Waves at Skara Brae

Work is about to begin on strengthening the foundations of the sea wall at the Neolithic village of Skara Brae.

Waves have undermined a section of concrete toe on which the protective walling was built and could cause damage if left unrepaired.

Historic Scotland has now started a project which will involve digging two metres down, and inserting a new reinforced concrete toe with steel securing rods to bond the existing toe to the underlying bed rock.

Historic Scotland district architect, Stephen Watt, said: “This is an important piece of work along a 15-metre stretch of wall. The area affected is a bit beyond Skara Brae itself, but it is important because it stops the sea outflanking us".

"MV Pentalina"

A new catamaran ferry built for the route between Caithness and Orkney reached the isles Tuesday 9th December.


The ferry, constructed for Pentland Ferries, and called the “Pentalina,” was built in the Philippines.

On its journey from the Pacific, the ship’s crew took security precautions as it passed through waters that have seen increased pirate activity recently.

Previously the departure of the Pentalina for Scotland was delayed, waiting the arrival of additional equipment. Its crew is reporting that the catamaran has been operating well.

The new ferry will replace an older ship that had been servicing the route between Caithness and Orkney.

The Pentalina has a capacity of 350 passengers, 32-58 cars and nine lorries. It will take 45min to make the crossing between Gills Bay, Caithness and St Margaret’s Hope, Orkney.

Pentland Ferries



Skullspiltter Headache

Alistair Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, has tabled a Commons motion calling for a complaint against Orkney Brewery's 8.5 per cent ABV Skull Splitter ale to be rejected.

The 8.5 per cent ABV ale came under fire from the pompous Portman Group last month after a report claimed it "implied violence" - and the drinks watchdog is to meet later in the year to talk about possible action.

In the motion, tabled on Wednesday, Carmichael says he recognises that the name would be inappropriate if it were applied to a low-price high alcohol content drink aimed at young drinkers.

But he adds: "Skull Splitter is not such a drink, but is instead a high quality premium beer, not sold in supermarkets, a past Champion Winter Ale of Britain, which is targeted at, and bought by, discerning drinkers who appreciate its quality and who drink it responsibly."

Five Star Byre

SELF-CATERING-5-STAR.jpg Awarded August 2008 the Byre at Heddle is now officially recoginsed as Scottish Tourist Board  Five Star Self-Catering Accommodation. The Byre is the fourth property in Orkney to achieve this grading. We think we should be Six...

Top of the Pops

 Scotland's population was yesterday officially estimated at its highest for a quarter of a century. The main reason for the rise? Migration. The main source of the newcomers? England.

Net "in" migration - from all sources - is now at its highest since records begin in the early 1950s, said Duncan Macniven, Scotland's registrar-general, in his official annual report on the nation's population. But the number of people moving to Scotland from the rest of the UK far outstrips migrants with a higher profile, like tens of thousands of Poles and other eastern Europeans who have made their home here since British borders were opened up to them in 2004.

Orkney is at the head of this demograhic curve ball.  In many of the outer islands you are more likely to hear southern vowels than the expected Orcadian lilt. Fully 736 people are thought to have moved to the islands in 2006-2007. Half of those were from other parts of Scotland. Most of the rest were from England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Just 45 were officially categorised as "overseas" migrants.

The result: net migration to Orkney of 135, more than cancelling out a modest birth rate and continuing emigration. Orkney's population rose half a percent in the year.