Before I came back down to Yorkshire, my sister and I arranged a get together, in North Berwick, about half an hour east of Edinburgh. I picked Jean up at her house and we drove out to the coast, passing this wonderful 16th century tower house, Fenton Tower, on the way. It was restored about 10 years ago as exclusive guest accommodation, having lain empty for over 350 years. Take a look at the website to see what a wonderful job has been done! You need loads o’ money to stay here!
We came down the hill past Berwick Law (a conical volcanic plug. You can read about its story here. There’s a replica whalebone arch on the top, replacing a succession of arches that have been up there since the early 1700s) and into the town. It’s a busy little town centre, but we found a parking space pretty much outside the gallery and cafe where Jean had suggested we have lunch. After lunch we took a walk along the main street , looking in shop windows and dropping in to the charity shops to see if we could find any bargains, but I was keen to see the sea! I love the sea! We walked along to the links and found a bench to sit on for a while, where we could look along the west beach to the harbour.
Jean took a photo of me so I retaliated with one of her, so, folks who don’t know her, this is my sister!
After a while looking out to Craigleith, Lamb Island (which belongs to Yuri Geller), and Fidra, all volcanic plug islands, we reckoned it was time for a cup of tea. Over in the next bay, beyond the harbour is the Seabird Centre, which has a nice cafe overlooking the east bay(Milsey Bay) so that’s where we headed for.
We chose a table out on the decking, overlooking the sea and the Bass Rock as well as the beach and seafront. This little sculpture was new, the little bronze seal pup on a rock just over the wooden railing. There was a plaque on the railing commemorating Sandy the seal, 1996 – 2012. I take it that Sandy was a familiar figure around the bay, and that he must have died earlier this year……. Actually, the story isn’t so poignant! I looked him up on Google and found that he’s no seal in particular, just one in general, to represent the “diversity of wildlife” in the area! He’s still very cute! Looking to the right of Sandy the seal you can see the beach and the children’s swimming pool; the sea front houses that would once probably have been guest houses for the visitors from Edinburgh and its surroundings, in the 19th century, and part of the town with a bit of the Seabird Centre building on the right. The hill in the distance is Berwick Law, the volcanic hill with the jawbone arch on the top. When we were youngsters Jean and I came out here with Mum and Dad quite often in the summer. We’ve built sandcastles on that beach, played in the swimming pool, and had ice-creams from the cafe that used to be in the large white and blue building to the right of the church steeple. It’s now the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s shop. This is the view back to the seabird centre, the building on the right. The road past the cottages on the left takes you down to the harbour. In the centre is the War Memorial, and behind it is the site of a monastery. There are some foundations left, and the little white building immediately to the left of the street light was the porch of the church. However, there must have been a great deal of erosion going on as most of the church actually collapsed into the sea, to the right of the picture, way back around the 1600s.
North Berwick is a lovely place to wander round, with pretty cottages in little side streets, attractive independent shops in the main street, and smart boats in the harbour area. The Seabird Centre has great displays of sealife and cameras on the Bass Rock relaying back images of the gannet colony and the other birds that nest over there. Picnic on the beach? Ice cream vans always do a roaring trade. Take a trip round the Bass (rhymes with mass and lass). Loads to do here, but we didn’t have time to do any more. Back to the car and home, dropping Jean off on the way, but I’m sure to be there again before too long.
Talk again soon.