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Day 7 – The Berwickshire Coastal Path

After a restful night at Rhovanion B&B in Coldingham, David and I laced up our hiking boots, grabbed our trekking poles and headed towards the coast.

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Today we’d be exploring a portion of the Berwickshire Coastal Path – a 28-1/2 mile hiking route which works its way from Cockburnspath to Berwick – taking in dramatic cliff top scenery complete with arches, stacks and crumbling castles.

With the second highest cliffs on the east coast of Scotland, this area boasts one of the most dramatic coastlines in Britain. 

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A scenic one-mile walk down the Creel Path from Coldingham to St. Abbs would connect us to the main coastal route, where we’d be making a 4-mile loop that would take us past St. Abb’s Head and Pettico Wick before returning us to the Visitor’s Center.

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The Creel Path has a long history, having been in daily use for over a thousand years. It is said that men from Fisher’s Brae in Coldingham worked their boats from St. Abbs shore and carried their fishing gear down the well worn pathway, later returning with creels of fish.

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One portion of the path had me feeling like I’d just entered Hobbiton – complete with an enclosed canopy that created this amazing circular tunnel.

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From ancient times, until the early twentieth century the east coast of Scotland was home to a massive herring industry, with tens of thousands of workers migrating – often on foot – up and down the coast following the herring shoals and the attendant fishing fleet. 

It was amazing to think that we were walking the same route, but this time, out of pure enjoyment.

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Our first glimpse of St. Abbs, Scotland. Even on this overcast day, the green fields were vibrant!

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Starting down the Berwickshire Coastal path.

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We arrived in St. Abbs to find this quaint little harbor with it’s extensive set of sea walls – protecting it from the fury of the North Sea.

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A view to the north, past the harbor and towards the rocky coastline. 

The scenery is dramatic and quite beautiful, but the sea has a wildness about it that even this lovely day can’t disguise.

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A large and well-placed estate perched high above the rocky coastline.

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After heading around the massive estate, we found ourselves at the start of the circular route.

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Entering the St. Abb’s Head National Nature Preserve

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This picture doesn’t quite capture the beauty nor the height of these rocky promontories. 

Not being a lover of heights, I found myself praying that I wouldn’t be blown off the cliff top by a large gust of wind – an unfortunate but common accident.

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After climbing steadily uphill, we were amply rewarded with an amazing view of St. Abb’s harbor.

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Lovely but dangerous dropoffs!

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You may not be able to tell from this photo, but the cliffs depicted here are about 60 meters (over 180 feet) tall.

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Watching a dive boat out on the water. This area offers some of the best diving in all of Britain.


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More colonies of sea birds nesting on the cliffs and in the crags.

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Looking south towards St. Abbs – the view from up here was amazing!

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On the coastal path and arriving at St. Abb’s Head lighthouse – situated on a rocky promontory approximately 80 meters (240 feet) above sea level.

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An aerial view of the coastline and the lighthouse (not taken by me) that adequately depicts the ruggedness of the coast.

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Meeting some furry friends along the way.

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Chatting with some others folks who had walked up from St. Abb’s harbor for a bit of bird watching.

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Looking north to Tun Law Forts – the highest cliffs on the Berwickshire coast.

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Our first glimpse of Pettico Wick Bay…beautiful!

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Another view of Pettico Wick…simply stunning!

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In the foreground, the hillsides are covered in wild flowers.  In the background, the hillsides are covered with tiny cows!

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Coming down off the hills and towards the path that’ll take us to the visitor’s center.

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Taking a fiver at a quaint little cafe in St. Abb’s while waiting for our Cullen Skink – a soup made with smoked haddock.

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David taking one last look at the harbor before heading back to our B&B in Coldingham.

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Back on the Berwickshire Coastal path – this time headed south towards Coldingham Bay. 

I fell in love with this beautiful home, boasting an amazing view of the North Sea.

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Coldingham Bay and its secluded and awarding-winning beach –  popular with the local surfers!

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Another glimpse of Coldingham Bay beach. Can you see the surfers on their boards?

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As I’m writing this blog post, I find myself still haunted by one particular image from that day on the Berwickshire coast. While walking through St. Abbs, David & I came upon this bronze cast- a memorial –  depicting a group of women and children looking out towards the sea.  As fate would have it, this coast of Scotland suffered a tragic maritime accident that surpassed even the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Black Friday, October 14, 1881 commemorates the worst fishing disaster in Scotland’s history.  A ferocious hurricane devastated the fishing fleet off the east coast and claimed 189 lives.

This hauntingly beautiful sculpture (one of four) was created to depict the exact number of women that were widowed (93) and children left fatherless (267) – looking out to sea for their loved ones that never returned.

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TO BE CONTINUED…

 

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Day 6 – Meandering into Scotland

Today marks our final day in England and our last morning at Fenham Farm Coastal B&B. In preparation for the day, we headed for the breakfast room to fill up on another delicious English breakfast before a busy day of exploring.

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The main house is in the background…the lovely breakfast room…in the foreground.

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All set up and ready for breakfast.

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A wonderful room with coastal accents and lots of information for the curious traveler.

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The innkeepers – Watty & Gill Curry – a lovely husband and wife team…and part of the family of Christ!

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Saying goodbye to Fenham Farm – our favorite place to stay!

Farne Island - Glad Tidings 6

If today had gone as planned, you would have found David and I aboard the Glad Tidings – a tour boat harbored in Seahouses, England – that would have taken us to the Farne Islands for a day of bird watching.

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Located right off the Northumberland coastline near Bamburgh, the Farne Islands are one of Europe’s most important seabird sanctuaries. The islands are home to more than 20 different species, including puffins, eider ducks and three species of tern. Many of the birds are extremely confiding and visitors can enjoy close views. 

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Both David and I were hoping to see our first puffin, but this was not to be!  With rain in the air and wind whipping up a lot of wave action in the North Sea, all boat tours were cancelled for the day. 

As a second choice, we decided to meander through the English countryside, starting our day at Bamburgh Castle just south of Holy Island and offering a commanding view of the Northumberland coastline.

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Coming around a bend in the road, this is the first view we got of the massive castle.

Spanning nine acres of land on its rocky plateau high above the Northumberland coastline Bamburgh is one of the largest inhabited castles in the country.

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Once home to the kings of ancient Northumbria, Bamburgh Castle is one of Northumberland’s most iconic buildings. 

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Entering the castle grounds through the impressive gatehouse.

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A small section of the inner ward…heading towards one of the many entry doors!

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A bronze cast of the entire castle and extensive grounds.

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One of the displays in the China Room.

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More china…very similar to the Spode Tower I use at home.

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Entering the King’s Hall.

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What a spectacular room. You don’t see this everyday!

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North end of the King’s Hall.

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Helmets from the armory.

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Can you imagine this? Even the horses wore armor at one time!

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You can’t really tell from this angle, but the people who wore these suits of armor must have been very small.  Most appear almost child-size to me.

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A lovely sitting room with spectacular views.

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Deep in the lower levels of the castle…the main well is located right behind David’s right shoulder.

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An amazing array of weaponry – spears, swords, rifles and crossbows.

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And of course….every castle must have it’s dungeons.

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These torture chambers were much more gruesome than I had imagined they would be.  I was happy to leave this sight behind!

To see an aerial view of Bamburgh Castle, you can watch the video below:

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With the weather getting more blustery and the rain now falling in earnest, we decided to head inland to the small, rural village of Wooler.  We were hoping to visit a local art gallery, brimming with photos and handicrafts from local artisans. 

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Hmmm? Do we drive through this flooded roadway or don’t we? Of course we barreled crept through, but wondered what other surprises waited for us up ahead!

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This very ancient bridge most definitely was a surprise and could be accessed only one car at a time. Notice the sign…nothing wider than 2.0 meters could pass over the bridge.

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The lovely village of Wooler…looking down High Street.  Finding the art gallery closed for the day, we opted to walk around town and found a delightful place to eat lunch before heading north.

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Just a short way up the highway, we came upon this welcome sight… Scotland…we’re  finally here!

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Shortly after arriving in Scotland, the sun decided to show its lovely face!  It turned out to be a perfect day for visiting Eyemouth Harbor and Gunsgreen House – a historic house like no other.

Built in 1753 by notorious smuggler John Nisbet, the architecture included a number of secret hiding places where Nisbet housed his smuggled goods. The most smuggled item was tea, and the house contains a ‘tea chute’ right through it’s core where the leaves were stored away from prying eyes.

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Sunny day, but still a little chill in the air.

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Looking back up the River Eye towards Gunsgreen House.

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A friendly harbor seal that came in for a closer view!

Leaving Eyemouth, we headed a few miles inland to Coldingham where we would be spending a couple of nights at Rhovanion B&B.

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What started as a gray and gloomy day, had now turned into a beautiful and sunny evening and a perfect time for a stroll to the beach.

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There’s nothing better than a light supper by the seaside…

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…especially when this is the view before you!

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TO BE CONTINUED…

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Filed under England, My Travels, Scotland