By Bernie Bell
I’d had a bad night – didn’t sleep much – so we thought a gentle stroll along the sand at Skaill Bay would be just right – but – we didn’t think to check the tide times and arrived to find the tide right in, with the sea crashing against the stones. As I don’t cope well with walking on boulders, we walked along the path at the top of the bank instead, which gave us good views of the surfers paddling about and riding the waves – not as casually as the Eiders do though – up, and over – making their ‘woo-woo’ noise all the time.
Farther out in the Bay, there were some huge waves, and there was one man who paddled right out, caught the biggest waves, stood on his board, and rode the waves right back in, zig-zagging all the way. Neither of us had ever seen that in real life before – what a sight! When he finished his second, stupendous, sweeping ride, we gave him a round of applause – not that he knew, but still…..
And – Mr. Man, if you’re reading this – WOW – that was a sight to see! How it must feel, is, for me, unimaginable – WHOOOO- HOOOOO!
Watching him was just about equalled by watching big waves actually bursting through the Hole O’ Rowe….https://photos.orkneycommunities.co.uk/picture/number2011.asp
We don’t often walk along the top of the bank, and there was much of interest – an Alien among the stones….
Then approaching the main path to Skara Brae – there used to be a sit-ootery, which is now falling into the sea – bit by bit, year by year….
Walking along the path, we could see how this would also have been the fate of Skara Brae, but for the diligent and constant maintenance of the sea defences by Historic Environment Scotland – our membership fee is worth it, even if just for that!
So much of this stretch of the coast is being eaten away, I was thinking that all sorts of interesting things might emerge. Only recently, local archaeologist Sigurd Towrie found what could be a previously unsuspected Neolithic settlement site. https://archaeologyorkney.com/2021/02/06/decorated-rock-discovered-at-orkneys-bay-of-skaill/
What more might be revealed? The sea taketh away, and the sea giveth.
We carried on as far as the fence surrounding Skara Brae, which has remained open to local visitors as the islands were in Level 3 restrictions. We didn’t go in, as we’d approached from an irregular direction! It was still good to be able to look at it over the fence…..
Normally, at this time of year the site would already be busy, but yesterday – no one there.
As well as crashing waves, a Superb Surfer, and ancient archaeology, we saw the first Sand-martin we’ve seen this year, and the first Wheatear ( OK, I can’t resist it – v. juvenile, I know…….but …. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/wheatear)
Then on the way home – the first swallow!!!! Before we know it, they’ll be lining up on the wires outside our house, feeding their young ones, as they do every year…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/09/08/and-i-think-to-myself-what-a-wonderful-world/