10. Papa Stronsay

IMG_7504 papa stronsay ferry
The boat to Papa Stronsay (c) Duncan Hutt
P1050038 entrance to papa stronsay SAH
The entrance to the island (c) Sally Hutt

Getting to Papa Stronsay wasn’t as simple as jumping on a ferry.  Instead we had to find a monk.  It turned out that it was a specific monk we needed, Brother Dominic to be exact.  We arranged to be back at the quay for a certain time, after Mass, and we could go over to the island.  There was just one job before we could set off, to help unload a significant number of bags of pig food from their van and load it onto the boat.  So it was that we settled onto sacks of feed for our five minute journey over the sound.

IMG_7530 old farmhouse DJH
The farmhouse (c) Duncan Hutt

Brother Dominic was a New Zealander, an ex-computer programmer who had changed track to become a monk on this small outpost.  He shares the island with 7 other monks, more pigs than they should have (by his own admission), chickens and some sheep from a Stronsay farmer.  After that it is the wildlife; seals and the birds that inhabit the beach, farmland and Mill Loch that, as the name suggests, once powered a small watermill now lost under a more modern building.

IMG_7536 greenhouse DJH
An apple tree in the large greenhouse (c) Duncan Hutt

We were shown the small chapels, ornate spaces in a modern looking building; shrines that had sprung up around the old farmstead and the large greenhouse.  This warm inside space was home to fruit trees and vegetables that would otherwise struggle in such a windswept environment.

IMG_7529 chapel
The chapel (c) Duncan Hutt

This small religious community had bought the island in 1999 and since then have changed it into a training place for recruits to their particular form of Roman Catholicism. I will admit to knowing nothing prior to our visit of Transalpine Redemptorists, of the Golgotha Monastery or the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer and while vastly increased, my understanding is still a little sketchy.  It’s best to look at their own web site to find out more.  What we do know is that we owe our visit to the religious community on the island and are grateful for their hospitality, boat trip and informative tour.

P1050025 View from the west end SAH
View from Corn Graand at the western tip of Papa Stronsay (c) Sally Hutt

We were left to explore the island, walking around the vast majority of the small island in the 90 minutes before we had agreed to meet back at the quay for our return to mainland Stronsay.  The geese lifted from Mill Loch and turnstones flitted back and forth along the beach as we passed.  A sky of wispy clouds against the blue stretched the space above old ruined houses and the ancient burial cairns told of ancient people on this small space where seas and lands meet.

P1050035 East House SAH
The ruins of East House (c) Sally Hutt

1 thought on “10. Papa Stronsay

  1. Another world. I sense that one might get the same strange alien feeling that we found at the far north point of Skye.

    Liked by 1 person

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