Nik’s story …

The young man had memories like mine and more.  Staying out too long for one last cast across inhospitable waters, he never made landfall again.

This assumption from the previous post was based on vague memory and the fly rod sculpted into the headstone.

I am always astonished by the kindness of strangers – in this instance, Mary from Scullomie Pages and Iain from the Melness Social History site who, giving their time, uncovered the sad truth behind the headstone at Melness cemetery.

The body of a youth drowned while creel-fishing from a north Sutherland clifftop on Thursday, was recovered yesterday. Nicholas Wyper, 18, was washed into the sea while hauling in lobster pots from Port Vasgo, near Talmine.
Taken from the Sunday Herald at the time.

This from Iain:

Nicholas lived with family in Melness and there is still family there. I have attached a few photos for you as there is another memorial at the spot where it happened. Sadly the stone and the cairn is broken, like the hearts of his family. By all accounts he was a fine young lad who loved Melness, its beauty and freedom. The site looks benign in the September sunshine, but there are dangerous undercurrents and deep water round the inlet and Stac Dhu, so a good place for lobsters, but very hard work to pull up pots on uneven ground.


The images are reproduced with the kind permission of Iain C Morrison

The words on the cairn memorial read as follows:

29TH JUNE 1989




  1. easyweimaraner · January 16, 2017

    I’m so sorry for Nik…. it’s so sad that a day who promised good things and fun ended so badly :o(

  2. Sue · January 16, 2017

    Desperately sad – I can’t ‘like’ this post, but that said, very poignant, Robin

    • northumbrianlight · January 16, 2017

      I agree – there needs to be something other than ‘like’, it is not always the appropriate response (not inferring any criticism of those that do – it is a limitation of the system).

  3. Tish Farrell · January 16, 2017

    Sad indeed.

    • northumbrianlight · January 16, 2017

      The headstone at Melness cemetery always stuck in my memory – it could only have been commissioned by loving parents for a young person.

  4. J.D. Riso · January 16, 2017

    A sad mystery solved. Poor Nik, to have perished so young.

    • northumbrianlight · January 16, 2017

      I hesitated to put this up, it almost seems an intrusion but then I figured that memorial stones and headstones are intended to preserve memory and this post (and the book) is just an extension of that process. I hope his parents would agree.

      • J.D. Riso · January 18, 2017

        One would think they’d be touched that you made the effort, but you never know. Grief affects people in different ways.

  5. Su Leslie · January 16, 2017

    Lovely post. I wonder sometimes whether I should write about others’ tragedy (I am a compulsive headstone “detective”), but I think that if the writing is sensitive and respectful — as your post is — it’s ok.

  6. socialbridge · January 17, 2017

    Robin, this is very touching. I’m sure his parents would agree as love lives on forever does it not?

  7. sustainabilitea · January 17, 2017

    I like that you did the post and remembered Nik, not that he died.


  8. restlessjo · January 19, 2017

    Well, I’ve clicked the like button but sometimes think it’s a reflex, Robin. I can think of no greater tragedy.

    • northumbrianlight · January 19, 2017

      Indeed Jo, like I said to Sue, there needs to be a range of responses beyond ‘like’.

  9. Graeme Gunn · September 19, 2018

    Nik was my cousin . He grew up in paisley but visited our grandparents in midfield, talmine every school holidays . His mother and father built a house there and live there today .

    • northumbrianlight · September 19, 2018

      Hi Graeme – good to hear from you. I have known of Nik’s gravestone at Melness for many years and always thought it the most touching memorial. It is only recently I found out the details of this sad story. It will be told in the sequel to Golf in the Wild and I hope I will do it justice. The sequel will be subtitled “Going Home”, something I had decided long before I knew of the cairn at Stac Dhu – it was quite an unsettling discovery. Many thanks for your comment and I trust my piece does not feel like an intrusion. Regards Robin

  10. Scott McChesney · May 25, 2019

    I knew Nik. We took classes in media studies together at Reid Kerr College in Paisley during the year 1988/89. He was a big fan of John Hughes and his ambition was to be a director. As I recall, Nik lived with his parents in the Paisley area. As far as I understand, and you have to remember this is going back thirty years now, Nik was holidaying with family in Sutherland for a week before joining his friends in, I think, Spain – certainly somewhere in the Mediterranean. I last saw Nik at the head of Well Street in Paisley, where we said our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch (our course, which Nik was attending part-time as part of a school release program, had just finished). I believe that was Friday, June 16th 1989. A couple of weeks later I heard he’d drowned, swept out to sea while creel fishing. I didn’t know Nik terribly well, but I knew him well enough to know he was a fine young man, talented ambitious, and kind. I was very sorry to hear that he’d gone, so young and such a way.

    • northumbrianlight · May 25, 2019

      Thanks for your comments Scott. I did not know Nik or his family but whenever I pass Melness cemetery I always stop and visit his gravestone – it is a remarkable and very touching memorial and is the reason his story appears on this blog.

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