“Skara Brae proclaim(s) the triumph of the human spirit in early ages and isolated places.”
You might know Brown’s Hostel and holiday cottages by their reputation for homely hospitality, and their location in the huddled harbour town of Stromness is picturesque and charming. But what else might bring you to Orkney?
While I was researching the area, the name of Skara Brae jumped out at me. It is a village of nine stone houses right on the beach overlooking the west coast of Mainland. It is the time period that first gives you pause for thought. 5000 years ago, about the time that writing was being invented in the first towns of Sumer; as naked lads were vaulting over bulls in ancient Crete; long before the pyramids were built or Stonehenge was thought of; before even the mammoth became extinct, Skara Brae was a thriving village.
The next romantic thought is that in 1950 an extraordinarily severe storm ripped up the earth and revealed the village from under a hillock, surprising everyone including the locals.
You can see it today in almost Pompeii-like perfection of preservation. Handcrafted stone walls topped with a furry layer of sea grass. Narrow doorways to shelter out the worst of the weather. Fitted shelves and benches for furniture. If, like me, you are prone to dreamy reveries in historic places then a visit here is a must.
The visitors centre has a thoroughly convincing recreation of one of the houses which you can explore and marvel at the sophistication of the ancient inhabitants – see their dice, jewellery, and tools. Together with a further collection of rich pre-historic sites on Orkney, it has been given UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The statement of its significance begins, “The monuments at the heart of Neolithic Orkney and Skara Brae proclaim the triumphs of the human spirit in early ages and isolated places.” I couldn’t agree more.
Right in the heart of this harbour town you’ll have chance to sample Orkney life.
Brown’s hostel and houses, Stromness Orkney, are named after the eponymous Mrs Brown (though not the Brendan O’Carroll comedy creation). Reputed to offer warm hospitality, one visitor reported,
‘The best value for your money in Stromness, if not all over Orkney…Mrs. Brown is one of the most thoughtful innkeepers I have ever met.’
They offer a hostel and a self-catering house to visitors. Both are full of modern amenities as well as traditional character. Right in the heart of this harbour town you’ll have chance to sample Orkney life. Just like all those sailors from Vikings to the great age of sail to modern holidaymakers, you’ll find Stromness a welcome haven.
Stromness is the second town of Orkney and nestles around the bay of Hamnavoe (meaning bay of many small islands). The town and the name look out to the sea. Everything here is shaped by it. As you wake you will hear the boats creaking as they rock; smell the sea air and the fresh catches. As you walk round the town with its winding streets and cobbled lanes you’ll see how the houses are shaped and placed to resist the sea winds.
Each Spring Equinox Spiritual Orkney hosts a celebration at the Ring of Brodgar.
Orkney is built up of 70 islands with an ancient heritage in the most northern part of the UK. Orkney can be spellbinding and welcoming, a visit is never forgotten. Spring is very obvious in Orkney, with the dark days getting lighter, hares boxing and song birds courting. Spiritual Orkney welcomes anyone who wishes to come to a celebration of the Spring at the Ring of Brodgar on the Spring Equinox (20th March in 2017). The celebration is based on ancient words but it is inclusive to those of all religions and none. A great place to stay for your visit to Orkney Brown Hostel in Stromness, a short cycle ride from the Ring of Brodgar.
There is no charge and the orgnaisers only ask that you bring your open mind and warm heart, and a parent or gardien if you are under age. Please feel free to contact Helen or Mark Woodsford-Dean for further information on firstname.lastname@example.org