This is the second of our Looking Back posts. This time we are looking back at another one of our popular walks, Coldingham and St Abbs.
We knew when we checked this walk out that it was a good one. The scenery is not just good but spectacular. This walk is the only one we’ve done that is wholly in Scotland, just. Despite being farther away than the other walks, it is well worth it the journey.
The start – St Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve Visitor Centre
Just outside of St Abbs, the Nature Reserve Visitor Centre is a great place to start. There is very little parking in St Abbs and there are toilets and a cafe here. Unfortunately, the cafe was closed when we arrived, so we went into St Abbs and found The Old School Cafe, where we had breakfast before heading back to the start to meet the others.
The fifteen of us set off along the road to St Abb’s Head. It was a little chilly but the sun was out and it was a lovely day. The walk out to Pettico Wick is an easy one and a very pleasant one. It even has the very pretty Mire Loch on the way.
Mire Loch is actually man made. It sits in a fault that separates the hard volcanic rocks of St. Abbs Head from the softer sedimentary rocks of the mainland. Originally, it was a bog, but in 1900 a dam was built to create the loch and a recreation area was created, with fishing in the loch and a golf course. The fishing and golf have gone but the loch remains.
There were plenty of gorse bushes along the path by the loch. April is right in the middle of the gorse flowering season, so there was a distinct smell of coconut in the air.
Soon we arrived at Pettico Wick, the peculiarly named bay at the end of Mire Loch. This is an old harbour and the pier still exists. It is popular with divers and sea anglers and is also the location for the classic photograph of this area.
This was deemed to be the place for the group photo, so we all lined up and Julie took the picture.
At this point we had to climb a little up to St Abb’s Head. Martin joked that there were two routes up, either round on the road or straight up the hill, expecting everyone to laugh and go up the road. To his surprise, the majority said straight up the hill. Checking they were sure, off we went. Julie took the rest of the group on the road.
St Abb’s Head
Once at the top, and avoiding the rabbits that were everywhere, we met up with the rest. The views up here are tremendous and after admiring them for a short time, our stomachs took over and we headed to the hill behind St Abb’s Head lighthouse for lunch.
Onto St Abbs
Suitably refuelled, we set off along the incredibly rugged coastline of St Abb’s Head. It’s a bit up and down but never boring.
Eventually, we arrived in the village. St Abbs is a lovely fishing village with a working harbour. Before heading down to the harbour, there is a place high above and overlooking it, by the St Abbs Visitor Centre. We settled here for a while and admired the view and the artwork.
We headed down the stairs, between the houses, to the harbour. It was busy with fishermen and tourists, so we didn’t spend much time here. The path led up through the houses on the other side of the village and back to the coastal path.
Our next venue was Coldingham Bay. It’s only a short distance from St Abbs and is clearly a place of recreation for locals. There is a cafe and it is actually very popular with surfers.
We’re Nordic Walkers and we always enjoy a beach. So, we took advantage of it and got a bit of pace up.
Along the coast
At the other end of Coldingham Bay, we rounded the headland and descended to a little bridge and a small rocky bay. Ruth obliged by staying at the top to take a photo of us on the bridge.
At the end of the bay we had to climb up to the top of the next headland and walked along the coastal path until we came to the next bay. This was a bit more sandy than the last one and seemed to be the place where all kinds of flotsam and jetsam accumulated. Interesting bits of rope and the odd crab pot were lying about.
Inland to Coldingham
We took a path up to the right. It had been a bit wet, so the path was a little boggy. Luckily, this was the only bit like this. We all made it to the top though and there was a lovely seat, conveniently situated, for a rest.
The next bit was a path through fields towards Coldingham. Unfortunately, the farmer was working in the field and a cloud of dust followed his tractor. We’d split into two groups and the first one avoided the dust storm but the second was engulfed. It didn’t do them any harm though.
Further on we took a path behind the main road into Coldingham. It arrived at a gate into Coldingham Priory, where we rested for another snack. Some even ventured into the village for supplies.
Coldingham Priory is a tranquil place. The remnants of the original Priory are visible in a garden that is decorated with stones carved with phrases. The current church is the renovated choir of the priory.
The Creel Path
The path back to St Abbs took us along a little burn and up onto the main road. Then we followed the Creel Path. This is a path that the monks and residents of Coldingham used long ago to carry their fishing gear, including their creels, to the harbour at St Abbs. This was before the village of St Abbs came into existence of course.
This path took us directly into St Abbs and onto the street where The Old School Cafe resides. We stopped off of course and were even able to sit outside in the warm sun. A nice way to round off the day.
We hope you enjoyed looking back on Coldingham and St Abbs, why not take a look at the previous one, “Looking back on Warkworth to Amble“. Stay safe and look out for the next one.
Julie and Martin
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