Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Beachcombing in Dalmore..

Some might think that with all the various tasks entrusted to us,the cows,the peats,the harvest and some others(more of this later),we had little time of our own - not so! Like any child living next to the sea,I spent long periods on the beach at Dalmore("traigh") or down in the creeks and coves("geodha"),sometimes in the Ghearraidh,but more often on the bit of coast between Dalmore and Dalbeg.Here the surge of the waves was easier to deal with than in the Ghearraidh,which was/is a very dangerous place. On a calm day,nothing could be more exciting than seeing what might have been washed up along that golden strand.I was the sole beachcomber,and a strange shaped bottle,a dark dense wooden block or just a simple fish box would spark my imagination. I recall the time when, for no reasons that one could fathom, a great many dead puffins were washed up on our beach,with no obvious injuries and still looking very beautiful with their multicoloured beak,which conferred on them the acronym "sea parrot". For weeks they kept being washed up,and I can tell you it made me sad to think, that the first time I had seen this bird,it was dead. However,I was fortunate to see the puffins( Tammie Norrie ) at close quarters when in 1983 I spent 2 weeks on St.Kilda with the National Trust for Scotland in one of their work parties.Beautiful St.Kilda and its beautiful puffins!
What was of great interest to me at that time,and mammon too was involved,was the large number of metal floats coming ashore on the beach,or found bobbing about in some "geodha"(creek)nearby. These were the floats from the fishing nets,used by the boats out at sea. They were a dull silver in colour, perfectly spherical,diameter about 10 inches and made from anodised steel (I think). I could harvest maybe 60 of them within a couple of weeks, and the town tinker called to buy them from me at a shilling each.He sold them on to the Stornoway fishermen,at a profit,of course. This was a lucrative "sideline",as the floats kept coming ashore.
I have a large scale map of the Carloway area,surveyed in 1852 by two officers of the Royal Engineers.It is a great achievement in map making,very detailed and with every feature named in Gaelic. With the help of this map and Dwelly's Gaelic dictionary(what a man he was!),I noted that there were six named "geothan"from Dalmore round to Dalbeg,and strange and interesting are some of their names.Back then I didn't know what they were called,and I'm pretty damned sure that there is no one today who knows, or cares
"Geodha an Uillt" is the cove of the burn.
"Geodh'an t-Siliche" - the meagre(small)creek.
"Geodha Sporain" - the purse cove.
"Geodh'a' Gharaidh" - the garden cove.
"Geodha na Mna" - the wife's cove.
"Geodh'na Muic" - the seal's creek.
You must admit that a couple of these are interesting "coves",and one wonders how they came by their names. Just behind this short bit of coastline lies Cnoc na Moine (the little hill of the peats) My uncle Murchaidh Shoudie used to say to us (and later my daughter,Carolyn) that it was at Cnoc na Moine that the cattle could find shelter ("fasgath"). He would say,"Cnoc na Moine,Cnoc na Moine - far a`faigh a bho fasgath".
One day I was doing a patrol of the "geodhan",and thinking how finding a couple of metal floats would reward my efforts,when,as I looked down into this narrow cove,I glimpsed a large yellow object being battered about in the surf. There was a tube attached to the "thing ", with a red or orange light flashing away at its top. Closer inspection of this strange Quatermass inspired object revealed that this was some kind of inflatable craft,made of rubber or canvas.There was a "little igloo" on top which maybe a couple of people could crawl into. I was very excited at this my greatest find of jetsom. By reading the various writings on the craft,I came to realise that I had found something of national importance.It was an RAF survival dingy,big,yellow and lights a-flashing.I dragged it out of the "geodha" (a bloody heavy beast,if I remember rightly)and deposited it above the high water mark, There was a telephone number engraved on a brass plate on its side. Shonnie and I went down to the Carloway PO and Shonnie made the call. This was an RAF exercise that had gone a wee bit wrong, but no one was injured . A large RAF lorry came over from Uig to pick up their dingy(following my directions,I may say),and later on I received my £10 reward. Beachcombing was proving so good that I caught Shonnie at Geodha Sporain,but he said that he was just looking for a lamb.

1 comment:

thecroft said...

Looking forward to tales of St Kilda. My girlfriend and I are going for the first time this summer.