Skip to main content
Spirit Logo
Hopeman East Beach (Credit: Anne Burgess)
< Back to "Lossiemouth"

Green Fingers in Rockpools

By Isobella Hubbard

Sandy toes, wet curls and fingers like prunes from being in the sea all day. I spent most summers on a small beach in the North East of Scotland. Hopeman to all who live close by, ‘Houpmin’ to the locals. God’s Country.

As a child I would run the sandy shores playing chasey’s with my friends and trying to find the weirdest looking creatures from the salty rockpools. We would build sandcastles fit for princesses. Running back and forth for water to make the sand cement-like to make the best foundations. We would never venture far past the small rocks though.  We were warned to keep to the pools closest to the beach. Not further out, where she was believed to live. Where she lurked waiting for the tiny toes of children to pull down into the black. Into the dark holes where you couldn’t see past the thick belts of seaweed. Down in to the depths of her lair. She was known to some as the ‘Green witch’ but to me and all who are from here she is the ‘Grin Iron Wife’. The one who would make sure you were never seen again if she caught you.

She looked like a witch with her pale green skin and straggles of hair like old fisherman’s rope. Her eyes were what haunted me most as a child, like dark black soulless stones.  Was that why she preyed on us as children? For our souls to take as her own?

She stays hidden out where the waves crash against the mussel covered rocks. Her black worn dress can sometimes be seen blowing in the wind like a pirate’s sail. She is always sure to stay tucked away from any adult.  

I saw her once when I was about seven. I saw her hand.

My bandy net was just grazing the surface of the water trying to catch the starfish clinging to the side of the rock. Her long, slick, bony fingers creepily worked their way up through the glistening water. My heart raced, and I dropped the net. Terrified she would pull me into her world, I left my net on the beach that day. My Mum told me off for losing it, but I know she would have told me off a whole lot more if she knew I was that far out. Like most days she’d warned me that morning.

Perhaps that’s all she was. A warning. A tale our elders made up to keep us safe from the dangers of the sea and its unforgiving currents. To prevent accidents on the slippery rocks.

Or perhaps she really does live out there. Green with envy watching all the families laughing enjoying the beach together, while she is all alone. Perhaps she is simply lonely.   

We Want to Hear From You!

Share your stories of local tales and folklore in the Highlands and Islands

Stories are at the heart of what we do as a project and we are always looking to learn more about what the Highlands and Islands means to people who live, work, and visit here.

Oral tradition, storytelling, and folklore play a key role in the history of many cultures across the world, including the Highlands and Islands. We would love to know, do you have a favourite folklore or tale associated with your local area? How do you feel this tale sums up the 'Spirit of the Highlands and Islands' for you? Tell us below, we can't wait to hear from you!

Click here to share your story through our online story portal