Orkney and the Tomb of the Eagles with puking and ticks

We’re in Orkney. We caught the ferry from Aberdeen yesterday afternoon and arrived here just before midnight last night. The ferry stops in Kirkwall, Orkney a few times each week on its way to Shetland. Here’s a map showing the route we took on the ferry and also the route we plan to take back. We’ll be catching a much shorter ferry back to the mainland and then catching the train from Thurso all the way back to Aberdeen.

When we went to Shetland by ferry a couple of months ago it was relatively calm. Last night was not so. I needn’t have bothered buying dinner because I puked it all up, traumatising Daniel in the process. I didn’t make it to the toilet and had to use one of those paper bags, similar to the ones they provide on aeroplanes. I can remember hearing Daniel say, “I’m not going to look,” and then he shuffled as far away from me as he possibly could. I couldn’t wait to get off that boat and am quite pleased we’ll be catching the train home. We all felt queasy but I’m the only one who puked. Here I am prior to getting sick.


Today we went exploring and saw a fascinating archaeological site: The Tomb of the Eagles. Some pics of the scenery on the way there:





The next photo is a Bronze Age burnt mound. It was a building which was using to heat water. There’s a large pool in the centre which holds about 1000 litres of water and a nearby fire was used to heat stones, which they put in the pool to warm the water. They don’t know what the heated water was used for but two possible theories are either for boiling an entire animal like a lamb as a way to cook it or for bathing.


Nearby is a neolithic tomb where human skeletons, pottery, and various other artefacts were placed some 5000 years ago. This is the Tomb of the Eagles. Entry is via a small tunnel which you either need to crawl through or pull yourself through on a trolley.




Ben is crouched on the floor in this next photo peering into one of the caverns off to the side in the tomb where a number of skulls were found. They also found eagle skeletons here, hence the name. Ben’s mum and her partner are here on holiday with us.IMG_2096_2

After the tomb we went for lunch where I noticed what looked like a scab on the back of Elizabeth’s neck. On closer inspection it turned out to be a tick so we promptly left and made a dash for Kirkwall hospital to have it removed. Elizabeth had a good look at the tick after they plucked it from her neck. It was wriggling about with legs flailing on the end of some tweezers. I think she would have taken it home to be her pet if she’d been allowed. Here’s a pic I took of it just before it was removed. It was still quite small so I think we got it almost right away.


24 Replies to “Orkney and the Tomb of the Eagles with puking and ticks”

  1. Well done on getting the tick seen to. On Uist two weeks ago our host warned us to look out if they left what looked like a red ringed target because Lyme’s disease is endemic there. Not sure about Orkney but can’t be too careful with the precious ones, can you.

    1. Yes, I was thinking of lyme disease when I first saw the tick. Hopefully she’ll be fine but I’ll keep an eye out for any redness in the area.

      1. The couple we stayed with on Uist told us there had been several cases recently so there’s a bit of a push to increase, or re-increase, awareness. Odd, isn’t it how at that age they actually like the gross out bit!

  2. Loving your photo journal of your trips around Scotland. I can sit here with my cuppa and enjoy virtually; no ticks! (My ‘pet’ hate!)

    1. This is my first encounter with a tick. I have a strong dislike of them as well because in Australia we have particularly lethal ticks.

      1. Yes – that is always the concern. Hopefully Elizabeth will be fine, and I must say she dealt with this much better than my kids would ever have!! 🙂

  3. I had no idea there were ticks in Scotland. I don’t think I could have coped with the Tomb of the Eagles as I get claustrophobia. Just looking at your photos sent a chill up my spine.

    Looking forward to seeing more interesting photos of your trip. 🙂

    1. I think there are ticks almost everywhere but they’re not the same as the ones in Australia which can kill you. Here the worry is that they carry lyme disease.

  4. You can get tick hooks from the chemist, they look like mini plastic crow bars. I carry them in my first aid kit. Long trousers in grassy hills recommended.

      1. Luckily no, I taught Outdoor Education, so had it in case. Learnt how to take them out many, many moons ago before such inventions. Would think twice about going out in the Scottish hills without long trousers though.

  5. That’s quite the adventure. Sick and a tick. I was sea sick once. On a honeymoon in Greece. It takes the fun out of things. Hope you are feeling better. Once again, great pictures. I feel like I’m getting to know more about Scotland as you travel around the country.

  6. Oh no! I think nausea is the worst feeling in the world. Hope the return ferry is smoother. At least it’s shorter!

    1. The return ferry is only one hour and should be much calmer so I’m sure it will be fine.

  7. I read the eponymous book some years ago and have ever since wanted to visit but never managed to get so far north. I do like a good Neolithic site 😉

    Ticks are a problem in Hampshire, which is something of a hot-spot for Lyme’s too, but although our 8 y/o has picked up half a dozen of the things in the last few years, he’s been fine. I remove them with eyebrow tweezers, which are square-ended and ideal for a neat job leaving nothing behind.

    1. I haven’t seen that book before. You must definitely go and visit the place since you already know so much about it. It was well worth it. I also find these neolithic sites fascinating and this was one was particularly good. The guides in the visitor centre are very knowledgable and you can see the tools, and skulls, and other possessions of the neolithic people there. Then there’s a really nice walk – very muddy though – to the tomb. There wasn’t a single person there when we went on our walk and we had the entire tomb to ourselves.

  8. This is what you want. I’ve had to remove plenty of ticks in my life. Tweezers are bad and I’m surprised the hospital used them. I’ll not explain why! (I’m sure you can Google it…). I’m sure your daughter will be fine, though. If you remove them within 24hrs it greatly reduces your chances of Lyme’s Disease (if the tick is a carrier).

    And I’m totally sympathetic to your ferry journey…I got the ferry from Shetland back to Aberdeen and spent 16hrs in a Force 9 swell seeing my dinner over and over (until it was all gone). Not fun. But the Orkney-John O’ Groats ferry was fine.

    1. I was fine on the trip to and from the Shetlands a few months ago but the sea was calm then. It’s all in the luck of the draw. It hasn’t put me off doing it again though as I’d really like to go back to Shetland at some stage. I might skip dinner next time 🙂

  9. I do love reading about your many adventures…but not about the tick 😦 You might remember my blog about my tick episode in Norfolk when I freaked out! So glad you spotted it so early on and preventing Lyme’s Disease. I had to laugh though about you saying Elizabeth would have wanted to take it home as a pet. She is much braver than me and sounds so much like my daughter and her pets, lol 😀 Sorry for the puking. We had a rough crossing going to Jersey on the fast ferry, but managed to keep things down. I never get sea sick so was surprised. But then Rachel, you know my cure for seasickness…a pint of Stellar and a greasy hamburger 😀

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