Day 13 Farr Bay - The lost generation.
A picturesque sandy cove surrounded by grass-clad highlands and tall standing dunes behind, it is apparently Joanna Lumley's favourite Beach!
We'd got that interesting fact from Jim Johnston, our contact and local legend who in turn who was told that during a chance early morning chance encounter with Joanna Lumley's biographer on the beach itself!
Jim is a dedicated local figure whom even our Air B & B hosts knew of. He regularly organising beach cleans with Farr Primary and Secondary Schools, the latter of which he was Head Teacher. Jim can also be found organising and leading local history guides and walks, if that wasn't enough he is also a reporter for two local newspapers!
Originally from the Shetlands, Jim settled with his wife in Bettyhill, he regaled us of the local legend of a Bronze Anchor from the Spanish Armada is supposedly buried in the sand on the east side of Farr Bay. Also how, near his native island in the Shetlands, the same Armada also landed on a small island, where locals promptly assumed the Spanish - clad in their shining armor - were the second coming of Christ!
These are warm communities in cold lands, it is becoming clear that the fabric of many Scottish communities have the land and sea deeply woven into their seams. Although, not without conflict, for example reintroducing wolves to control deer population is something we're told is guaranteed to spark a heated debate. Still, this sense of community extends large distances, where nothing is thought of a 2-hour drive to visit friends. In cities, like London, this distance would form an almost impenetrable barrier to a sense of community. Rather that sense barely stretches to the neighbours door at its lengthiest or on rare occassion the street. Sadly, more commonly, the community does not exist at all.
The connection with the sea in Scotland is particularly powerful because of the traditional reliance on it for fishing, trade, shipping, transport and more recently oil. We see this reflected in the dedication people we meet for beach cleans have to their environment. However, from the same dedicated people and in our own experience we hear of a real disconnect with younger generations and some older with the environment. Whether this is because of the decline in fishing and oil combined with the modern life we can’t say for certain.
Perhaps as evidence of this disconnect and at the other end of the spectrum to someone like Jim, we witnessed how people can deny responsibility. Some beach users were happy to talk to us, take interest and support the project, however they refused to take part - even for 2 minutes - in the clean. Instead, the same people were quite happy to direct us to the litter and point out where we'd missed litter. This provides a very distinct contrast to communities like Widemouth, where people take responsibility and the average dog walker picks up at least a few items of litter regardless of gender or age. Demonstrating that although it isn't glamorous to pick up litter, actually even a small 2 minute clean can have a positive impact on the individual and the beach is left cleaner!
The simple fact is; If no one takes responsibility then no one can enjoy litter-free beaches.
Farr Bay was a beach with many small pieces of litter, we picked up ~300 items (169 in the sample survey), weighing in at 5.1kg. Rather oddly, we found a deflated Rib or speed boat and 100ft of fish farm debris washed up – the same type we picked up at Stoer. However we did not count these as we could not move them, rather we agreed with Jim to leave this for a much bigger beach clean happening in a couple of weeks. These two items could have easily added 150-250kg to the total.
Total Items surveyed: 262
Total items picked up: ~300.
Total Weight: 5.1kg
Weirdest Item: Print Cartidge from France and a Rib boat!
The following results are for the 100metre survey section, note that the Weight is the total weight of the clean and not of the litter gathered for 100m sample length.
Litter Pickers: The Plastic Tide team and Jim Johnston.