before the project had run its course. A perfect storm of events meant I had only a tiny window to get to Orkney and this was reduced further by the fact that I wanted to go by boat, rather than fly. It just seemed the right way to do it.

So I found myself on a ferry from Aberdeen, heading almost due north into the sunset, so light and short are the nights at this time of year at these northern latitudes. I had decided for once to leave the car behind and take my bike instead, again probably foolishly as I would have so little time on Orkney. Once more though, it just seemed the right way to see the islands.

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Before long I was on the lonely roads of these faraway isles and was completely captivated by their windswept beauty. It seemed to me that there was a definite shift in the light at these high latitudes. There is a quality here that seems missing from the mainland. Perhaps it was my imagination, but the muted colours and the soft light made everything seem very otherworldly.

I cycled, wandered, explored, photographed, island-hopped and far far too soon was heading south once more towards Aberdeen, feeling like I had barely grazed the surface of the Orkney Isles. Like so many places I have visited in the course of this project it is one I will return to when time is kinder to me. Orkney and it’s light will still be here when I do – time seems to have less of a hold there.

• Alan McCredie began the ‘100 weeks of Scotland’ website in October last year, and it will conclude in Autumn 2014. McCredie’s goal is to chronicle two years of Scottish life in the run-up to the independence referendum.

Alan says ‘one hundred weeks...’ is intended to show all sides of the country over the next two years. On the site, he says: “Whatever the result of the vote Scotland will be a different country afterward. These images will show a snapshot of the country in the run up to the referendum.

“The photos will be of all aspects of Scottish culture - politics, art, social issues, sport and anything else that catches the eye.”

Follow the project at www.100weeksofscotland.com. You can also follow Alan on Twitter @alanmccredie.