Windsurfing, Scapa

Windsurfing, Scapa, Orkney


This evening, the focus of my blog is Scapa, Orkney. The name has an interesting history. Orkney has a distinctive Norse heritage from which  the word scarfr (for cormorant) was derived. This was translated into Gaelic as sgarbh and subsequently evolved into modern English as Scapa or ‘Cormorant Isle’.

Scapa is perhaps best known for the Scapa Flow safe anchorage, principally for naval ships during wartime. It was here that weak security was penetrated by U47 in 1939 which resulted in the sinking of the Britain’s Royal Oak and the resultant loss of 833 men. A generation before this infamous event the German fleet was scuttled here in 1919. This ships graveyard provides a hunting ground for divers.

After the Royal Oak sinking the then Admiralty Chief, Winston Churchill ordered the construction of  barriers (causeways) which linked the mainland with Lamb Holm, Burray and South Ronaldsay thereby blocking submarine activity. These have become known as ‘Churchill Barriers’. Construction of the barriers was undertaken during WW2 with aid of Italian prisoners of war.

At Scarpa can also be found:

  • A fish farm (salmon).
  • Scapa whisky distillery which dates from 1885. A Lomond still is used for distillation which results in a heavy spirit augmented by use of peaty water. The Scapa range of single malts is limited and extends to a 12 year old and a 16 year old.


Scapa Whisky Distillery

Scapa Whisky Distillery, Orkney


Scapa Memorial Garden

Scapa Memorial Garden, Orkney


Elsewhere today I have:

  • Firmed up a Charles Rennie Mackintosh architecture tour of Glasgow.
  • Agreed in principle a one day Scottish Borders tour from Edinburgh for a visiting Canadian family.
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