Norby Beach, Sandness is Vanishing

We have had some horrendous storms, a constant barraging this winter and when I took the dogs for a walk at a regular haunt, Norby Beach at Sandness, I could see the extent of the damage that had been done.


EROSION.  Coastal erosion at its worst.  I was shocked.  This is a beach I have walked or ridden along for many years.  I have never seen it look so eaten away.


This is the Melby end.  I’ve never seen the red rock that appeared over night before.  At first, as I approached, I thought it had been put there by man (sometimes boulders are used for coastal defence) but no, a huge quantity of sand had been washed away from this end and these new rocks had appeared.  I think they are red sandstone (but am happy to be corrected).  Over 20 foot of sand had gone and was still leaving.

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So we walked to the other end, crossing the two burns that flow onto the beach.  The other end was no better either.


This field fence is moved a few yards back every year and the sea was becoming more and more encroaching.

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It felt like giant savage bites were being taken out of the beach every time there was a storm.  It must be very depressing owning this field as every year it is eaten away and every year it must be re-fenced (no easy job).

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This beach is changing fast.  It used to be either sandy or stoney and that was the extent but now it’s whole shape is being altered at a frightening speed too.  There used to be more dunes, a path at the top you could ride along, and far more of the actual beach visible but now, on not an even particularly high tide, the water is nearly right up to the grass.  Scary stuff.

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9 thoughts on “Norby Beach, Sandness is Vanishing

  1. Keith Alexander

    Once upon a time the moon was a lot closer to earth and the tides were truly huge, some say the power of the tides were part of the catalyst to life itself the certainly shaped the planet that we know today and are still doing so.

    It was never as close as this though 🙂

    Meanwhile as the moon slowly recedes the tides are also slowing down despite this years storms

    Anyway as you like Photos imagine these as close as shown:

  2. Karen

    Nature is all powerful. We went went to Norfolk a couple of weeks ago, the flights to Shetland were too expensive 🙁 , and saw the damage that had been caused by December’s tidal surge.

  3. Cate

    I’m sure you’ll keep an eye out for possible archeological surprises. Skara Brae was first revealed by a big storm, wasn’t it?

  4. Katie

    As a coastal geologist, yes that is shocking to find so much beach gone so quickly. Many beaches are eroding due to rising ocean levels, but hopefully to make you feel a little better, I will let you know that it is quite common that winter moves sand offshore and summer brings it back. I expect that some of the beach will come back this summer, but sadly not all of it (especially that old dune that was eroded into) Others are right though, that picture of Loki is amazing. It looks like the light colored rock maybe placed there and the red bedrock ?? thanks for the pics – I come for the horses and wonderful tales but it was fun to get a little geology mixed in 🙂

  5. Linda

    The story is made clear by these photos – and it reminds me sadly of the beach where I first learned how to ride – usually bareback to swim the horses. It’s a beautiful treasure of a spot on Guam called Talofofo Bay. It’s been eroding over the last 20 years and almost took out the bridge and road that passed close behind it on several occasions. Treasure the memories anyway, and keep snapping!

  6. Debbie Sanderson

    Hi Frances, I love My Shetland for all your wonderful stories and photos. On the Isle of Man, we also have the coastal erosion problem…fences left limply hanging suspended above the sands, cottages left empty and crumbling as the land is devoured. Earlier this year, at Cranstal, Bride, an amazing 10,000 year old forest was uncovered as a result of storms. One day, I will get to Shetland, it’s on my list if I can persuade my beloved! We now have two ‘minions’ at the farm where I keep my LFC (Little Fat Cob), she is eyeing them most suspiciously at the moment! Never stop blogging, it’s one of my daily pleasures. Debbie


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