I’m in love. In love with the Scottish coast, the rough nature, the lively winds. If you don’t mind a bit of wind, walking along a golf field, or trespassing for a photo, you should definitely get a shot of the Bass Rock. You’ll fall in love with it too. Promise.
Before I left to Edinburgh this year in April, I was exploring area using Google Maps and 500px for potential landscape shots. And that’s when I discovered this gem of an island, the Bass Rock. What looks like a crispy 320 million years-old rock from afar, is actually the home of the largest colony of sea gannets. If you’re a passionate bird watcher, the Scottish Seabird Centre will surely be to your liking. Or so I think. I haven’t actually been inside because I was committed to reaching the viewpoint of my choice.
To reach the Bass Rock by public transport, take a train from Edinburgh to New Berwick. A return ticket will cost you round £7-8 (price in 2017). The journey is short with some truly magnificent views of the Scottish landscape. I’m sure taking a car is just as nice. Perhaps even nicer, but it was not an option for me, unfortunately.
Frankly speaking, I didn’t mind taking the train at all. If I had driven to New Berwick, I would have never walked to the Bass Rock but drive the whole way. I would have missed the beach and views of the Bass from the town. I also would have missed views of the town from the hiking trail. Where would all the fun be then? And what are those two miles to walk? Seriously. Not really a challenge, is it? In hindsight, this assumption wasn’t entirely correct.
TWO MILES ARE MORE THANK YOU THINK
The day at New Berwick started out nicely. I walked along a sandy beach where the sky seemed to touch the the waves, where thick clouds swam in the wide blue sea. And there, in the middle of it all, was the Bass Rock. It was absolutely marvellous. Almost unreal. I took several shots, once managing to sink deeply into the wet sand. Too focussed on my photography, I often disregarded the incoming tide. Good that I didn’t soak all my gear.
Leaving the beach you walk up onto a grassy hill with a great view of the colourful rows of houses of New Berwick. You take some shots and briskly walk towards that view of the Bass Rock, following the path below your feet. You walk for some time and marvel at the scenery. It takes you a while to actually comprehend where you’re walking. The edge of a golf field is perhaps not what you were expecting. You hike along the coast, walking down then up the steep grassy slopes while marvelling at the stunning views. You can’t help but think that the hike is longer than 2 miles and that it’s not just a walk after all.
At some point, however, the marked path ends and you’ll be crawling under trees and walking on grounds that look like private property. Still marvellous views, but significantly less enjoyable to walk. You could have just take the road and walk on the pavement. But then again, you would have missed the whole fun. And anyway, once you get across those fields, you’re be awarded with a stunning view of the Bass Rock that you wouldn’t be able to reach from the street.
GETTING THAT MAGNIFICENT SHOT
To get that stunning close up shot, you will need a 70-200mm lens (crop sensor specs). But any zoom lens with a 200+ mm range will do the job. At the time I only had my trusty 18-200mm Nikon travel lens – not the sharpest, but good enough for daylight photography.
If you’d like to have an even closer view, you can also book a boat trip to the Bass Rock. This is still an adventure on my bucket list, so I will definitely visit this location again, and hopefully have the chance to see a sunset too. As the last train leaves back to Edinburgh round 5pm, it was unfortunately not an option this time. Perhaps taking the car is not such a bad idea either. Nut make sure you park in town and walk the way to the Bass.
Despite the daylight, however, I’m still quite contended with my shot. Whenever I look at the print, it reminds me of a Dutch seascape from the 17th century. Beautifully painted blue cloudy skies swimming on a tranquil see.
BEFORE AND AFTER
As so often, the RAW file just looks awfully flat and dull, but the edited image manages to reflect the scene I perceived that day.
TECHNICAL SPECS AND GPS COORDINATES
Location: 56°03’33.2″N 2°39’16.7″W
Gear: Nikon D5300 • Nikon 18-200mm f4.5-5.6 • CLP filter • Matona ballhead travel tripod
Shot: 200mm • F11 • ISO 100
Software: Lightroom 6, Photoshop CC, Nik Collection Color Efex Pro 4
If this got you interested in Scotland, perhaps you’d also like to check out my recent post on Edinburgh as well. To find out more about the history of the Bass Rock and the gannets, visit the official website of North Berwick.
I’d like to know what you think of this image, so please leave your comments below. Don’t forget, sharing is caring ^^