Rattray Head, by Peterhead, Aberdeenshire
I was dropped-off in the darkness along a single track road which leads to a solitary lighthouse at Rattray Head, one of the only places to access the beach past the secure perimeter of the giant gas plant. En-route we passed armed police at the shop, in various lay-bys and spinning along the tracks and by-ways. They obviously anticipate the colossal disruption and loss of revenue that a potential terrorist attack would create…even if the terrorists can’t see it. If I may make a flippant statement at this point…it’s far too windy at St Fergus for terrorism – they would be blown onto their bum as soon as they stepped out of their vehicle! I think the best way to ‘take out’ the gas plant would be to steal everyone’s jackets…
Unlike the rest of Scotland, the north-east coast has a distinct lack of seaweed. I had planned to use seaweed like roofing tiles and driftwood for the main structural frame. Another thing about the north-east coast is that there is no driftwood!
I wandered along a flooded trail to an exposed beach which was vast and windswept. There was a Long Tailed Duck pottering about in a sand-pool and a Desert Wheatear harbouring in the dunes above (which is apparently a rarity in bird-watching circles). Recent storms had devastated many homes in the area and wiped out a good number of seabirds. The beach was littered with the carcases of these smashed-up unfortunates.
I decided the best way to get rid of them was just to get into my sleeping bag and not look at them! As soon as I lay down to sleep most of them crawled under my sleeping bag to safety. Out of sight – out of mind, I turned off my head-torch and lay down. As my eyes grew accustomed to the light I noticed them all around my head trying to climb to safety or burrow into the sand. I pulled the flaps of my hat around my ears…just in case and dozed off.
The moon spun round from the east to the south-west until it was time to gather my gear and make my way back along the track. The wind had blown a cup-full of sand into my clothing and pants which had the effect of a ‘spa-quality’ exfoliation. This empty and windswept beach was actually full of life and I had the good fortune to sleep with most of them.