A Natural Harbour, Quaint Village, and the Local Pub
Set in the rolling green pasture-lands of the rural wonderland of South Ronaldsay and bathed by the pristine waters of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, lies the village of St Margaret’s Hope.
It is unspoiled. There are no busy roads, traffic lights, supermarkets, vending machines, bookmakers or modern offices. It is full of old world charm, character in abundance and even the unexpected.
On an early evening sunny visit to St Margaret’s Hope we learnt about the village etiquette interpretation of the Highway Code.
Golfers have absolute right of way to the whole road. What a jolly decent thing that is.
Nestled amongst the quaint stone buildings is the local pub The Murray Arms”. Actually, it is a hotel with an array of single, double and family rooms to provide more erstwhile travellers with a welcome resting point and yet another great place to Wake up in South Ronaldsay.
In its guise as the local pub we were welcomed by cheerful Gina. In the bar we found a group that travelled from Kirkwall every Monday evening, mothers having a quick supper with their children amongst the regulars sipping ale, mixing with holiday makers and talking about anything but politics!
Amongst the constant stream of hot bar food that flowed from the kitchen were Murray’s burgers (in all their varieties of Cajun chicken, locally produced chilli or regular beef) and topping the popularity Murray’s curry served with rice, chips and a poppudum.
Judging by the clean plates returning to the kitchen we were encouraged to sit in the restaurant and how nice it was to find tablecloths as well as place-mats which often seem to have disappeared these days in a wave of bistro chic.
Gina enthused her proposition that they were not aspiring to be a 'gastro pub' but moreover a good value, home cooking place to rest and relax. As the food began to arrive we thought that the Murray Arms had exceeded their own ambition. That evening’s special was Westray Crab claws with a mixed salad and a Thai dip.
And then the unexpected: for our main course, we enjoyed that day’s hand-dived scallops from Orkney waters, served with new potatoes and an egg salad.
Well, we certainly had not expected that from a pub with such an unpretentious view of their fare.
And sticking to their home cooking regime, we finish with a scrummy sticky toffee pudding accompanied by Orkney ice cream.
As we said farewell and wandered outside we stumbled upon another delivery of live scallops heading for the kitchen.
Stepping into the sun-kissed quaintness of the utilitarian named ‘Back Road’, we were delighted to be greeted by the sight of a young lady and her pony enjoying an evening stroll through the village.
In the best possible way, when you go to St Margaret’s Hope and Wake Up in South Ronaldsay, expect the unexpected.
To book accommodation or the restaurant at the Murray Arms click here
"This church had 134 years of weddings, blessings and Sunday school; it must be Inculcated with love, the walls must exude happiness and joy." Keiko Yamaga-White November 2007