Cove Harbour & The Scottish Borders: Autumn, 2017

Most years, during the changeover from Summer to Autumn, Lisabet and I like to explore different parts of Scotland that we’ve never been to before. This has lead to incredible trips to places like the Isle of Skye, Glencoe, Applecross, and more … and it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling to think that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the sheer scope and variety of what Scotland has to offer. 

This year we split a two-week trip into two distinct locations of Scotland: Cove Harbour and the Scottish Borders, followed by the Isle of Arran. 

The coast of the Scottish Borders is a fascinating place. Sedimentary rocks from 400+ million years ago clash with harder volcanic crags that, when subject to historical glaciation and the relentless pummelling from the North Sea, has created a coast of sheer cliffs, jagged sea stacks, steep gullys, and unusual formations (all especially visible at St. Abbs Head). 

Geologically, the coast of the Scottish Borders is world-famous, particularly Siccar Point; this is the site where James Hutton found gently sloping beds of red sandstone above vertical beds of greywacke, proof of his Plutonist theories of uniformitarian and the revelation of the true age of the Earth. 

Cove and its natural harbour was our base for the 1st week of this trip, a sleepy coastal village that enjoys panoramic views of the North Sea and all its cliffs and bays. The harbour is now privately owned by an Edinburgh-based architect, but was once a busy fishing port. It features stunningly red cliffs, a sandy beach, finned volcanic intrusions that form a rail-like curve leading away from the harbour, and otherworldly sea stacks. As well as the harbour, we also explored the more tourist-friendly Pease Bay with its expansive beach and ruby red sandstone cliffs, and returned for a second visit to St. Abbs, drenched in a soupy mist. 

Photographically, and compositionally, this area had its challenges, particularly in balancing between shooting the obvious and the obscure. Cove’s finned intrusions form a beautiful curve that’s difficult to ignore for compositions, but there are also opportunities for different compositions around Red Rock: Cove Harbour’s incredible sea stack. For that, you need to navigate seaweed- and moss-covered boulders around the foot of a cliff at low tide. 

Undoubtedly, Cove is a place I’m sure we’ll return to again and again. And each time we do so, I hope my understanding of this unique area deepens and is reflected in my compositions. For now, here is what I found and enjoyed.