Interesting Finds At Mill Sands

By Bernie Bell

Mill Sands in Tankerness, is named after the nearby mill .  I mentioned it briefly, in this piece….

The mill was becoming dilapidated, and on our most recent visit to Mill Sands, I was pleased to see that someone is renovating it, and taking great care to include the old materials. The old, stone, roofing  flags are all lined up, ready for re-roofing.

It’s good to see the old buildings being brought back to life, rather than being left to fall to pieces.

Mill Sands Bell

The cottage just down the road from the mill has also been renovated.  It’s now a private dwelling called ….Mill House!

There is a public pathway up to the left of Mill House, which takes you past the Loch of Tankerness.  The path was extremely wet when we were there – it has been a wet winter, and the wettest February on record for Orkney – it wasn’t so much a case of a path becoming a burn, as a path becoming a pool!  It was very heavy-going, alternating between deep, thick mud and pools of water, but we were rewarded by the sight of a female Hen harrier, swooping low over the shore of the loch.

Loch of Tankerness Bell

And now, I’ll finally get round to Mill Sands itself.  Across the road from Mill House, you can cut down to the water side, then, to walk the bay, head right.

It’s one of those beaches which is particularly good for finding bits of old crockery, glass, and interestingly shaped stones.

We have previously found a complete glass bottle, with the words P C Flett & Co on it….

old glass bottle Bell

Flett being an Orkney name, I googled to see if I could find any info. about these particular Fletts. All I could find, were bottles and labels being sold on eBay!  In these ads. for old jars and bottles,  P C Flett is mentioned as being based in Mounthoolie Lane, Kirkwall, but that was all I could find. Do any Orkney News readers have more information?

We intend to keep our bottle – it’s a bit of local history, worth more to us than £17.50, and, there’s also the fact that we found it, out on a walk.

I found this bit of a jar, which looks like it contained “Embr…ocation” – “excellent for brok..en” ??? and “sprai..ns”?

Remember embrocation? That cure all, usually evil-smelling concoction.  I shudder at the memory.

fragment of old medicine jar Bell

My ‘prize’ weird shaped stone, is this one…

stone on beach with lines Bell

Is the shaping natural, or was it shaped by people, if so, when and by whom? And, what for?

I’d say this one has definitely been purposely shaped, and there are marks of working on the end – what was it being prepared for? Or, what was it part of? And how did it end up in the sand of Mill Sands?

stone on beach Bell

Someone had been playing……..

Installation - With Mull Head Bell

Installation – With Mull Head

Just down from the ‘installation’, down by the edge of the sea, in among the seaweed, I saw an otter!!!  My second otter this year.  It’s an ottery kind of place – small stones, seaweed, sandy bits.

And, to see us on our way, a rainbow…….

rainbow over Mill Sands Bell

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6 replies »

  1. A shame you missed the boat nausts above the shoreline, visible from the road when you know to look for them

  2. Ah, Embrocation or as I remember that wonderful smell of ‘Winter Green’ in the changing room in my Rugby Club on any freezing Saturday afternoon in January with the wind blowing straight out of Loch Long and across the Clyde to the Battery Park bringing constant snow/sleet showers and the hypothermic backs wondering why we forwards seemed to be having so many scrums, those were the days. Rugby players young and old will know exactly what I mean.

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