Orkney is an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, about 16 km from the coast of Caithness, comprising some 70 islands, of which 20 are inhabited, the largest being simply called Mainland. It is now also the subject of the latest region design by Sombre Nyx called Endless 58-58N – in recognition of both her Endless region builds and Orkney’s northerly latitude (58º 58′ north).
Presenting an archipelago within an area just 256m on a side is not easy, but Endless 58-58N does so quite magnificently. True, there are off-sim surrounds that can help give the sense of depth to a location, however, how well they work can be a matter of debate. Here, by combining them with a hazy Windlight environment, Sombre has created a setting that perfectly captures the sense of being within a group of islands caught within the hazy coolness of the North Atlantic.
Thus Endless 58-58N is an engaging representation of Orkney’s gentle rugged beauty, with the focus on the South Isles as then encompass the natural basin of Scapa Flow, once the home of Britain’s Grand Fleet, and the place where the German Imperial German Navy was scuttled in 1918, the vessels that could not be salvaged becoming – along with a number of sunken British ship – a popular dive spot.
That the region appears to be a representation of Scapa Flow and the larger islands surrounding it comes not only from region’s introductory note card, by by the shape of the largest island in the region, which has the look of part of Mainland, Orkney’s largest island. Also, the tall finger of rock that rises from the south-west side of the second largest island carries with in a suggestion of The Old Man of Hoy, another of the islands that surround the bay.
Orkney has a long history of occupation dating back to Mesolithic and Neolithic times. Much evidence of this can still be found among the island, including the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar. To reflect this, Endless 58-58N includes its own standing stones, watching over the sheep that graze on the slopes below them.
There is no set route to exploring the region – from the landing point, visitors can wander where they will. As with Orkney and the wilds of Caithness, this is an open, rolling setting with few trees, but with coastal areas raised in hard, rugged cliffs. A small fishing wharf with piers and boats sits at the foot of one of these cliffs, just over a cottage-topped hill from the landing point. A single road runs back from this little port to where a deck sits out over the waters of the bay, offering a place to sit and appreciate the view.
Getting to the other two islands of the region is a case of flying, there being no obvious ferry or rowing boat to take. Do note, however, that there is a separate parcel to the south-west of the region sitting between the large island and its two small neighbours that has ban lines active, so care should be taken in that area.
Endless 58-58N is a region that deserves to be seen first-hand; minimal yet rich in detail, perfectly set within its windlight environment and with subtle celebrations of Orkney’s history, it is genuinely a delight to visit and photograph. Keep an eye out for the local seals as well!
With thanks to Shawn for the pointer!
- Endless 58-58N (Haraiki Bay, rated Adult)