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 isalso 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.
Each walk is accompanied by text detailing the local folklore that inspired it and practical information on how to get to each location.
Walk Two: Aberdour Bay and The Ballard of Jane Whyte
The seas around the north east coast of Scotland were restless on Tuesday 28 October 1884. It was early that morning when the William Hope, a Dundee steamer, left Fraserburgh – a fishing town on far north east corner of Aberdeenshire, known locally as The Broch. The William Hope was steaming towards Burghead, a small town built on a peninsular that juts out into the Moray Firth around 60 miles to the west, when the weather turned. The captain’s report from the day states that by the time they reached Troup Head, a mere third of the way, the weather had ‘started blowing a hurricane’. This was bad news for the vessel which was due to pick up cargo at Burghead and sailing light. After struggling in heavy seas for a couple of hours the captain decided the only way to save the ship and its crew was to head to shore – praying the vessel could be salvaged and crew rescued.
Jane Whyte lived with her nine children close to the beach at Aberdour Bay, the place chosen to run the William Hope aground. Jane spotted the vessel floundering offshore and immediately went down to the sea to help. According to the captain ‘at great risk to her own life’ Jane took hold of a rope that was thrown to her from the ship and tied it around her waist. As the waves pounded on the beach around her, she planted her feet firmly into the gravel and pulled the rope tight. All 15 sailors aboard the William Hope were able to hold fast onto it and make their way through the wild waters from ship to shore. Once all were safely on dry land, Jane took them into her home to get warm and dry.
The William Hope was too damaged to be salvaged and sold as a wreck, but brave Jane Whyte was awarded the RNLI Silver Medal for Gallantry and news of her bravery spread across the country.
Aberdour Bay is nestled on a small stretch of off the beaten track coastline a handful of miles north of the planned village of New Aberdour. The journey to both leads through the miles and narrow lanes of Aberdeenshire’s rolling farmland which drops down to meet the sea at numerous dramatic settlements along this isolated coastline. The narrow road that leads north off the B9031 to Aberdour Bay culminates in a large gravel car park at the edge of the shingle beach. Even on a calm day it’s easy to imagine the William Hope struggling in the seas that roll into this wild but beautiful small bay. The walk from one end to the other is a short one that won’t take more than half an hour for most to complete. On the eastern end of the beach limestones caves and a natural arch have carved themselves deep into the dramatic cliffs and at low tide wide rock pools reveal themselves along the curved shoreline.
A short path heads inland from the carpark and leads to a monument to Jane Whyte as well as an information board detailing the story of her bravery, a poem entitled “A Brave Woman” written by J.F Nicholls and a photograph of Jane herself. Nearby, a bench dedicated to one of Jane’s 52 grandchildren, is the perfect place take in views of a long horizon and imagine Jane standing strong on the shore ensuring no one from the William Hope was lost at sea.
The road that leads to Aberdour Bay is a narrow ones that heads north towards the sea to the west of New Aberdour off the B9031, a coastal road linking Macduff and Fraserbourgh. Those travelling my public transport can catch the infrequent Stagecoach service (route numbers 270 and 74) which make the 30 minute journey from Fraserburgh seven miles east.
Toilets & Refreshments
The car par at Aberdour Bay includes a picnic area and portable toilets. Public toilets can be found in New Aberdour at the junction of the High Street and B9031. This small village is also the nearest place to buy food. More places to eat can be found at Fraserbourgh or head to Gardenstown another small settlement along this coastline to the west of the headland at Troup Head and location of another Sand, Silt, Flint walk and song.
The area around the car park at Aberdour Bay is accessible for wheelchairs users, but not the beach itself or the pathway up to the monument to Jane Whyte.
Each walk is written and researched by Lesley Anne Rose.
You purchase Sand, Silt, Flint via Fiona’s Band Camp site.
Image credit: Clea Wallis
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: https://forestryandland.gov.scot/visit/activities/walking/check-for-ticks