Monday, 12th November 2012
WEATHER OUTLOOK: Becoming wet and windy. Tonight: Some rain. Lighter winds.
Sandness Fishing Station
Latitude/Longitude: 60.3042°N 1.6644°W
HU 187 578
I’ve been driving back and forth along Sandness coast trying to locate the site of the old Haaf fishing station. There are several beaches – some just sand - I reject these and finally settle on a stone-strewn beach with the remnants of an old pier and a few stone buildings. The light is starting to go and I need to make a decision or give up. Out to sea, the bay is well protected by the long flat grass-topped islands either side, the stone beach would be fine for drying fish, and it would be easy to pull the boats from the shore across the grey sand pebbled beach and onto the grass bank. No sign of noosts or fishing lodges; perhaps one of the old stone buildings might have been a fishing station.
Studying the landscape, roofless croft-house ruins are dotted along the headland. I wish I could read the landscape – pitted and worked, stones lie in heaps, some tall and solitary. A signpost shows coastal walks either way, left to the site of old water mills. There has been habitation here for a very long time. Beside the pier piles of large rocks lie dark with wet seaweed.
The journey here, along a narrow road, winding through empty brown moorland, makes the place seem remote, but there must be a reasonable sized population. I passed a shop and a school, a scattering of quite large houses - old and new - as well as the traditional ‘butt and bens’, and there’s the Anderson Mill, here since the 1890’s. Specialising in wool spun from native Shetland sheep, they must employ a local workforce to make the jumpers that are shipped to Japan and America.
Perhaps I feel the solitude of the place because it’s beginning to get dark as I walk onto the beach. There is a keen wind blowing. I seek shelter down amongst the larger boulders against a turf bank, and watch the sea.
|Sketch, Oil on board|
Low-lying outcrops of rocks in grey-green sea, waves surging behind, breaking white-washed; flashes of turquoise, sand-coloured as it tumbles onto the shore. The surface ruffles with wind gusts, shadows flow - dark then light. There are the usual watchful seals, two dipping under, rolling, surfacing. Not much bird life in evidence, an unseen snipe calling.
|Sketch, Oil on board|
Steel-grey sky, the rain comes and goes, returning more persistently. Twilight; straining to see; once again I can’t make out the colours I’m using anymore. But in some ways these are the best times for painting. Car headlights sweep past me, house lights at the far end of the bay. It’s cold. Time to pack up, time to go home. Tomorrow I leave to start the return journey to Somerset.
|Water sample and findings|