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Pub Visit - Scotland

Wednesday 10th June 2015

Bob Thompson

Whilst researching this article I found it odd that this likeable pub had been open for “over 30 years”. It seems much older than that.

Ferry Inn 1It’s the nearest of the three pubs of Stromness to the ferry pier and I can’t for the life of me comprehend that there wasn’t a pub on this site since much earlier times. Some clarification would be gratefully received.

There are two pubs in the town serving cask beers and they are both good. Earlier Linda and myself had wetted our lips at the Stromness Hotel, please see separate article. We were visiting the Ferry Inn second using the simple expedient that it was the closest to the ferry and we were travelling on the 16.45 sailing. I must explain that we arrived in the town on the bus which stops outside the ferry terminal.

I hope I’m not doing it a disservice by saying that it has a rather plain white-painted exterior. In contrast it is very homely inside. We walked in the door nearest the water. There is a small seated area here but we kept on to the main bar room. Here we took a seat and I looked at the bar counter to. It is quite long and made of wood. In front were a number of high-backed chairs.

Ferry Inn 2There are wooden floorboards and in fact, wood is heavily used in this pub. It covers the ceiling which has cross spars to give the impression you are on an old ship. There is a central column that is also clad in wood that has a lovely circular brass shelf around it. Some of the walls are also covered in wooden panelling. All of this is varnished and looks as if it is polished; the effect is very pleasing.

One has a builder’s plate from Ferguson Brothers of Port Glasgow, so it is from a boat rather than a locomotive as they were Clyde shipbuilders who constructed many inter-island ferries.

Where we were seated there was a combination of a fitted curved stuffed leather banquette and some cushioned pew-like cushioned seats. All of these had loose wooden tables and chairs facing. In this area where we were seated the walls were painted white and had several framed posters hanged, along with a number of ship’s charts. A couple of barrels dangle from the ceiling by knotted ropes. The far wall accommodated two dartboards with a flat screen television between them, hopefully not all in use at the same time!. There was also a ship’s wheel on one wall, all very nautical.

Ferry Inn 3When we visited there were three hand pumps (see below) that dispensed the following cask beers. From Swannay Brewery (Elvie, Orkney) there was Scapa Special (4.2%) and under their alternative Highland Brewery name there was Orkney Session (3.9%). The third offering was Orkney Brewery (Quoyloo, Orkney) Dark Island (4.6%). I understand they have increased their hand pumps up to five, so more beers in future.

At the far end of the bar room described above there is a dining room that offers a full menu.

It also must be mentioned that this pub is a true inn and has 17 letting rooms, all en-suite, some of which are located in a property over the road. We then left by the rear entrance that is just a short walk across a car park to the Tourist Office and Ferry Terminal.

Ferry Inn 4As we were boarding the MV Hamnavoe along the elevated walkway we noticed a three-masted sailing ship alongside. This was the “Thalassa”, a barquentine registered in the Netherlands.

I recalled that a Dutchman had been in the Flattie Bar of the Stromness Hotel earlier and he was telling the barmaid that he was working on a ship taken passengers around the Western Isles and Orkney to visit whisky distilleries.

The ship looked very impressive and when I got home I looked it up. It does week-long tours leaving from a Scottish port on the west coast and travels to the islands visiting distilleries. It seemed to be extremely good value for a full-board holiday, I am interested.

Ferry Inn 5Typical of the journeys it must undertake were represented by that ferry crossing to the Scottish mainland. We passed the magnificent vertical cliffs on the island of Hoy, the highest in the UK. Please see the photograph. The cliffs are so tall there was cloud at the top. Please note the sea stack “Old Man of Hoy” in the distance. From the relative tranquillity of the Sound of Hoy we were quickly into the Pentland Firth, said to have the roughest waters around the UK and it didn’t disappoint in that respect.

So, returning to the real subject of this article. The Ferry Inn is a great place to drink some good cask beer.

Important Information:

The Ferry Inn, 10 John Street, Stromness, Orkney KW16 3AD. Tel: 01856 850280

Hours: Summer: Monday-Thursday 10.00-23.00; Friday-Saturday 10.00-24.00;
Sunday 09.30-23.00
Winter: Monday-Thursday 16.00-23.00; Friday 16.00-23.30; Saturday 10.00-23.30;
Sunday 10.00-23.00

The ferry to Scrabster leaves twice a day in winter and up to four times during the lighter months. There is a direct bus to Kirkwall every hour most of the time.
This is also the departure port for the small ferries to the islands of Graemsay and Hoy.