St Magnus Cathedral, The View From The Top (and half way up)

It’s funny, sometimes we don’t appreciate what is right under our nose.  I’ve been in Orkney 9 years yet have never taken the trip to the top of St. Magnus Cathedral. I’ve driven past it thousands of times and been in the cathedral for many events, but taking the spiral staircase to the top has just bypassed me. My friend Fran is the custodian of the cathedral and offered to take me up during our lunch break one day.  In all honesty, she offered well over a year ago, I guess you just can’t accuse me of rushing into things.


What a brilliant way to spend an hour, and I enjoyed it so much I could easily do it again.  On the way up you get to see the cathedral’s equivalent of ‘stuff stored in the attic’  like for example this hangman’s ladder.  What an amazing thought that something so old with such (grim) history is stored on its side somewhere halfway up the Cathedral. Lets pause for a moment to remember the poor lady from Shapinsay who was the last convicted person to walk up these steps.


A double ladder, one for the hangman, one for the person being hanged. 


Fran is so knowledgeable and was able to tell a story about every piece we looked at and every place we stopped.  I love the architecture, stories and history associated with such an incredible place.


Halfway up we stopped to wind up the cathedral clock.  This is something that’s done daily and means the winder upper has no further need to work out that day.  It’s heavy work! Fran showed me how it’s done then let me have a turn.

Which reminded me of someone. Who remembers this guy?




I stopped to take a few more pics showing how high up we were before continuing to the top.



Climbing to the top is 150 feet,thankfully we did it in stages but the stair case is windy and very narrow towards the end.  You have to hold on to ropes either side and try not to be a scardy cat. Eventually after about a million steps * you get to see this view.

The top of the tower

and of course once you’ve made the epic journey, the first thing you must do is take a selfie.  It would be rude not to.

I scratched my forehead in my sleep.  It saves me having to keep explaining to everyone who asks what I’ve done to my head. 

You can walk around the top of the tower and even on a soaking wet day, you still got an incredible view of Kirkwall.






Going back down was much easier and it was time for me to head back to work.  But I thoroughly enjoyed my trip and will definitely do it again.  Huge thank you to custodian Fran for giving up her lunch hour to show me round.  Always good fun in your company.

If you fancy a turn yourself, why not ask Santa for a gift voucher?  So long as you’ve been good.


*ok millions may be a slight exaggeration


2 thoughts on “St Magnus Cathedral, The View From The Top (and half way up)

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