Coldingham, St Abbs and Wild Swimming

June 20, 2021 5 min read

It’s the morning after my latest trip in the caravan and feel the need to write it now as I’m a bit war weary but in a warm fuzzy way.  To say the weather was wild would be an understatement.  Over the 2 nights I’d be lucky to have got 8 hours sleep.  There were a few reasons - the wind was so strong I’m convinced I actually felt one side of the caravan lift up, I let the dog sleep with me who always ends up taking up the whole bed and yes, I have a heater, but due to said gale force winds there were some almighty drafts whistling through the caravan, so I wore my woolly hat all night.  However, don’t be mislead this was such a wonderful trip away and possibly for all those reasons.

 Caravanning in the North of England

I went to a site near the villages of Coldingham and St Abbs just over the Scottish border.  The site was on top of a hill over looking the sea and so this trip was all about the elements and I truly saw them all.   From thick fog to clear blue skies, this stunning seacape really showed itself off.  I’m reading a really interesting book about the sea at the moment and so everything was aligned(totally by accident) for a memorable trip.  The book is Salt on Your Tongue by Charlotte Runcie:

“The call of the sea is the call to the absolute strength of women, telling their stories and making music of beauty and imagination, and eternal mothers and grandmothers making eternal daughters and rocking them in the night as they sing while the tide comes and goes.”

Salt on your tongue

Wild swimming will always be a big part of my trips and as it’s not always safe to swim on your own I reached out to a local group of swimmers to see if anyone would like to meet for a dip.  This is definitely one of the reasons why I love wild swimming.  The community is growing, it’s welcoming and just gorgeous.  So on Thursday I met a complete stranger at Eyemouth Bay, which is just down the road and had lovely swim in the bay.  The first thing I noticed is that sea was green and oh so crystal clear and it’s this colour all the way on is coastline.  I think due to the rock on the bed of the sea.  Anyway, it’s absolutely stunning and even though the wild weather was drawing in and the skies were grey, the sea was still green.  Thank you to Jo for meeting me.

Wild swimming

When I arrived on Thursday I could enjoy the view from the site across the fields to the sea, as the day went on the weather got worse and Baxter and I hunkered down for the night.  Opened the curtains in the morning and I could barely see the fence in front of the caravan, pea souper, I think is the best way to describe it!

A range of weather

I will not be deterred by the elements and I’m going to sound like my dad now, there’s no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothes….oh god help me it’s really happening…I might have even used a monocular to see the seabirds.  My Dad would be so proud!!!  I decided to walk up to St Abbs lighthouse and as you know I have the most adventurous dog…not…so I took Baxter for his constitutional and then left him in the caravan listening to 6 Music and I headed off for a wild walk along the coast. 

The girl can tow

I’m not sure I have the words or the writing skill to describe how this landscape made me feel, it’s stunning, wild, overwhelming, rugged, inhospitable, mesmerising and just beautiful in all weathers.  I’d bumped into the ranger at the car park and he recommended I go slightly past the lighthouse and I would be greeted with a monumental landscape full of a variety of seabirds braving the elements.  And he wasn’t wrong!  Sitting far enough back to be safe I just took it all in and oh boy did I feel small and insignificant!  It was awe inspiring and if you enjoy the outdoors, walking and nature I would say this place should be at the top of your list for places to visit.  Apparently this time of year is good for the seabirds as their nesting and the ranger also recommended coming back mid to late November as that’s when the seal colonies gather.  I’ll be booking in straight after I’ve finished writing this.

North East coast

Back to the caravan, another constitutional for Baxter and seriously battened down the hatches for a wild night in.  Do you that scene in Jurassic park where the glass of water is moving because of the weight of the dinosaur walking.  Well times that by 10 and that’s what my glass of beer looked like in the caravan! 

I’d like to say I woke up in the morning to open the curtains, but I’m not sure if actually got to sleep.  Anyway the sun was shining which helped.  Baxter wasn’t getting out of a little adventure so off we went to explore the village of St Abbs, which I have been reliably informed from a friend on an insta message, is actually twinned with the fictional place of New Asgard which was in the film, Avengers End Game which was filmed on the very cliffs I described earlier.  Everyday’s a schools day!

Lobster pots

St Abbs is a beautiful little fishing village, which is very quaint, but there’s always the magnificent, looming and wild coastline that takes that quaintness away.  And there’s a very moving memorial to a sea disaster at the port. Which is a timely reminder never ever to take the sea for granted.

After a quick wander we jumped in the car and went round to Coldingham Bay to have a look and contemplate a solo swim.  I knew from messages that no one local would be swimming so it was going to have to be a solo swim if I did and it was pretty wavy.  Parked the car walked down to Coldingham Bay and nearly set off at a run, fully clothed, to dive in the sea.  But I didn’t have my swim stuff, what should I do?

Coldingham Bay

Back to the caravan, get my swim stuff and go back to the beach to contemplate some more… contemplation over I went in.

What an amazing end to my trip, diving over and through the waves, in warm sunshine on a beautiful beach.  Full immersed in the elements and feeling oh so grateful.

I’ll be back, whatever the weather.

Katie Lee
Katie Lee


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