Days out in East Lothian: Boat trips from the Seabird Centre North Berwick – a mysterious journey…

Posted by Linda Maclaughlan on 04 August 2017

After a chance meeting, my future husband introduced me to East Lothian where he was living at the time. Described as the garden of Scotland (and I now know why) and with claims to be the sunniest place in Scotland the region had a lot to live up to and boy it didn’t disappoint!

I immediately fell in love with the place but one landmark totally mesmerised me, seemingly calling me to it every time I got even a glimpse of it. Id obviously seen it before many times but spending time in the region and hearing my husband telling me it was the plug for all the seas and oceans and if it was removed all the water on the planet would disappear down it (he’s got quite an imagination) only intrigued me further. This iconic landmark is of course The Bass Rock – a huge trachyte plug with three sides of sheer cliff and where over 150,000 gannets, the largest colony in the world, now call home . You can read more about the Bass Rock here.

One of my most favourite views in all of East Lothian has to be as you turn the corner at Canty Bay and you are met with the dramatic sight of Tantallon Castle with the massive Bass Rock in the background.

Once when we were staying at the beautiful Belhaven Chalet which has direct views to the Bass Rock the lighthouse that sits upon it was twinkling as it always does but seemingly sending out a signal to me.

The next day we headed round to North Berwick and to the Seabird Centre where I joined the queue for a boat that would take me right past this intriguing landmark. I stood in the queue and I could hear the very friendly staff member tell the lady in front they only had three seats left “oh no I thought” we are not getting on the boat today. Fortunately the lady said she’d come back and with us next in the queue the three of us purchased the last tickets and headed off to the boat.

With a warm welcome aboard from the Captain we chose three seats right at the back – hmmm perhaps you know where this is going!

Anyhow we set off towards the Bass Rock but what I didn’t realise there was a whole host of amazing sights to take in before we even reached our destination. The staff member on the boat was amazing giving us all the information about our journey and what we were about to see including the story of why world-famous mystifier Uri Geller bought the mysterious Island of Lamb which we could see in the distance. It is claimed to be one of the Great Pyramids of Scotland. The 3 Islands mirror the layout of the Pyramids of Giza near Cairo and also has links to King Arthur, King Robert the Bruce and to the ancient Kings of Ireland too! Could this leyline explain the mysterious invisible path the Bass Rock was leading me along? You can read more of this fascinating story here


We headed out into the Firth of Forth towards Craigleith whilst Puffins swooped in to say hello and seals bobbed up and down in the water, watching us curiously. All this would have been fantastic in itself however as we approached the Bass Rock and craned our necks to look up at its sheer cliffs in awe at 150,000 or so gannets – the sight was truly amazing. The lighthouse that had twinkled at me the night before was there right in front of us and the noise (and the smell) of the gannets was overwhelming! Id often heard people say that the Bass Rock turns white because of all the bird poop. Now whilst this may be true to a certain extent its not bird poop that you are looking at it’s the white heads of 150,000 or so gannets that actually make it change colour and you only see the scale of this when you are right along side this huge igneous volcanic rock.


Reluctantly the boat turns back towards North Berwick and we look back to take the classic Bass Rock picture postcard photo.


The fun didn’t end here though as we sped towards North Berwick we realised why no one else had occupied the seats we took and after a lot of screaming and laughing we arrived back at the shore slightly damp to say the least.I cannot explain how fantastic this trip is and if you’d like to try it for yourself you can buy tickets at The Scottish Seabird Centre

Seabird Catamaran Cruise

  • Approx 1 hour cruise on our custom-built 55-seater catamaran
  •  Craigleith and the Bass Rock
  • Adult £17, child £9 (age 4 to 16 – 3 and under FREE), conc £15 (60+), family £47 (2 adults + 2 children), £8 per additional child (open to all ages)
  • Save money by purchasing your boat tickets and Discovery Centre tickets at the same time
  • JOINT TICKET PRICES: adult: £22.50, child £11.95, concession £18.95, family £62.75 (additional child £10.95).

We often stay at Belhaven Bay and at night I watch the light house as it continues to twinkle at me but with the knowledge that it has now shared some of its secrets – it still beckons however…….. Enjoy!

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