Sunday, 7 October 2012

Scotland's Doorstep

                               One of the big ships passing the Isle of May on its way into the Forth.

                             The Bell Rocks gleams in the afternoon sun, out in the North Sea.

 When we are on the top of the island we have what I think is one of the best views in Scotland. The Isle of May is in interesting position. It lies right in the jaws of the Forth, on the edge of the North Sea and slap bang in the middle of one of the most important seaways in Scotland. It means that like Janus it looks both ways and those views are a complete contrast.
To the east is wide open space. Nothing interrupts the view from between Stonehaven near Aberdeen and St. Abb's Head, close to the border with England, except on clear days the Bell Rock lighthouse. A wide expanse of ocean gives the feeling of being in a wild, untouched landscape that is good for the soul.
Looking to the west and you look into the very heart of Scotland. Leith docks, Arthur's Seat and the spires of Edinburgh are all visible plus the tops of the Forth road and rail bridges . The Forth is the sea road to Edinburgh but also Grangemouth and the Rosyth docks and so there is a continual flow of boat traffic past the island of all shapes and sizes that has gone on for hundreds of years. And this is why the island was chosen for the location of Scotland's oldest lighthouse and has been a lighthouse island for over 370 years.  It's position means that it is a place of watching during both wars with U-Boat detection, plane and boat observers all being based here.And now it watches the sea ecologically with the seabird and seal scientists monitoring the state of the sea from the island.
All of this is maybe why people like to visit it so much. It isn't just all the wonderful wildlife or the historical atmosphere but it is the feeling of being on an island on the edge of their known world. Look one way and you get comfort of seeing the capital city but look the other way and it is the best of wilderness. It isn't bad living on Scotland's doorstep.
                                                          Sunshine on Leith

                                         Arthur's seat and a glimpse of the city at it's foot.

                                 The cities biggest buildings catching the first sun of an autumn morning.

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