Nicole Lind is a beachcomber and artist from the famously treasure-laden east coast of Scotland, on the peninsula of Fife. Her relationship with beachcombing began when she visited her future husband Craig for the first time in Edinburgh. On a trip to the beach together, she started collecting sea glass, shells, and driftwood and brought them back to Frankfurt, where she was working as an interior designer at the time. Six months later, she and Craig were married and now she can visit the beaches of Fife in Scotland all the time.
Since she moved from Germany to Scotland and became an avid collector in 2007, she’s found almost everything you can find on the coast, from marbles, stoppers, sea glass, sea pottery, kiln stilts, cow teeth, bonfire sea glass, milk glass, vulcanite stoppers, and plastic. Her all-time favorite finds are a Czech cracker charm cat and a Frozen Charlotte doll. Still on her bucket list is a large piece of elusive orange sea glass.
Now, Nicole loves particularly to search for treasures below castles. She searches alongside Craig, and he’s an integral part of her hobby. “He always finds the best pieces and gives them to me.”
In her free time she loves gardening, jigsaw puzzles, and painting—though her favorite pastime is still creating sea glass art, or thinking and dreaming about sea glass. She also loves making beachcombing videos for her YouTube channel with Craig called “Scottish Mudlarking.”
Nicole began to make art with her discoveries in 2015. She makes jewelry, and says her love for innovative color combinations (from her former profession as an interior senior designer and her training as an architect) shows in her sea glass jewelry. She is inspired by seascapes, winter skies, sunsets, and beautiful color combinations wherever they might appear. Her artistic process involves research, collecting, hours and hours of sorting, drilling, photographing, and then sharing photos on social media.
The East Neuk (the area around Fife, Scotland), according to Nicole, is a mecca for sea glass lovers from all over the world. Each winding beach of the peninsula is vastly different from each other. One may have massive chunks of sea glass, another might have pottery, and a different one may have plastic. There is also sea coal, fire pot belly stoves, pebbles, and driftwood.
Nicole says people are friendly on the beaches of Fife and may approach as you’re beachcombing. “Occasionally a stranger might hand me a few pieces of sea glass because they spot me collecting, and after a chat they want to contribute. Some people don’t collect anything and just listen to the waves and seagulls.”
If you’re looking for solitude on a long walk, Nicole recommends Lunan Bay near Montrose. There, you can walk alongside the cliffs in Arbroath and navigate a treasure-laden rocky shore at low tide.
For beautiful scenery, Nicole recommends Edinburgh’s South Queensferry, where you can beachcomb and eat at a variety of restaurants with view of the Forth Bridge afterwards.
And, if you don’t have a specific treasure in mind, Nicole says to explore any of the beaches along the Fife coast. There are over 500 miles of coastal path, but make sure to go around low tide.
A crucial tip from Nicole: “Be prepared for four seasons in one day when you come to visit.” Even during the summer, Nicole says the Scottish coastal weather is wildly unpredictable. But don’t worry. Even if a storm does prevent you from beachcombing, there are many alternatives.
“My husband and I like to prep something for lunch and sit in the car and look at the waves crashing,” she says. “It’s a Scottish thing as far as I know! You’ll find you are not alone in a beach facing car park with lots of people doing just that. Or get some fish and chips or spicy haggis supper if you are brave.”
In Fife, there are many other things to do besides beachcombing. “There are castles, castle ruins, a rope walk in Elie, and a beach-adjacent church in St Monans,” Nicole says. She also recommends a visit to St Fillan’s cave in Pittenweem. “Just grab the key to the iron gate from the Cocoa Tree cafe—and when you come back try some of their chocolate cake or truffles.”
Janetta’s in St. Andrews has over 50 ice cream flavors, one invented over a 100 years ago. Nicole says to stay in a central hotel if you wish to explore all the beaches along the Fife coast, or to stay in Edinburgh, which is just south of Fife. She recommends visiting the beaches below the Firth of Forth bridge, where a magnificent view and chunky pieces of sea glass await.
If you want fresh lobster, check out Crail Harbour, just up the coast from Pittenweem. “You can also take a boat to the Isle of May from Anstruther to see puffins.” If you like hiking and climbing, check out Falkland and the Lomond Hills Regional Park, driving to the top to check out Falkland Palace with its massive gardens.
As for quintessential experiences, Nicole recommends visiting Scotland’s castles, including her favorites, Linlithgow where Mary Queen of Scots was born, Culross Palace, St. Andrews Castle, Kellie Castle, and Arbroath Abbey.
Nicole enjoys the McManus Museum in Dundee, which details the rich history of Dundee when jute and whale were exported worldwide. The Verdant Works is worth the trip, and once there, Broughty Ferry will take you to visit the castle which has a museum and a bird/sealife watch platform. If you visit during the summer, you can attend the Pittenweem arts festival, walking through the small fishing village and meeting with local artists in almost every house.
You can find Nicole’s beautiful pieces of jewelry at tiliabythesea.com, and search for TiliabytheSea on Instagram, Facebook, Etsy, Amazon Handmade UK, and Folksy to find more of her art and photos. Tag along with Nicole and Craig on their beachcombing, mudlarking, and sea glass adventures on their YouTube channel at bit.ly/scotmudlarking.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine November/December 2020 issue.