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Banff

"Cargo baith wyes!"

Women of the fishing villages, sometimes family but also widows with little income whose husbands had been drowned at sea, known as fish wives, laden usually with the smallest of the catch in wicker creels hoisted onto their backs and held with a rope sling, walked many miles in one day to barter with farmers and crofters for butter, eggs and vegetables. As one Whitehills fisher described; "Cargo baith wyes!". Often it was the men who replaced the creels on the women’s backs. In Whitehills near Banff the women waded out to the boats anchored in a sheltered cove - the Hythe - with their men on their backs! This was not exploitation but a necessary act, for the men had to spend hours, or sometimes at the Great Line, days at sea and exposure to the elements in wet clothes heightened the risk of illness and with it absence from the fishing and no income.



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