I just love the unexpectedness of walks along a shore. You never know what you may come across with flotsam and jetsam being washed up, or folk making their own art exhibits.
On the beach near Skara Brae (a Neolithic village now managed by Historic Scotland) the beach is often adorned with modern day attempts at the stone houses, or at stone circles.
I love picking up driftwood, stones and shells along the shoreline and place them on windowsills and bookcases in my house. Throughout the Spring and Summer each year I return finds from previous years to the shore and replace them with new ones.
The beaches on Graemsay are all different, the beach at Sandside Bay is sandy with shingle. Depending on winter gales and spring and autumn tides sometimes it’s sand scattered with shingle and sometimes it’s more shingle with a sprinkling of sand. I love looking at the patterns the tide has made, or arrangements of stones shimmering in the water.
On the other side of the old Sandside Pier is a “shell beach” scattered with cold-water coral (merle) and shells. It fascinates me as both beaches are separated by the pier and yet the sandy beach rarely has any shells upon it. It almost seems as though there are traffic cops under the sea directing sand to the left and shells to the right!
Each day the tide brings new finds, sometimes it’s ship buoys, last year we had a dead whale washed up – unfortunately none of the authorities would dispose of it so we had to wait some weeks before it decomposed and got washed out to sea again!
On the beach near the Hoy Low Lighthouse fragments of crockery are washed up from the wreck of the “Albion”. This ship was wrecked in 1866 to the West of Graemsay. It was carrying emigrants and a cargo of pottery from Liverpool in England to America. A Graemsay man, Joseph Mowat, lost his life trying to rescue survivors, and is buried in the Graemsay Kirkyard.
The pottery that washes up on the Point of Oxan beach at Hoy Low varies from glazed fragments, to unglazed “fruit” – tiny lemons, oranges and the like that would have adorned (one presumes) the lids of tureens as part of a grand dinner service.
So I just love wandering along the shore line to see what each day brings!