By Bernie Bell
Last Saturday evening, we went to the Barony Hotel at Birsay for us teas.
We were talking with Davie the landlord. Davie is a mine of stories! We were talking of the dry weather and he said it was the lowest Boardhouse Loch has been since 1991. He knows this, because he built his slipway in 1991, and he wrote the date in the concrete. He hasn’t seen it since, until it’s now re-appeared, as the loch has gone down so far.
He also told us about a bloke he knows, called Billy, who is a diver and who was diving in the loch and found the foundations of some old buildings, not far from the shore, but definitely under the loch. We were puzzling as to how far back it would have to be, for people to have built on that land. Davie says that way back, what is now a loch, was pretty much just a burn, and that was probably when the buildings were put there. Then, the dam was built, to make a stronger ‘force’ for the mill, and the loch, developed.
His other tale was that there was a landowner, sometime back, who wanted to drain the loch, to use the land again. He was an ex-General or something like that – lots of money and ‘progressive’ ideas. So, he employed some men to demolish the dam, but they didn’t have the equipment, were just picking away at it, really. Then the man died, and the idea was let go. Davey was told this by a very old man he knew – over 100, some years ago. The plan to drain the loch and use the land, could even have been in living memory – well – the living memory of a very old man!
It’s rained a bit since, but it’ll take a good bit to fill the loch up again.
If you go to eat there, I recommend the salmon in brandy and orange sauce, but all the food is good – courtesy of Anne’s use of local produce and excellent cooking.
Do any other Orkney News readers have tales of what has ‘appeared’ due to the unusually dry weather?