I slept in and then spent the morning walking along the beach. At 11:30 I joined Teenie and her son on the drive to church, where we met her husband and her daughter. I was surprised at how full the church was; Teenie explained that in the summer its a joint service with both the Baptist and Church of Scotland attending, so around 100 people. They take turns leading the service, and this week was the Baptist church, and Teenie and her husband Michael were the music leaders, with Michael leading the prayers. It was such a lovely service, and quite different than a Catholic Mass. First, an opening prayer, then two songs, then a prayer time when you were asked to pray for specific things and then giving silent prayer time, two more songs, then two young women who had started a company called Go go Olive spoke. Its based in Zimbabwe, and teaches local women how to knit and create stuffed animals, which are now sold in shops around the world [one older woman told me afterwards that she heard Prince George had one!], then one final song, and it was time for tea and cakes. It was something special to be in a church where every single person was singing. And the social hour afterwards was really nice; a few people came up and started talking to me, and later Michael introduced me to his mother and a few other ladies, who immediately patted a chair and invited me to sit down and talk with them. I'm really glad I went.
Afterwards, I went down the beach again since it was low tide, and found a lot of seaglass and these enormous shells! I'm hoping they make it home in one piece. Then Teenie drove me to the start of the West Westray Walk, which is six miles long, and then it would be four miles back to the village but there was one point where you could just walk four miles and then two back to the village, whatever I decided I could call and a get a ride back if it was too much. I happily thought when I set out that I'd walk the full six miles to the lighthouse....
The walk started out before the cliffs, just walked along the shoreline. At times the path went through a fenced in field, and then you had to climb over one of these:
Eventually the cliffs began and that is when I could see my final destination...that teeny dot over on the left, Noup Head Light:
Now if the path had stayed like this:
I would've walked the whole way. But...when they say cliff walk, they mean cliff walk, as in the edge of the cliff is two feet from the path, and at one time you crossed this plank and there was a rope, which I assume you were supposed to hold onto in case you fell. Looking back at where I've been:
When I wasn't comtemplating jumping the barbed wire fence into the sheep fields, it was a pretty walk, with lots of birds around and interesting flowers. These guys look like gulls but they are fulmers:
I never saw another person while I was on my walk, and when I noticed a footpath up ahead that would take you to the road to walk back to the village, I decided to forego the lighthouse and more cliffs and cut back to the village. Of course what do I see when I'm turning onto the footpath? This sign...which had it been back where I started might've been helpful:
And then...the highlight of the day...the puffins! Graham from Westraak Tours picked me up, and I was the only one so it was a private tour. We went down the coast to a stack (rock sticking out of the water) where he said the puffins fly in to roost overnight. They spend all day long in the ocean, catching fish, and only come onto land at night to sleep. Graham was full of knowledge; he explained that its like the puffins have an internal clock, they always start coming to land about 30 minutes before sunset and by 15 minutes after sunset, they are all in for the night. And they always arrive on Westray on April 15, every single year, even in leap years!
As we are walking out to the cliff head, I saw my first puffin!
He was just peeking out, so its hard to see his little head. And soon there were more:
Those guys were heading into their burrow for the night. Puffins either sleep in natural stone ledges, or they burrow into the ground in a hole that looks like a rabbit hole. This is the stack, and by the end of the night on the left was full of puffins in their little burrows.
We sat down and spent about an hour just watching these guys:
They make a funny noise, gruuunnnn, like a groan, but mostly were quiet. They kept playing follow the leader, hopping around on the ledge:
I'm pretty sure they wanted to come home with me :) They are just adorable, and I'm soooo glad I got to see them and learn more about them. It was a perfect ending to the day.
Today Graham is picking me up again for a full day tour of Westray, before dropping me off in the evening for the ferry to Papa Westray, or Papay as the locals call it. Right now the sun is shining, though there is rain the forecast...I hope it will hold out long enough to get most of the tour in!