Tag Archives: nature

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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


Starting down the Berwickshire Coastal path.


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.


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.


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


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


Entering the St. Abb’s Head National Nature Preserve


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.


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


Lovely but dangerous dropoffs!


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


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


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


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


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.


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


Meeting some furry friends along the way.


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


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


Our first glimpse of Pettico Wick Bay…beautiful!


Another view of Pettico Wick…simply stunning!


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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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Filed under My Travels, Scotland

How great is our God?

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”  Psalm 19:1

In overwhelming gratitude….

56 .  As I think about the heavens and about what Your fingers have created;
how You made the moon and stars and  have set them  in their place.


Filed under My Gratitude

Sleepless in Seattle

My husband once accused me of marrying him for his money.  He was a teacher…in a very small school…obviously he was joking!

I knew when I married him that teaching was not the highest paying profession. But I was proud of him and the career choice he’d made and I firmly believed that kids in small schools needed good teachers too. So big D. and I decided early on in our marriage, that we would not let the lack of monetary means prevent us from having a good life. We’d find a small home, try to budget wisely and figure out a way to travel with our kids…something we both desired to do.  We would never have an abundance of money, but because big D. was a teacher we had the next best thing – an entire summer off from work!  He once told me that – apart from being with kids all day – the three greatest things about teaching were June, July and August.  I’d have to agree with him.

Our family trips began the summer after our first daughter was born.  We kept it simple – tent camping with friends at Crystal Lake in central Wisconsin – little E. scuttling around the dusty campsite in her baby walker. At days end, I’d heat upwater on the camp stove and bathe our grubby baby in a plastic dish tub – a tradition that would go on for years!

At the end of August we ventured up the North Shore of  Lake Superior to Judge C. R. Magney State Park .  During the day we’d hike and fish the streams – E. in a pack on one of our backs.  At night,  we crammed a portable crib into a 3-man tent while David and I and our dog, Kelly, curled up along the outer edges.  After 2 nights of little sleep, we splurged and spent a night at Naniboujou – an historic lodge near Grand Marais on the shores of Lake Superior. All in all, the camping trips went well and I was ready to tackle something new.

The following summer, when E. was not yet 2, we packed up our white Toyota pick-up truck and headed out West on a real road trip.  Exactly 1034 miles later we parked ourselves in Whitehall, Montana where we visited with family and spent a couple of days fly fishing for trout on the Madison River near Yellowstone.  Here we discovered a gorgeous river canyon with braided trout streams that I fondly call, The Great Valley.  After a week of visiting, we hugged and kissed and said our goodbyes and we headed back to Minnesota, waiting for another school year to begin.

These trips out West became our summertime routine and for the next four years, our vehicle would travel the exact same 1034 miles that it had the year before. We’d visit with family, spend a day or two fly fishing and then we’d head back to Minnesota.  In 1993, our traveling itinerary began to change.  It all started out rather innocuously – with a viewing of the movie, Sleepless in Seattle. I don’t know why this silly movie affected me as it did, but by the following summer I knew that our vehicle, now a gray Honda Accord, had to continue west to Seattle and the Puget Sound. I’m not sure what drew me to the mighty Pacific, but I can honestly say that I was compelled to go.

When August arrived, we packed up our tent, sleeping bags, camping gear and the dog and we out headed West again. After stopping in to Whitehall for a short visit, we continued on. Knowing absolutely nothing about Seattle or Washington for that matter, we made a pit stop in Spokane and picked up a couple of guide books.  As big D. drove the remaining 279 miles to Seattle, I threw together an itinerary of places to go and things to see.  Funny thing about plans…sometimes they don’t work out…at all!

Upon our arrival in Seattle, the plan was to take a ferry ride across the Sound to Whidbey Island and find a state park campground. As we got closer to the ferry terminal in Mukilteo, we discovered that the waiting line for the ferry was miles long and would take hours to get through.  Time for plan B. Wait a minute…there was no plan B!  Not knowing what else to do, we got back on the interstate and continued driving north.

Pulling out my guide book, I found another state park about 70 miles north of Seattle and called the park office to check on vacancy. Lucky for us, there was one campsite still available.  Actually, I don’t think luck had much to do with it. I think it was providential…an act of God…divine intervention!  We exited the interstate near Burlington and headed onto the scenic Chuckanut Drive which brought us to Larabee State Park and our campsite.

We set up camp in the late afternoon and settled in for a four-day stay.  While taking the girls to the shower house, we learned of a nature hike that would be taking place the following morning and decided to join the group. We went to bed that night, excited to see what the next day would bring!

The hike to the beach was long and arduous, but there were marvelous things to see along the way.  Slugs…really big slugs in various colors, inched their way across the trail! Yellow, black and brown slugs. Cinnamon-colored slugs. Slugs with stripes.  My kids were thrilled!   But it was upon our arrival at the beach that the real fun began.  We walked for hours – oohing and aahing the entire time. There was so much to see…so much to experience. In the water there were clams and beds of eel grass. And in those shallow beds of eel grass were Dungeness and red rock crabs, purple sea stars and orange sunflower stars. On the beach we found shells of all shapes and sizes and hermit crabs, tucked into their mobile homes.  It was truly amazing!

Liz with kelp

Purple Sea Star

Orange Sunflower Star

Tide pools on Clayton Beach

Girls in sea cave at low tide

We left Larabee four days later and as we traveled around the Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula, we  saw and experienced things that literally took our breath away. It was as if God had concentrated all this beauty and splendor in this one tiny corner of the country and we were being given a front-row seat for viewing it!

There were snow-capped mountains with vistas of the ocean below; temperate rain forests filled with moss-covered trees; islands that could only be reached by ferry and miles of beaches to be walked on and explored.

It’s been more than 15 years since that first trip we took to Washington. In the years since, we’ve been back countless times, discovering more of this beautiful world…finding more of His handiwork in the things He has created.

We’re planning on going back again this summer. This time we’ll be going with my brother and his wife and we hope to introduce them to the things we love to do most – wading in the eel grass beds and harvesting Dungeness crabs by hand; picking blackberries and canning jam to bring back to Minnesota; buying fresh fish, vegetables and fruit at the farmer’s market; riding the ferries out to the San Juan Islands.  We won’t be camping this time.  Instead, we’ve opted to rent a small vacation home – a stone cottage that was built in the 1950’s.  In case you’re interested, I’ve put a picture of it below.

This will be a new adventure for us and hopefully, one that will be restful. I have a feeling we’ll do just fine, as every evening we’ll be seeing this and counting our blessings!



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Filed under My Travels, Washington

Wednesday Wanderings…

Florida Keys


Filed under Florida, Wednesday Wanderings