ROUND the world yachtsman Andrew Halcrow is based in Burra. Although his sailing exploits have taken him all over the world, he still finds solace and inspiration at a beautiful beach close to his home.
What is your favourite place in Shetland?
There are so many great places in Shetland I’ve been to over the years that it’s difficult to pin it down to one. But I would have to go for the Meal Sand.
What about it appeals to you?
It’s a beautiful spot with some of the whitest sand to be found anywhere in Shetland and it’s a place I’ve gone to all my life. We used to go there a lot in the summer when we were bairns building sandcastles and swimming and it remains a great place for a family day out. There used to be a spring at the head of the sand that had the coldest, clearest, sweetest tasting water ever. In the shoormal there would be all kinds of interesting stuff that had been washed off foreign boats and drifted across oceans. I found a St. Kilda mailboat there once.
When I did a lot of running I used to often train there in the soft sand. It was also a regular walk when I owned a dog, but cleaning a wet, sand covered dog isn’t the best of jobs …
The sea and the wind move the sand around a lot, heaping it up and pulling it back. It can vary from day to day, especially in winter. It’s always the same place but with subtle changes.
How often do you go there?
We’re lucky that it’s only a short walk from our house so we go there quite often.
How many times have you been over the years?
What time of day is best?
We tend to go there in the early evening for a walk but any time of day is good.
What time of year is best?
Summer is when most folk come to the sand and it’s a great place to spend a day out especially if it’s sunny and the wind is easterly so it’s a sheltered spot to soak up the heat of the day and have a barbecue. You can get some good sunsets if you sit on the east side of the sand in early spring. In the winter it can be a fresh and invigorating walk on a wild windy day.
Do you seek solitude or is it a place you take family and friends to?
Usually I go there with family and friends but occasionally I’ll go for a wander on my own. Many times you can walk across there and be the only person on the beach. On fine, sunny summer days the sand will be crowded with people.