Monday, 15 June 2009

The Bass Rock

A fine Sunday morning saw Ken, Sarah and I setting from North Berwick for the Bass Rock. North Berwick is a very busy place of a weekend, but a tiny carpark beside the sailing club gives a handy spot for dropping off boats beside the beach. We launched alongside sailing boats and RNLI ribs.

The first step was along the coast to Tantallon Castle- a fine stretch of beaches and rocky outcrops with views out to our destination.

Just past Tantallon is the secret Seacliffe harbour, cut out of the Gegan rock in the 19th century. A narrow passage cut into solid rock leads to a tiny 12m square recess.

We stopped at the beach here before the short stretch of open water out to the rock.

Unfortunately the lens of my camera had become fogged up at some point around here, so my pictures of the rock itself are all rather blurred. It is, however, an impressive place to be. The gannets are everywhere, nesting on the cliffs (which rise to over 300 feet) and circling overhead. The noise and the smell are considerable.

Despite the calm day, the water on the east side was quite lively. It's only a short circumnavigation, though. The caves on the west had some young seals in them, so we beat a retreat to the east landing spot. Steps cut into the rock give a slightly awkward disembarkation. Leaving the boats bobbing in the Forth did give a spot of anxiety and a doubling up of knots and ropes.

It's not possible to explore the rock too far. Nor would you want to in the nesting season. Birds, chicks and eggs are everywhere. Around the landing spot these are mostly herring gulls, and they make their displeasure very apparent. Just to stand below the lighthouse is a fantastic experience, however. It feels incredibly remote and wild for a spot only a few miles from Edinburgh.
All too soon we were struggling into our boats (not an easy launch) and making a beeline for Berwick. Tide and wind were with us for a quick passage under darkening skies. The lightening started as were were driving off. A fine day out.

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