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Caithness Poetry                             

A-Z of Caithness Places


by Joy Corley

Badbea now a bleak and forlorn place
Its crofts scattered and laid to waste.
Rugged, dangerous and impassable to the shore
It’s no wonder no one lives there any more.

Badbea at one time heralded twelve crofts
Extending to the edge of the precipitous rocks
Exposed to the icy winds and torrential rain
Struggling to survive must have been a strain.

The inhabitants lived a simple primitive life
Free from today’s stresses and strife
With cattle, milk and a fat pig they were content
Tea, sugar and loaf-bread used only on social events.

Every croft a spinning wheel adorned
Women spinning and carding from dusk till dawn
Luxury was a ‘wee Drap’ of genuine whisky
Stilled illegally and guaranteed to make you tipsy.

“John Badbea” held Sunday meetings in his house
Everyone congregated to hear him spout.
His supplications lengthening for a good hour
As all around were subjected to his power.

Gorse bushes, heather and bracken did abound
Their patched of agriculturally improved ground
They had no plough in the whole village
A spade was the only implement used to till it.

Children were fettered by chains to the rocks
As parents gutted herrings down at the dock
Women carried manure in creels upon their backs
Toiling along the many well-worn tracks.

Life on Badbea was hard and unfair
Only the toughest survived out there
Innocent victims of mankind’s selfish greed Badbea
Provided a haven for their needs.

Only a monument now marks the site
An engraved tribute to the inhabitants’ plight
Access to the settlement is via a kissing ate
Allowing visitors to gaze and ponder Badbea’s fate.

Joy Corley