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Happy Valley - one of Orkney's jewels!
Posted on 25 May 2012
Happy Valley, Stenness
It appears odd that the Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership would be involved in Happy Valley, which is in Stenness, but one of the key projects within the Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme was a project to help create a nature reserve so local people and visitors can enjoy and learn about wildlife. However, the original project plan to find a site around the shores of Scapa Flow proved unrealistic.
The roof on the house. It is a mixture of flagstone and metal sheeting. This will be taken off and re-flagged. The windows will be replaced and additonal small windows put on the far side of the roof.
Happy Valley came up in discussion and seemed to be the best option to progress a nature reserve. The site was gifted to the Council in the mid 2000s by Professor Isbister, following the death of Edwin Harrold who did so much to plant up the land and welcome people onto it to enjoy it over the 50 years he lived there. The possibility of SFLPS support for work at Happy Valley was discussed with the Friends of Happy Valley, and the Council who owns the site. They were all very positive about the possibility. We then asked our main funder – the Heritage Lottery Fund – if this would be possible and were delighted when they agreed.
The room behind the green door was Edwin's workshed and housed hundreds of tools, fan belts, motors, bicycle parts and all other kinds of wonders. He was a very practical man and made use of all kinds of materials.
The work we are supporting includes wildlife surveys, access work, repairs to the banks of the burn where the path is being eroded and habitat creation (including developing a wildlife pond). In addition, we are also going to support work to repair and re-roof the cottage in a historically sensitive way. The roof is a mixture of flag, tin, asbestos and chicken wire and is beginning to fall into disrepair. The two chimneys are also beginning to show their age and are sagging a bit and they will be rebuilt as will the gable end.
One of the gable ends. You can just about see how the stones are jutting out just below the chimney. If this is not rebuilt it will be a matter to time before the wall collapses.
The builders are due to come on site in June so with this is mind we’ve worked with The Friends of Happy Valley to empty the cottage so nothing would get damaged. It felt strange clearing out Edwin’s belongings and we were constantly reminded of the man who had created Happy Valley. Many of the items were boxed up and put into storage until such time as they can be put back. His record collection, tools, papers, photographs, some crockery, clothing and tilley lamps were all retained as was his gas cooker and some of the chairs.
One of the chimneys. You can see how they are in need of repair.
Here, are just a few photos of the cottage as it looks now. By the end of the summer the building will be sound again but will retain its unique character.
Posted on 25 May 2012