Nestling under the hills of Hoy and breasting strong tidal currents, Graemsay is one of Orkney’s smallest inhabited islands. From the ‘Hoy High’ lighthouse Jane Franklin scanned the horizon in vain for her husband’s lost ships. Of the sea around ‘Hoy Low’ Robert Louis Stevenson observed: ‘The water is a sort of dark purple with here and there a streak of emerald marking the position of some sandy shoal.’ – Bryce Wilson
It’s so easily bypassed by visitors looking for the hills of Hoy and the sands of Rackwick, but Graemsay is one of the most delightful islands anyone could wish to visit.
Bryce Wilson sets the scene so well in a beautiful book, rich in stories.
“Seals sing on the skerries, lark and lapwing trill and call, and wild flowers blossom by the roadside. Happy hours are spent around the shores and the fine sandy bay, hunting for groatie-buckies or fragments from an ancient wreck, and pondering the evidence of times past, for Graemsay has many tales to tell.”
In an appendix on the island’s natural history, Effy Everiss who lived at Windywaas for nearly twenty years writes:
“The diversity of wildflowers in the verges is probably the most continuous and rich of any found in Orkney.”
It is, she says, a “wild Garden of Eden.”
Bryce’s brother Len has set out some stories of a journey in a Graemsay yole, and of fishing days, for lythes, sillocks and cuithes, and with mackerel lines and lobster creels.
Now there’s an opportunity for us all to take the journey online from Stromness, out of the harbour and across Hoy Sound, and enjoy a walk among Graemsay’s roadsides of wild flowers, or along some of its six miles of coastline with their fine views, and Sandside Bay as well.
Katy Firth in association with Stromness Museum has put together an exhibition of 360 degree photospheres of a visit to the island. With each of the images, you can turn it round a full 360 degrees, to see the full range of views from your vantage point. You can go direct to the exhibition, and she is also going to provide online guidance as to how to make the best use of it.
Katy’s guidance will be on the morning of Sunday 6 September at 10.30 am in Graemsay Ahead, for which she will be joined by some Graemsay residents and friends for more background about scenes of the island.