14-Sep-2010 -- Continued from 54N-01W.
Attempting that vanishing commodity – a United Kingdom confluence point unvisited by Gordon Spence!
The night before, there had been some talk of a sunrise assault on Orkney’s only land based point, but at first light, pelting rain on the window, also referred to as “the Confluence Hunter’s snooze alarm,” quickly put an end to that plan. So it was that two hours later, with an excellent breakfast from the Flovaren Inn under our belts, and the sun back in the sky; we drove west through the centre of Kirkwall on A965, looking for the left turn into Saverock Farm.
Our previous confluence hunting along the 59th parallel had required a forty mile kayak trip into the Alaskan wilderness at Glacier Bay, where there was no need to seek a local owner’s permission. However, the day before, having seen nearby archaeological sites indicating human habitation in the area went back several millennia, we guessed someone might have had a claim on the spot for more than a few years. So we parked at the house closest to 59N 3W, and after knocking on the door, were told by a friendly young woman the land to the north was owned by Greg Harcus. She directed us to the large house we had just passed.
Our second knock of the day was answered by a handsome young man, who looked like he was not expecting any company that morning. I announced I was from “the States” (which he indicated after hearing my accent, he did not find particularly surprising), and I told him I had travelled a great distance in hopes of standing in one of his fields and taking some photographs. He replied “sure,” but after further conversation as to exactly which field was in question, he very strongly said we did not need to be in a field with any of his cattle. We assured him we would adhere to his wishes.
We returned to park again near the closest house, climbed the metal gate to enter a recently mowed field, and began walking downhill, north towards A695 and the sea. Ahead was a lower field full of cows; and consulting the GPS, I feared we did not have nearly enough distance before we would reach the wire fence. We got within the mandated 100 meters, but at the edge of the cow pasture, were 199 feet short of the ten zeroes.
While we took our pictures, we became the centre of attention for many young calves and their protective mothers. The resident bull remained nearby and stationary, but his overall demeanour left little doubt who was in charge of this field…
As we returned to our car, the young Mr. Harcus (perhaps having second thoughts about crazy strangers wandering his land) came out to check on us. Gathering we were the first people he had encountered seeking 59N 3W, I wrote out a copy of the DCP website address for him. When I mentioned this one spot on his farm might be more famous than he realized, he commented he hoped this would not be the start of hundreds of people showing up at his door. Based on the project’s 16 year history to date, I told him that was highly unlikely. [After later re-reading previous visit reports, I am sure when Mr. Harcus checked out the DCP site, he was none too happy to read about left-open gates and close encounters with his cattle!] On his behalf, I strongly encourage future hunters to seek permission first, and, if you hope to capture all zeroes, try to schedule a time when the resident bull and his herd are away from Orkney on holiday…
Previous visitors have well documented many of the interesting sights of Orkney, but I will mention one more, which we experienced in steady 30mph winds and fast changing, alternating periods of sunshine and rain – Yesnaby Castle, a two-legged sea stack just south of the Brough of Bigging. Definitely worth the short hike!
Continued at 58N-04W.