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Sand, Silt, Flint: Walk Four: Gardenstown 

Sand, Silt, Flint is a studio album and song cycle project by Aberdeenshire electronic music composer, sound artist and avant-folk experimentalist Fiona Soe Paing. 

From the bleak expanses of The Lecht in the Cairngorms, to the dramatic Banffshire coast, the songs combine Fiona’s original electronica arrangements and mesmerising vocals with re-imaginings of traditional ballads, archive material, field recordings and traditional instrumentation, enveloping the listener in an immersive and unsettling re-imagining of ancient stories.

Each song is also presented via a series of outdoor geo-located sound walks in the Echoes mobile app; using smart-phones and headphones, the audio is triggered by GPS, enabling audiences to experience the music in the environments which provided it’s inspiration.

Walk Four: Gardenstown: Fisher’s Lullaby 

Lullabies sung by the wives of fishermen are common in the fishing communities of North East Scotland. The women of these tiny coastal villages constantly worried for their husbands while they were out at sea. Singing lullabies was a simple way for them to calm both their children and their worries. The Fisher’s Lullaby is based on the song of the Fisherman’s Wife. In this sad song a worried waiting wife prays with her children for the safety of their father out at sea as she sings them gently to sleep with her bittersweet lullaby. The original version “The Sang O’ The Fisherman’s Wife” was written by Zetta Sinclair, mother of Scottish singer and former game show host Isla St Claire, who grew up in Buckie on the north Aberdeenshire coast. Zetta was also one of the original founders in the 1960s of the Aberdeen Folk Song Club. 

Gardenstown Walk 

The village and harbour of Gardenstown is one a handful of tiny sea facing hamlets that cling to the steep cliffs of coastal Aberdeenshire. All houses face seawards around both the hamlet’s old harbour and the only road that winds its steep way down to the sea. Gardenstown was founded in the early eighteen century and fishing began in its harbour about a hundred years later. Both salmon and herring fleets were once based here and, at the height of the peak the local fishing industry at turn of the nineteenth to twentieth centuries, 92 boats operated from Gardenstown’s tiny harbour. It’s easy to imagine this old sea-soaked village surrounded by steep cliffs full of boats selling their catch of the day and large salmon nets hanging out to dry and to still feel the worry of those waiting at home when the fleet left safe harbour for open sea. Take time on a walk around the old harbour to read the information boards detailing the history of the town’s fishing industry. If you’re visiting on a weekday during the summer drop into the Heritage Centre (open Monday to Friday 2pm-4pm during the summer) to find out more about Gardenstown’s harbour, fishing fleet and old fish wives. If you’ve time for a longer walk, head east along the coastal path to the tiny community of Crovie a few miles along the coast whose main street can only be travelled along by foot. The path is a perfect place for dolphin or bird spotting, but some parts get covered by the high tide. In wild weather it’s best avoided altogether. 

Practical Information 

Getting There

Two narrow roads lead off the B9031 to Gardenstown, one to the east and the other to the west of the hamlet. Both meet and merge into the B9123 as it makes a steep, twisty, and increasingly narrow, downhill journey to the Gardenstown’s harbour and heart of the village. Parking is located at the harbourside. A local bus service (no 273) runs between Gardenstown, Fraserbourgh to the east and Banff to the west. 

Toilets & Refreshments 

Picnic tables and public toilets can both be found at the harbourside. Places to eat include The Garden Arms Hotel (closed on Tuesdays) which dates back to 1743 and also has accommodation – the hotel boasts a visit by Bram Stoker in 1896. Eli’s Crafts, Cakes and Coffee is located close to public parking and champions local produce on their menu – take away also available. 


The roads and lanes around Gardenstown’s harbour are accessible by wheelchair. 

 Each walk is written and researched by Lesley Anne Rose.

You purchase Sand, Silt, Flint via Fiona’s Band Camp site. 

Image credit: Isla Goldie

Walk Disclaimer

We are not responsible for the maintenance of the pathways and tracks described in each walk. The responsibility lies with the landowner or public body that manages the land. Walks have been researched and written based on the conditions of the track or pathway when we undertook each one. We strongly recommend wearing appropriate walking shoes or boots and outdoor clothing for each walk. 

Dogs should be kept on a lead during lambing season (April to July) and be careful to check for ticks when returning from walks between March and October which can cause Lyme Disease. For more information, see: