Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hazardous Badbea. Article II, 31/07/1879 - Rambling Recollections of Berriedale, Badbea, and Neighbourhood - Part A

Article II written by Alexander Gunn, aka A Native of Badbea, was printed in the Northern Ensign on  July 31, 1879.
Article II Part A
"In my previous remarks on Badbea I gave a description of its whereabouts, which would enable a stranger to find his way thither, but I believe he would think very little of it having seen it. There is nothing very attractive about it. It is a barren, rugged spot. Behind stand low hills, with innumerable boulders cropping through the earth, the spaces between covered over with brown heather. Seaward it is bounded by high rugged, perpendicular rocks, on which the storms of winter expend their full force as they majestically roll in from the German Ocean, till the spray sometimes flies over them, reaching even to the houses above. There is access to the shores below only here and there, and that same is not of a very tempting nature. The great wonder is that serious accidents do not occur more frequently. The young folks, in my time, could run along the face of these dangerous rocks like rabbits. The traffic to and fro from the shore, both summer and winter, by those engaged at the fishing was very considerable, and those giddy tracks, which did duty for roads, were used in the darkest nights with as little concern as if they were turnpike roads.
Black Highland Cow and Calf
Sometimes an unfortunate cow or stirk slipped their feet when they ventured too far to get a mouthful of the sweet grass which grew luxuriantly on the cliffs, and, of course, were dashed to pieces on the rocks below, to the great grief and loss of the owner, who could ill afford to lose one of his herd.
There were two or three fatal accidents to some of the inhabitants as well. One of these, a man named George Duncan, was returning from Berriedale, after finishing his day's work at the Established Manse, then in course of erection, and in the darkness of the night he lost his way and fell over the side of Berriedale Head. His non-arrival at home that night as usual caused much uneasiness to his family, and as soon as daylight set in next morning there was a messenger dispatched to Berriedale to make inquiry about him, when it was found that he was seen in the gloaming, making his was in the direction of home. It was evident from this that something serious had happened to him, and a search party was sent out with a view to the finding of his body. On searching the shore to the east of Badbea, his mangled remains were found where I have already indicated; and, strange to say, a number of years afterwards a son of his, a lad of about ten years of age, fell over the rocks right below his mother's house.
Cliffs at Badbea
Source: Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned report No. 148
With Permission
He had a very narrow escape, but an intrepid neighbour risked his own life, and went down to where the almost lifeless lad lay, took him up on his shoulders, bound him to his own body with a rope, scaled the previously inaccessible cliff, and laid him down on his mother's knee. The generous kind-hearted man who risked his own life to save another was John Gunn, who died a few years ago, at the patriarchal age of 89; and it is only doing justice to his memory to mention his name in connection with this accident"
Note: See Blog 41 for more information on George Duncan
The photos and illustrations were not with the original article

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