Around ten years ago, I had been working in the UK and during a break I decided to go on a short tour of the north of Scotland.
I had stayed overnight at Durness (a wonderful little village with some amazingly rustic buildings) and decided to head out early the next morning for some sightseeing. This was in September, the weather had been much nicer than I expected, with most days warm (although overcast), and little of the rain I feared.
On my drive I happened to arrive at a roadside beach and selected this spot for a walk as the sun was to rise. I parked on the side of the road in the pre-dawn light and after a few minutes in the car I set out walking to the beach. The sound of the waves and the smell of the ocean were lovely in the cool morning air.
I walked around 200 yards towards the rocks on the left of the beach and realized that I could hear the soft sound of laughter, singing and playful shouts coming from further around the rocks. This was a little confusing, as I thought I would be alone at this hour of the morning, and I didn’t see any houses close to this spot. I also felt a little uneasy about it for some reason not obvious at the time.
I was told that the beaches around here were open to the public, and there were many walking trails, so I was confident that I was not encroaching on a private gathering. As I grew closer, I was sure the voices were mostly (if not all) female. I, perhaps naively, doubted I was in any danger as I am a fairly large man. My only concern was that I may scare the people, yet despite this I wanted to see around the rocks and discover who had gathered so early on the beach.
Strangely, as I drew closer to the large rock outcrop that barred my view of the group around the small cove, the sound of their activity quieted to almost no noise.
The only sound were the waves, the wind, and some splashing of frolicking in the water.
A few seconds later I cleared the rocks and I finally had a view of the small beach.
To my confusion I noticed no people on the sand. The only company that greeted me were some 15 or so grey seals, of various sizes. Most were watching me from the safety of the water, while others swam further out into the bay. While they were a lovely sight to behold in the early morning light, I was more curious as to the location of the people who were here. I stood and looked about the small cove area and I saw no people or evidence that people had been here.
I decided to walk into the area and I sat down on the rocks to watch the sun rise over the ocean. As I relaxed there, the seals swam away and I was left to my own thoughts.
It was maybe half an hour later that, in the light of the sun, I noticed the fresh footprints in the sand all around me. It was the ones in front of me I examined first, they were smaller than my own feet so I believed they were from a young woman.
There were many prints around… some quite small (obviously children) and none appeared to be as large as my own foot prints. The prints all appeared to come up from the water, and return to the water, with the waves quickly destroying the evidence of their passing.
I thought about it and I am not sure of what I saw… I admit it was still a little dark when I looked at the seals, yet I am sure that they were not people. They were quiet large and grey, with no human hair or faces. Yet I could not explain this. I started to feel a sense of unease and I decided it would be better to go on about my day. I quickly put it behind me and continued my day tour.
That night, when I returned to my lodging, I mentioned my morning adventure to the landlady.
She drew quiet on my questions about the disappearing people and advised me not to talk to people about my experience.
She told me that I had encountered a group of Selkies, and that I should count myself lucky no misfortune had occurred to me.
Since then, I have always kept my experience a secret, only now telling you about it as I trust I will not be mocked. I often wonder why I stopped at that beach and whether I sensed their presence or if it was just a coincidence.
Blair – U.S.