Wednesday, June 29, 2016

On the beach

Monday saw me on the other side of the country, on the beach near Scoughall, south of North Berwick. A picnic lunch, with this view of the Bass Rock.

Peffer Sands is a beautiful beach, flanked by high dunes.

Amazingly, I had the whole beach to myself!


Where the Peffer Burn reaches the sea.

This is what remains of a WW2 observation post, built of brick and concrete. I'm thinking that at one point it would have been atop the dunes.

It was a perfect place to be, and a lovely day to be here.

These concrete blocks were WW2 anti-tank coastal defences, which were put in place on sandy beaches all along the east coast of the country, with the prospect of a German invasion. The blocks in this photo are no-longer in situ, having been moved and piled up here, near Scoughall Rocks, presumably to be a barrier to the erosion of the small headland behind.

One can see how these were constructed, on examining this one which is lying on its side. On the right is the base which would have been buried in the sand. Above ground the concrete cube measured approx 6 feet on each side. The striations show how the concrete would have been poured in layers. Considering how many of these things were built, it must have been a huge effort.

A little further down the coast, south of the Peffer Burn, these anti-tank blocks are still in place.

I was last here at Scoughall in the early 1960s. I have no photos of that time, only rather vague memories. I do recall campfires on the beach!

In my early teens I attended a Scripture Union camp here at Scoughall. This could have been the very field, which would have had canvas bell tents and marquees. It was a wonderful experience for this city youngster.

The Scripture Union still runs camps on the site, see here. There are more permanent facilities now, so not all need to be under canvas, and there are opportunities for indoor activities should the weather be unpleasant.

I had a pleasant chat with two students who will be working all summer here, and who were getting things ready for the first campers arriving in July.

I hope that campers in 2016 will have a similar enjoyable, challenging and enriching experience as I had as a fourteen year old.
Photos © Skip Cottage


  1. Good to see your photos and hear of reminiscences. I went for a walk in the Blairvaich Forest recently with friends, and visited the old house that Scripture Union used - a midge infested place if ever there was one - though like you I have good memories. We also visited the Duchray Water where we used to swim under a waterfall. We chatted that we had not been back to that site for 45 years!

  2. Hi Gary
    Thanks for this, and for prompting even more memories. Would you believe that I was with the first 'advance party' when Blairvaich first came into SU hands, mid 1960s I think? Sheep droppings were feet deep on the floor and all had to be cleared out, and a lot of work done to make the place habitable. I once stayed there for a few days, completely alone, and with no contact with the world outside. Now that was an experience! I wish I could remember exactly when that was. I understand it's been much modernised and now in private hands. I did think recently of going back up - if only to take pics of the aqueducts. I used to love that part of the world. Stayed often in the Loch Ard youth hostel when I was at school, and more recently as you well know there was the curling rink at Forest Hills. Thanks for stimulating the memories. Bob