Culture

A Close Shave!!!

By Bernie Bell

Pics by Steve Davey

As Mike is still working at home and is pretty much stuck indoors all day he very much appreciates his after-work constitutional, not only for the opportunity to get some air but also the potential to meet up with neighbours along the way.  One fine evening, end of August, he met neighbour-man Steve with Alfie-The-Dog and Steve told him of something exciting, though disconcerting, which had happened to him that day. 

It’s best if I tell the tale as Steve told it…..

Steve and Alfie were walking from the Northside area of Birsay along the cliffs from Skipi Geo, enjoying the views.  Alfie on his lead, as the cliffs are high and there are rabbits, and, as it turns out, stoats! 

Steve saw a very decrepit old sign, and, wondering why it had been put there in the first place, took a photo…

He carried on walking along the cliff-top, when he heard a roaring sound which he describes as being like jets passing in the distance, turned, and saw that a section of the cliff had slipped into the sea!  The sign was still there, but there had been a land-slip from underneath the edge.

As you can imagine – this shook him up a bit – he’d been standing right there, moments before, taking photos!

He now has two photos of that stretch of cliff – Before and After.

Notice the heap of soil and stone at the base of the cliff, and the muddy area of sea which had, minutes before, all been part of that cliff.

It’s often the case that a cliff-top looks fine, you walk past it, look back, and can see how much it’s under-cut.

It’s something I nag Mike about – going near cliff edges.  If I’m there I lay the law down, but I’m deeply suspicious of what he gets up to when he’s out on his own!

Steve’s tale is interesting and exciting, but could also serve as a warning and reminder to folk  to – BEWARE OF CLIFF EDGES!  That’s probably what the old sign used to say! 

I advised him to let the authorities know – not sure who – maybe the Council, and if they don’t deal with such things, they should know who does.

Remember I mentioned stoats?  Steve also caught a pic. of one – Alfie was going mad – straining at the leash to get to it. He’s a Cockapoo – a combination of two breeds of working dog.  Imagine what it was like for him to smell stoat, then see one popping up, sticking it’s tongue out at him!

I advised Steve to report the stoat sighting too – sightings can now be reported directly using the interactive map on the Orkney Native Wildlife website at https://www.orkneynativewildlife.org.uk/report .

A lot can happen when you go for a quiet walk in Orkney!!!!

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