St Abb’s to Pettico Wick

St Abb’s to Pettico Wick and return via Mire Loch (3.5 miles)

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The Berwickshire Coastline with Bass Rock in the far distance

 

(3.5 miles)

It’s me! Some recent lovely comments on my site made me decide to have another go.  Walking is slow and distances are short for me at the moment which is frustrating – but when the weather is being kind, as it was on the coast today, I suppose it doesn’t matter so much if you can’t walk fast or too far!

 

We usually walk around St Abb’s Head from the village and return via Mire Loch, missing out Pettico Wick.  Today we decided to go and have a look at this little cove starting from the National Trust Car Park just before you get to St Abb’s village and walking through the farm and out along the ‘Discovery Trail’ before diverting along the ‘Lighthouse Loop’ to the sea at Pettico Wick.  It’s all really well marked, the views are lovely – ahead and looking back towards St Abb’s and Coldingham Bay.

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Pettico Wick

Pettico Wick – no idea why this pretty bay is called this, apart from that an alternative name is listed by Canmore (Historic Environment Scotland) – Pettycarwick Bay – so it’s probably just got shortened over time and is now known as Pettico Wick. It’s a tiny harbour with a pier which was built so that supplies for the St Abb’s lighthouse could be landed. We didn’t venture down as there were lots of divers milling about preparing to set off on an exploration of the waters.

The coastal habitat here is a Voluntary Marine Reserve and is protected and part of a European Marine Site.  Apparently there are offshore forests of dense seaweed and the area is full of a mix of Atlantic and Arctic plant and animal species.  You can sometimes see dolphin here and we’ve seen a porpoise previously.

We reach the coast and walk a little way along the coast path northwards to see the thousands of guillemots nesting on the cliffs – they’re tightly packed together on the ledges. Puffins, kittiwakes and razorbills are also known to nest here but it’s hard to make them out amongst the hoard of guillemots – collective noun: A Bazaar of Guillemots –   that’s just what it sounds like too!  It’s unwise to get too close to the cliff edge for obvious reasons (!) but also because we know that breeding success in guillemots and kittiwakes is reduced by the presence of people, who cause the nesting birds stress (shown by raised heart rate) and a related energy loss which may lead them to desert their nests.  I don’t have my real camera today so can’t get good pictures of them but here’s one I took another day!

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Why do they all face the cliff instead of the sea?

We head back inland along the shore of Mire Loch passing by the reed beds (those black clouds just drifted away!)IMG_1520.JPG

and spotting what we thought might be a reed warbler chattering away.  Looking it up in my book later though, it seems that reed warblers are rare this far north so I think it was probably a sedge warbler – it had that distinctive white stripe above his eye.  They like reed beds and marshes with some trees and bushes, so its perfect for him here.  This is a first for me – never seen one before! No camera!!

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It’s getting warm as we head on through the wooded path and I’m beginning to wish I’d left the extra layers at home!  There are plenty of insects enjoying the sunshine including this moth – known as Mother Shipton because it’s wing pattern is said to look like an old witch, you have to look at it for a long time and turn it about a bit but could be I suppose:

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There are also lots of wild flowers and I’ve just got my phone which doesn’t do flowers and insects very well.

I did manage a good picture of the brightly coloured Northern Marsh-orchid which seems to be doing well here:

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And have a look at the lovely Scots Pine cones and flowers:

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We saw the swans nesting last time we were here – and this time they were guarding 5 cygnets from the hovering gulls.  Swimming not far away was a little troop of golden-eye duck – so pretty! So needed my camera!!

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There’s a steep uphill climb on the way back and I’m slowing down even more. The best way to deal with being slow I’ve found is to pretend you just wanted to take another picture:

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Mr M pretending he’s looking for something on the path and not at all wondering how far behind I am!

The hills around here are full of sheep and they roam freely – or laze about – whichever takes their fancy:

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He’s lovely and knows it!

 

At last I can drag my sore feet through the car park and down to the Old Smiddy Coffee Shop where we stop for a cup of tea and admire the nasturtiums outside of the lovely Number Four Gallery where Mr M dropped of some more arty stuff earlier today….

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So there we are, I hope you enjoyed reading about this walk.  I just wanted to give a trio of mentions:

to the St Abb’s Ranger who writes a blog, A Day in the (Wild) Life, which is full of lovely photos and interesting info! I notice s/he’s not posted since November last year but hopefully s/he’s just been super busy and will be back soon!

https://stabbsrangers.blogspot.com/2018/

to the National Trust for Scotland for the amazing information/visitor centre at St Abb’s which is full of interesting and very useful (for me) information boards, ‘what you might see’ books and leaflets:

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And to Mr M for this beautiful painting of Mire Loch – which of course we don’t get to keep – it’ll be part of his exhibition in The Robson Gallery, Halliwell House, Selkirk from 16th July and you can see it – and more – there:

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Mire Loch by Andrew Major

 

The Northumberland Coast

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24th February 2019

So it’s February already….I’ve not been here since last September but lets not worry about that just now.  We’ve been ‘wandering’ as opposed to ‘rambling’ today on the beach at Cocklawburn in Northumberland.  We’ve not been here before, but the sun is shining and its positively springlike so we decided to take a trip to the beach.  Cocklawburn is part of the Northumberland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Lindisfarne Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  The Northumberland coast has the longest stretch of sand dunes in Britain – most being formed only 300-400 years ago, lovely sandy beaches, castles and pretty villages. There is evidence of human activity stretching back 7000 years.

The majority of the Northumberland coast is limestone, alternating with sandstone and shale.  These hard rocks form platforms which are moulded by the waves and extend out into the sea as reefs or headlands.  The most dramatic of these are formed of Whinsill – or whinstone – an igneous rock (of which our very own house is built).  The patterns formed from the various layers of rock are fascinating and its easy to find fossils among them.

(For some fascinating info about local geology have a look at http://www.markedbyteachers.com which has a page about Cocklawburn)

On top of one of the cliffs is a disused limekiln, one of many in the local area.  They were built in the 18th century, as industrialisation was taking off and they supplied the raw material for improving soil fertility – quicklime – which is formed when limestone is heated to 900-1000ºC.

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                                                           Limekiln

This is a great place for rock pooling and an excited lady stops to show us a photograph of a couple of starfish she has seen.  We don’t see any of those – just limpets and barnacles with a lot of seaweed – which I thought was not going to prove very interesting but I’ve just spent an hour reading all about limpets and barnacles and found out some fascinating stuff!!  For example did you know that although limpets are firmly fixed to the rocks during the day, they graze on algae at night but always return to the same spot when the tide goes out?  This is because they need to protect themselves from drying out so their shells grow to fit the contours of their very own bit of rock ensuring the best seal between themselves and the surface.  Who knew limpets could be interesting?!

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                                                           Limpets

And barnacles too – these are crustaceans related to shrimp, crabs and lobsters and they secrete a fast acting cement – one of the most powerful glues known to man. In fact researchers are currently trying to find the best way to use this commercially – according to the National Ocean Service in the US – wouldn’t you just have guessed even barnacles are not safe? (www.oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/barnacles.html).  I’m sure extra-strong barnacle glue is going to be a very valuable resource eventually.  Anyway these tiny creatures don’t move around much – the adult ones just stay glued to the rock by the backs of their heads (ouch!) and feed via ‘cirri’ – feather like appendages which can retract through the top of the outer shell and are used to filter the water for microscopic organisms – when the tide goes out these ‘doors’ close to conserve moisture.

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Barnacles – the cement they secrete is what makes them such a problem for sailors who spend hours trying to scrape them off the bottom of their boats – isn’t that right Mr O?

So this is an important area for birds too – part of the reason for its status as an SSSI.  the mudflats are of international importance for several species including the redshank which we saw today – very close by:

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I was super-excited (I know – it doesn’t take much!) and was frantically waving to Mr RR who had wandered off to look at pretty rock patterns or search for driftwood or something when I suddenly realised that everyone except Mr RR was looking at me – probably wondering whether I was sinking into the mudflat (although no-one actually moved to save me!).  Of course by the time I’d finished waving my arms around and turned back, the bird had flown – not surprisingly!!

When Mr RR finally caught on and joined me, we spotted a flock of smaller birds which we think might have been dunlin – this is another important bird in the area – but sadly they were a bit far away to see properly.  We also spotted oyster catchers, a heron and could hear skylark on the sand dunes.

Anyway – I hope you enjoyed this little wander.  We aren’t actually managing to walk long distances at the moment but I’ll try and put some more wanderings up and also some links in case you feel like a ramble yourselves – so today have a look at http://www.northumberlandcoastpath.org – the coast path is 62 miles long and goes from Cresswell to Berwick-upon-Tweed and is on my list for when long rambles are back on the menu!

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Hopefully see you soon.

Julie xx

Beachcombing in North Berwick

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Hello!

Thanks to everyone for letting me know you are still there and reading! It was lovely to hear from so many people.  So we’ll keep going for a while and see how the walking goes….

Tomorrow we’re away to Pitlochry for a couple of days, it sounds like we’re meeting up with Storm Helene so not sure how much walking there will be – but there will be some pretty pictures!  And last week we took a trip to Dryburgh Abbey – one of my favourite local places to go.  However I’m saving that blog for after next weekend when we’re hopefully going back to watch a stonemason at work – maybe he’ll let me have a go!

Anyway – yesterday we took a trip to North Berwick – about an hour away and my favourite beach to walk along.  It was very windy!! We managed a couple of miles each way and then forced ourselves to eat fish and chips before heading home with pockets full of shells and bits of pottery….


North Berwick east along the beach to Longskelly Point and back (4 miles)

Just before we reached North Berwick, as we drove past Tantallon Castle, we could look out to Bass Rock and see the thousands of birds – mostly gannets – swirling and diving all around it so we stopped for some pictures:

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Bass Rock – you have to look really closely but all those white dots around the rock are gannets – and the rock is covered in them – its where they live.

The tide was out so we managed to walk the whole way without having to resort to scrambling up and through the golf course.  I was impressed with how little plastic I saw on the beach, there was lots of wood – planks washed in from the sea which Mr RR coveted – and some large tree trunks, but mostly sand, shells and seaweed – just as it should be.

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North Berwick beach looking back towards Berwick Law

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I tried to identify some of these shells – but impossible without bringing some home and measuring them and peering at them in detail!  Maybe next time.

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Seaweed – another identification project for a rainy day!

Here’s a collection of stuff we brought home with us:

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Yes….a pair of spectacles! Mr RR is very pleased with them and says they are better than his own! (if they’re yours, just say and we’ll post them on!).

We didn’t bring this home with us – just thought it looked good:

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There are a chain of islands in the Firth of Forth in addition to Bass Rock:

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Craigleith – meaning Rock of Leith, also home to bird colonies including about 28,000 pairs of puffins – but historically a rabbit breeding warren where the rabbits were bred for food.

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The Lamb – very small and apparently locally known now as Uri’s island as it was purchased by Uri Geller in 2009 for £30,000 because he believed Egyptian treasure was buried there.  He spent a day there but has never returned!

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Fidra – an RSPB Scotland Nature Reserve.  The lighthouse was built in 1885. The island is said to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

There were plenty of gulls of course:

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and gannets:

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also a redshank:

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The Macmillan Fieldguide to Bird Identification says this is ‘a rather dumpy, featureless wader’ – hmm…I think he’s quite lovely!

There was a crow sitting on a lichen covered rock very photogenically:

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and a pied wagtail who really didn’t want his picture taken!

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My feet had gone far enough by this time so we hobbled back into town stopping for a look over the harbour walls and to find out about the Lobster Hatchery – a project implemented to repopulate the Forth with a sustainable source of lobsters

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Then it was time for fish and chips!  See you next time.

 

 

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Budle Bay near Bamburgh, Northumberland

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Hello,

It was April 2017 when I last posted on here and as I’ve just had a reminder from wordpress that my annual subscription is due….I thought I’d see if anyone was still out there!

Lots of stuff going on in the last year, none of which I’m talking about here except to say that my ricketiness has extended to my feet – which is pretty poor news for a walker!  However, I have a lovely acupuncturist who is working hard to help me get better and today Mr RR and I did our first good walk for a long time.  It was going to be just 4 miles and ended up being nearly 7 (!) which is probably a bit more than I wanted to do….but we made it back (well I hobbled) to Bamburgh for tea and shortbread which is the important thing!

Anyway – let me know if you’re reading and I’ll see if I recover enough to try another ramble later this week.


Sunday, September 9th 2018

Bamburgh to Budle Bay circular (7 miles – which included some wandering about the beach)

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The Lindisfarne Nature Reserve in Budle Bay:

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Home to hundreds of birds but it was really difficult to take pictures because of the high winds and also my failure to charge my camera before we left home!

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Curlew

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Oyster Catcher

The kite surfers were worth seeing too:

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And across the bay – Holy Island.

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The tides were all wrong for us to visit Holy Island today.

See you again soon hopefully!

J x

Lilliesleaf and The Riddell Estate

12th April 2017

Mr RR and I had a lovely ramble around Lilliesleaf and The Riddell Estate last week along with Nancy and Chris.  It was a good day – it stayed dry and there was some blue in the sky, lambs in the fields and a coffee shop called the Jammy Coo at the end!  What more could you want?

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Okay – so the sky wasn’t blue at this point…but there are lambs!

We started in the lay-by opposite the church (a very important point according to Nancy and Chris!) in Lilliesleaf, a pretty village in between Melrose and Selkirk. Wikipedia tells us that the current population of Lilliesleaf is 301 – I’m not sure if it really is…..maybe someone’s had a baby since that was written! Continue reading

Abbotsford circular via Cauldshiels Loch

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A nearly 5 mile circular from Sir Walter Scotts House visiting Cauldshiels Loch on the way.  You can read about the walk which we’ve done before, here: Two Lochs and some views .  It was May last time we walked here and there were lots of wild flowers about.  It was too early for those this time, we saw some hawthorn just coming into flower and the wild garlic is budding up now but that was about it. Continue reading

Coldingham and St Abbs

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Coldingham Sands from the Coast Path

26th March 2017

Well, it’s been a while but yesterday we ventured out in the beautiful spring sunshine and did a 7 mile circular walk from Coldingham via St Abbs Head.  You can read more about walks we did in the area here: Coldingham Walk ; and more about St Abbs Head and Mire Loch here: St Abbs Head.

So today we did the whole circuit combining the Coldingham and St Abbs Head walks, in the glorious sunshine and accompanied most of the way by the incessant guttural cacophony from thousands and thousands of Guillemot which were perched precariously all along the rocky coast. Continue reading