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North Roe

North Roe


preparing the big bannock 2006There’s one weekend a year when all roads lead to North Roe. That’s the third weekend in August when the community hall and surrounding area become the focus for the mirth and jollification of the Big Bannock fund raising event. Anarchy rules and keen competition comes to the fore with the Merry Tiller Grand Prix. Domestic skills are celebrated as hundreds share an enormous bannock after it’s been baked and spread with fresh butter mmm....newly churned by two rival teams. There’s music and beer and silly games and the fun of the day raises many thousands of pounds. That success is dependent on the hard work of local folk as well as the fertile imagination of the organisers from all over Northmavine who come up with wacky original ideas every year.

It’s a blessing that North Roe has this grand event – it’s a healthy happening for a small community on the edge of Northmavine.

It may be years since I lived there but my heart still lifts every time when I come over the hill at Skelberry. North Roe was an exciting place to grow up, an adventure playground by itself. Fethaland

Let’s take a circular tour, starting from the North East tip. There’s Fedeland, full of stories of the days of the haaf fishing and in the banks a great rockface of soapstone where people carved their names over generations. Come Southwards and speculate about the ancient buildings out on the Kame of Isbister. Perhaps Vikings came ashore there.

sunset Burravoe

At the back of the hill at Burravoe deep clefts related to the Great Glen Fault allow flowers to bloom safe from grazing. Come by Oot Toon and down among the rock pools and the sea anemones. At the North Haa, try the steps in front former North Roe shopof the former shop building down to the sea, a curiosity from bygone days. Walk past the war memorial on your way South, noting how many lives were lost in both World Wars from such a small place. Past the modern pier, there was once an old fishing station and beyond the ayre, there’s the Vadil which was such a safe place to play with toy boats.

Over the burn-mouth below the Ness of Houlland we gathered shell sand for the hens. Down the coast from there, you come to Brei Geo where we collected the rare grottie buckie shells. Leaving the East coast now, head West to explore the rocky hills of the Beorgs where trows and giants used to live (and may still thrive unseen). The lochs between there and the waterfalls at the West Banks are full of trout and the heather ripe with berries to purple the mouth of any bairn. Uyea fascinated me as a bairn, but I especially liked the “Stone Age Factory” as we called it, where ancient axes were manufactured. Then it’s round the hilly coast to Roermill where the sea monster Shoopiltie tormented the folk and from Turvy Hill step down to Sandvoe, a place to gather razor shells when the tide’s out. Sandvoe

We walked, we swam, we cycled, we explored and we helped with hay and peats.

The places where we roamed and played in our school holidays are just as rich today. Tourists and visitors from hameaboot will find North Roe fascinating. It’s got geology, archaeology, history, folk-lore, nature, fishing and beach-combing.

North RoeThe folk who do stay there have a beautiful place to call home but most of them have to drive South every day to go to work. You can’t make a living from a view. There’s definitely hope for the future though as the foundations are laid for new homes, old houses are given a new lease of life and the fight goes on to keep the school open. But oh, wouldn’t it be fine if there were public toilets !

Mary Blance


North Roe Primary School has its own website

which is full of interesting information, photos, movies and a whole lot more!

North Roe school Christmas concert

Christmas Concert 2006 - The Match Seller's Christmas

© North Roe Primary School

Top photo of Big Bannock © Lorna Sandison, other Big Bannock photo © Big Bannock, photo of old shop © Fiona Cope, others © Neil Charleson. Christmas Concert photo © North Roe Primary School.