Freesteel Blog » St Abbs 2005


St Abbs Long Weekend — October 2005

We sneaked off a week before the club’s planned major expedition with their boats to St Abbs in November. I insisted that I couldn’t do less than three days, because it’s too far. I don’t like this burning rubber to the other end of this island merely for a day and a half of weekend. It’s too much work, and there’s not that much work to do back at home. Anyway, it turned out that the best weather was on Friday, and the Sunday was completely blown out, and the Saturday should have been as well, but the skipper was pretty good and knows his tides.

Having had half our dive gear stolen from the garage last month, we were using club equipment, including a drysuit which leaked in the foot. Mustn’t grumble. At least we took our kayaks. Partly I was using this trip for a reccie to find out how approachable this area would be for a proper kayaking expedition when the weather is decent.

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Lowering gear down into The Selkie, the skipper let the soft rope slip through his hard hand.

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It was beautiful along West Hurker rock. It was before low tide and the currents were not strong on the north side of St Abb’s head. At least that’s the rule of thumb I’m going to work with until proved wrong.

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This octopus posed for a photo, the tips of its curled tenticles quivering.

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There was a nasty infestation of brittle stars on the dead men’s fingers in deeper waters. They form a continuous mat that smothers everything.

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In afternoon while the weather was still good and we tried a dive in a not-so-good place (I couldn’t read the map properly), found nothing, carried the anchor along on too short a rope. We went right back up after ten minutes underwater and then paddled over for another dive beyond Cathedral Rock, which would have been great if it wasn’t so dark and dingy..

On Saturday there was a heavy swell, even though the weather wasn’t too awful. We’d had dinner in Eyemouth, walking in through the rain from the B&B, and ate at a pub on the harbour. We did one dive at 2pm after the tide had turned on Black Carr Rock. The waves towed us forwards and back along the reef many metres at a time, even when we were 20 metres down. Getting out of the water into the boat was even more exciting.

I’ve taken video footage with my camera, but my webspace isn’t up to hosting it yet.

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The lobster did not pose for its photo, and dug its way deeper into its crack.

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Brittle stars are beautiful in limited numbers.

We sensibly went surfing in the afternoon. Two hard kayaks and one inflatable was enough fun for five people because you didn’t get too knackered before it gets dark. We’d had lunch of excellent soup in the St Vedas Hotel. I will go back there again.

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Coldingham Sands is a surprising good surf spot. Then in the evening we had a mighty fine curry behind this statue in the middle of Eyemouth.


  • Coldingham Bay Surfcam Just a couple of kilometres south of St Abbs where there is plenty of surfing.
  • Coldingham Sands Youth Hostel Disappointingly tiny pictures on the webpage of a place I’m going to want to stay at an canoe from. A whole week of diving is possible out of here without moving the car.
  • Redhall Cottage A very good B&B with very nice breakfasts with a little too much animation in their webpage. Look under “photo gallery” to see a picture of St Abbs headland.

Julian Todd 2005-10-20