First impressions, last impressions

20140719-094420-Orkney-7451I thought I’d leave until the last before commenting on the self catering cottage we had in Birsay, but frankly I could have written it on day one. We walked in and said ‘wow’ and walked out and said we wanted to kill the next people in so we could have another week. OK, maybe the last bit is a slight exaggeration, but you get my drift.

The place we are talking  about is Sea End, one half of the Cleatfurrows self-catering house. The other half is Palace End which overlooks the Earl’s Palace.  Our half overlooked, yes you guessed it, the sea. From the massive kitchen window (in the massive and well appointed kitchen) we could see the sea, the Bonxies and Arctic Terns whizzing up and down, and the people walking up and down the Brough of Birsay. If there had been Orcas passing – which there have been on many occasions, we would have had great views. And on the balmy summer evenings, not an expression you hear often on Orkney, we were able to sit on the garden wall with a cold beer and a warm telescope watching the the world go by.

20140718-215418-Orkney-7346So would I recommend this as a place to stay. Yes I would. Not only is it well located on the north west coast of mainland Orkney it is also well located in Birsay itself. One wall of the house is the boundary wall of the graveyard, so it would be the best place for telling ghost stories to your children to ensure they get a good night’s sleep. For just the two of us the house was more than big enough. An en-suite master bedroom and a separate shower and toilet meant we soon got into a his and her’s routine for the bathroom. Bunk beds in the, for us, spare room would make this a good size family unit. All the usual instructions that come with a cottage – do this, don’t do that – were well explained and clearly labelled. Even the fiendishly complex recycling was child’s play.

Our arrival was greeted by swallows in and out of a nest over the front door, and by a very welcome bottle of red in the kitchen. Our departure was signalled by the swallows fledging a barrel-load of young ready to feed up for the flight down to South Africa. (And several empties consigned to the recycling).

I would also like to say a big thank you to Sarah, the owner, for the prompt and courteous communication throughout the booking process and for dropping us a line at the last minute with latest  news of a new archaeology dig opening up which she thought might be of interest – it was.

So – would we stay here again. Most certainly and we would be happy to recommend Sea End to anyone. But the truth is that, because there is so much to see and so much to do, the chances of us coming back are limited. But if we do, Sea End will be the first property we will look to see if it’s available.

For more information visit – enjoy.