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What’s in My Bag

A quick run down of what’s in my bag when I go out to build the Sheep Dyke

I’ve had this trusty Eurohike rucksack for... quite a few years! But I still love it because it’ comfy to wear and has a great roll top waterproof system for keeping my stuff dry. The front pocket zip has broken, but other than that it’s still going strong.


Layers are important whatever you’re doing outside on Orkney, especially waterproofs for those unexpected downpours. Once I’m busy building I quickly warm up, but for tea breaks it’s good to have a bag full of extra clothes to keep warm, such as a down jacket and buff. In the summer I worked without gloves, but as the tempetaure drops I’ll be wearing them again. Gloves are also useful when there’s a lot of sheep poo around or it’s wet and muddy. I’m also rarely seen without my woolly bobble hat and fleece headband combo - great for keeping the cold wind out of my ears!


When building in sandy areas or clearing areas that have lots of loose broken stone goggles are

essential for keeping nasties out of my eyes. I find it easier to work on my knees when clearing and building close to the ground, so knee pads are very practical.

I also take an emergency shelter out with me - not just for emergencies. If it tips it down it’s sometimes quicker to whip out the shelter rather than don all my waterproof gear. I can wait under the shelter with a cup of tea until the rain passes!


My chilly bottle keeps my water cold in the summer and not freezing in the winter! I also take a big thermos out full of mint tea, and plenty of snacks. Favourite snacks are homemade flapjack, digestives or cheese scones, or the old faithful cheese oakcakes.


I take 2 mobile phones out with me, my own and a work one. They’re on different networks, so I increase my chances of having some signal for people to get hold of me!

This year has largely involved building on my own, due to coronavirus travel restrictions nearly all my volutneers had to cancel. On some days building on my own, listening to the crashing waves and the sheeps hooves scampering across the pebbles is enough, but other days I like to zone out with a good audiobook or podcast, so a pair of headphones are definitely in my bag.

The nights are drawing in at some speed since the clocks went back, so a headtorch is a handy thing to have in case I get caught out in the dark.


Fencing pliers are a great tool for all things fencing - you can hammer, remove staples, cut and tichten wire with them. I’ll also have a multitool for cutting rope/string/anything else that comes up. A bin bag is helpful for litter that is buried where I’m clearing/building, or for a quick beach clean at the end of the day. I’ll also have a variety of different bits of string - for a quick fence repair!

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