In 2017, after retiring, John and Gill Foster opened the Orkney Tryke Tour, providing an experience like no other and a very original way to visit the island. “We both have a lifelong interest in Motorcycling and History (which Orkney has in abundance). We decided that we wanted others to share the same exciting experience of the wind in your face as you travel around the unique, beautiful and fascinating sites of Orkney.” And I loved that, therefore and thank’s to John and his generosity and support, I got the chance to ride through Orkney and explore all its History.
I met John on Kirkwall Pier, and honestly I couldn’t miss him: Standing next to his extraordinary vehicle, he welcomed me with a warm smile and the right outfit for me not to freeze on the tryke. Once all covered up with a wind and water proof jumpsuit, he handed me a full helmet with headphones and a microphone so we could communicate while driving.
We started this personalized tour with Corrigall Farm Museum, a traditional ‘but and ben’ laid out as a typical Orkney farmhouse with a traditional peat fire helps to recreate the atmosphere of times gone by. The sun was shining and John started to explain to me how life was back then. It was very interesting to see how life in Orkney evolved and the importance of the heritage.
After that, we drove to Skara Brae prehistoric village, one of the best preserved groups of prehistoric houses in Western Europe and firstly uncovered by a storm in the winter of 1850. The craziest information for me is that only 10% of this village has been discovered. This 5000 years old village offers the possibility to understand how people were living at that time and how well organized their society was. A lot of different artifacts have been discovered as well as furniture and paths you can admire in the visitor center.
Very close to this site stands the Skaill House, the finest 17th Century mansion in Orkney. “Today, after careful restoration work, the house is open to the public and entry is included in a joint ticket with Skara Brae, which is just a 200m walk away. Skaill House has been accredited by Visit Scotland as a four star visitor attraction. There are many rooms to explore and stories to uncover. Visitors can experience a family home as it was in the 1950s, and discover the items collected by the family since the 17th Century. Neolithic and Iron Age finds, Captain Cooks’s dinner service, the Bishop’s bed , and Stanley Cursiter paintings are a few of the many fascinating items on exhibition here.”
After a short coffee break and some warmth, we jumped back on the Tryke before heading towards the Standing Stones of Stenness, one of the most famous site in Orkney. The enormous Stones of Stenness are all that remains of a great stone circle on an ancient ceremonial site. Facing the sea, this site is impressive and almost mystical.
After that, John drove up to a beautiful viewpoint of which I unfortunately don’t remember the name. It was a breathtaking place to end the day and to get a bit more of the Orkney feeling before saying goodbye.
This experience was great, John is a skilled and friendly guide who gave me the will to see more of the island. I truly recommend Orkney Tryke Tour if you’re visiting and wants to step out of your comfort zone.