Friday, 19 September 2014

MONDAY WITH THE HOME FLEET

On the Ferry to Lyness


A grey day but dry and breezy; we caught the ferry from Houton to Lyness on Hoy. It was a forty-five minute crossing on a choppy sea. We looked out across the grey waters of Scapa Flow. We were sailing over the 23 remaining wrecks of the 40 strong German Fleet who, under orders, scuttled themselves in 1919.

This part of Orkney was home to the British Fleet in 1914-18 and 1939-45. The war being centred on the Atlantic shipping conveys by 1940 12,000 personnel were stationed at Lyness.

The Visitors Centre is a treasure trove of all kinds of paraphernalia and equipment and memento’s and clothing from both periods.

The trail takes one round the Naval Base and imagines what might have been
One of the huge tanks that once held 15,000 tons of fuel oil now contains interesting boats and tackle used in the base. There is film footage from   1940’s projected on one of the tank’s walls.

And then a trail takes you round the base which with map in hand you get a clear sense of the scale of the place which boasted several churches, a cinema and hundreds of accommodation huts. En route there are guns and sections of torpedo nets and propellers propped up on show. The slipways and piers are still visible and the building that was headquarters and communications centres still stands high above the base on a hill.


All in all the former Navel Base at Lyness is a fascinating and memorable place.