Sunday, April 06, 2014


One very bright but windy day last week, we decided to go amuse ourselves with a trip to the North West Coast of Scotland.  It's easy to get in a car,  peer out of windows, use the weather as an excuse to ooh and aah  at scenes then return home without ever having truly set foot on soil. With grim determination to be proactive, we packed our walking socks and boots, then for good measure took our hats, (the icy wind did whip up a bit of heft) put some fruit in a bag and took something to drink. There was not going to be any stopping off at any cafes along the way.

We arrived at the small fishing village of  Portskerra, parked the car and changed into our walking gear. We 'sidestepped' the slipway, it wasn't going to take us anywhere other than down to the end of a boat slipway.  Though we would be very exposed to the blasts of wind, a coastal walk looked inviting.

We strolled when gusts of wind allowed. A slow measured pace seemed a more successful way to keep our balance, or  quickly restore it.  

The next sign we saw surprised us. 
It was unexpected, not the usual sort of sign wording we've seen. Deciding that seeing was believing, off we went the way the sign pointed to, to find the Drownings Memorial half a mile away.

Here it is with names dating from the 1800's through to the early twentieth century. It lists the names of Portskerra fisher folk who perished at sea.  Carved on another information stone nearby, (not shown) together with the dates, is a long poem both in English and Gaelic. It tells in brief, the stories of all the fishermen and the tragic events that took them from their families and their community.  There is one boat and crew that survived disaster.  The boat, The Julia, is well over a hundred years old now.

You can see here the line where tides are meeting. Where tides meet can be a good place to fish. In the distance is the iconic Dounreay Dome nuclear reactor, a long time retired.  At original size, you will be able to see windmills in this picture, which are close to Dounreay.  On this journey, all the windmills we saw were locked down against the high winds and were still, there was not a twirl to be seen.

Looking towards Melvich with its fabulous sandy beach gently kissed by the water and brushed with afternoon shadows. 

The still photos make the scenes look idyllic, which, if it had not been so blustery, it would have been.  From where we stood, up on high, we couldn't find a rock or a natural cutting deep enough to give us shelter. If there had been we would have sat and calmly admired the view. 

This was a long distance shot of Dounreay and the dome from the sea, without the use of a tripod.  Even if I had brought one with me, it was unlikely it would have been used because of the strength of the wind.

Though it might have some similarities, this is not Google Earth. It is a picture looking down on the coast line rock formation which, as we retraced our steps, caught my interest.

You can see it's a bit uphill........
.... and  downhill
A window into a fisherman's store, the contents all sitting wherever they were thrown.

We started our drive home slowly along a single track road and had driven for all of two minutes when we quickly stopped here.

Here, we saw a sight rarely seen; it was surreal. Who had left it carefully placed where it was and why?  It could be a seat on which, if you took the notion, you could cogitate in the great outdoors. There was no doubt about it, it was  definitely put in a prime position. 


  All the pictures can be enlarged if you click on them.


Anonymous said...

A most enjoyable, and interesting post, with terrific pictures especially the ones showing where the tides meet. Needless to say I laughed at the last one and like you have to wonder.
It may have been blowy but otherwise it looks to have been perfect weather. I certainly wouldn't like to be there when it isn't!
Flighty xx

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great expedition, and the pictures illustrate it well. And it is good to remember those that died at sea... if just for a moment.

ZACL said...

Greetings Mr F,

Thank you for your kind comments and observations.

It was one of those bright sunny shorter days, with low temperatures and as mentioned, icy wind and lots of it. In the winter you get such days, sometimes with icy conditions, when the atmosphere is dry; what without the blasts of wind, would be called healthy Alpine weather.

Like you, I wouldn't be tempted out to an exposed coastal area, out of choice, in horrid weather conditions.

ZACL said...

Hello Shimon,

It was an interesting walk and in general, a good trip. I am glad the pictures illustrated the experience for you.

You are so right, remembrance is important. Those who perish at sea are not as much in our consciousness as those who lose their lives by other means.

Snowbird said...

What a fantastic day out, a trip I would love to have taken. Shame about the wind but hopefully you were both well wrapped up. How moving to see the names of those who drowned, I've never come across that on a beach before. I loved the views and the pic of the tides meeting.
Good grief!!! A toilet just plonked there....why??? I seen it all now!xxx

Anonymous said...

What a great walk, and, I suspect, a feeling of satisfaction from having braved the wind successfully. That's an amazing picture of the tides meeting - I've never seen it so clearly. Great photos!

... as for the final one, what can I say? I could sing, perhaps: Here we go looby-loo ... ;)

ZACL said...

Hi Snowbird,

We were very well wrapped up in all-weather gear. It was very necessary...not to forget the sunglasses, of course!

The Drownings Memorial was on land on the cliff area on which we walked. I have a medium long lens on the camera, which, could easily make you think we were closer to the actual shore at beach level than we really were. We were high above the lapping waves.

Well, the W.C. had its affect on us too, we just stopped moving when we saw it and I got out of the car to get the evidence of the weird scene. xx

ZACL said...

Hi GillyK,

You're right about our satisfaction at having done what we set out to do, come what may.

Thank you for your comments on the photos. I was happy that the meeting tides picture developed the way I saw them. I took about three pictures of the tides from slightly different angles - determined to digitally imprint the scene. All were visually clear, and the one shown, I felt did it justice.

:) - Looby Loo; definitely a loo with a view.

Vincent said...

A lovely photo-essay, conveyed the entire walk and its blowy rigours without the reader having to step outdoors.

ZACL said...

Thank you for your comment Vincent. What a thought and a treat to find you came on board and joined in our walk!

keiko amano said...


I enjoyed this post as if I were travelling through the place. It seems no one there and peaceful and quiet. And the sea! Seas are fascinating and relaxing to look. Then the end! What a surprise! This is the most hilarious post!!!

ZACL said...

Hi Keiko,

No-one was daft enough to go out for a cliff top walk on a day that was so very windy, except us. You are right, it was deserted. I am pleased you came on our walk through the pictures I posted. It is a great compliment.

I am not a sea lover, but even I have to agree with what you say, though, relaxing seas are not when there is a storm, or a fierce gale, like today. I think the sun and the height we were walking at made all the difference to how we and the camera saw the scenery.

Yes, the 'throne' and so well placed, was rather unexpected!

rinaz said...

The toilet seemed very out of place compared to the rest of the pictures, but I suppose that it would have a wonderful view to do business should it be functional :-)

ZACL said...

Hello Rinaz,

Thank you for your comment on my post.

You are absolutely right. Where the toilet is placed, would be a commanding place to do business.