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The Inches and Islands

Page history last edited by Osbert 6 years, 8 months ago


Bass Rock

No facilities. 


Offers no shelter but is a ‘must’ to examine at close quarters. Geologists tell us it is the core of a volcano! With deep water allowing you close in it is awesome. There is a cave worth exploring on the SE side but you will need to take an inflatable dinghy at LW, it is said to extend for 170yds.  Most of the top of the Rock is crammed with bickering Gannets and the constant traffic of arriving and departing birds makes for a busy scene. The Rock once housed political and religious prisoners.


Birdwatching parties from North Berwick land by launch to stone jetties on the south side near the lighthouse but whether landing by dinghy is allowed is unknown but landing and anchoring both look to be impractical because of swell and deep water. For views of the birds by remote interactive cameras visit the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick or www.seabird.org.


Cramond Island

No facilities


This island connects to the shore at LW by a causeway alongside the concrete boom. It offers sheltered anchoring on E inside Partin Rock which dries 1.1m and position is indicated by white leading lines on the island but with no landing place. Two beaches are suitable on the W side, both with good holding. Duckhouse Bay on the NW side offers a clean shingle beach on which to dry out. You may choose to remain afloat in R. Almond channel with a depth of up to 1m with good holding on sand. Yet another clean shingle beach on the SW side offers a great place to dry out.


The island is a little disfigured by wartime defence works but it offers protection from a blow, it is good to: explore, barbecue, sunbathe or snooze. You may be able to take a club mooring (1) SW of Partin Rock, (2) in R. Almond.


Isle of May

W, Wc only.


Situated 5M SE of Crail in the outer Forth. It is a Scottish Natural Heritage nature reserve and has a wild, remote look about it. Steeply shelving, you may sail close-by except for North and South Ness. Kirkhaven, a crack in the rock, guarded by The Pillow on the SE of the island is the best landing place. Leading lines guide you in - first-timers should never take the short-cut option. It offers a jetty and a top-of-the-tide tiny beach. Remember the birdwatcher’s tripper boat will need access.


East and West Tarbert are given as anchorages and landing places in suitable conditions but exposed to surge. The holding is said to be mediocre. Altarstones, is available for landing by ladder. A tiny clean beach is available to dry out near HW.


In ordinary circumstances there is no overnighting – you must go to an anchorage. Of course in emergency you must overrule local regulations and stand your ground. Safe harbours are at least 5M of open water away!


Despite these problems the visit is wonderful. The wardens are helpful. Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Shags, Kittiwakes, Common and Arctic terns all breed here and rabbits run about everywhere. Sea Campion and Thrift abound, other species include English Stonecrop, Lovage, Early Scurvy Grass and Sea Spleenwort. The island was an early Christian site and until 1930s had a local population. You will be allowed to explore if you keep to the marked footpaths. If you have suitable conditions – don’t miss it!



no facilities


The name translates from Norse as Feather Island. The island lies ½M offshore and 2M west of North Berwick. Without swell a dinghy may enter East Bay, keeping north of Half Tide Rock. You may then pass through a small opening in the rock to lie alongside the old lighthouse keeper’s quay. Good nerves are required as an underwater rock (unmarked on my chartlet) much reduces the width at the entrance but Ed Wingfield made it with a 25’ keelboat once.


If staying through LW and with the bottom being of large rocks you may feel happier in deeper water by warping away from the quay to iron rings strategically set in rocks.


A walk up to the light is rewarding. It gives good views across the Forth but herring gulls will not make you welcome if in breeding season. A tiny cove on the west side of the island is said to be a possible landing place. Partially sheltered anchoring can be had in East Bay and to the south-east and south-west of the island.





Inchcolm and its Abbey are in the care of Historic Scotland. The wake of vessels using the main deepwater channel to the south of the island will cause disturbance to the three anchorages facing that side. If anchoring off Inchcolm a trip line on the anchor is recommended as there are many abandoned power cables coming ashore in all the sheltered bays. Both South Bay and the northernmost bay are suitable for drying out if you stay with your craft as she dries. West Bay is a good temporary anchorage or HW landing at the jetty as the deep water channel is nearby and you can watch the big ship movements. South Bay gives protection until half-tide then watch out! It is then very exposed to shipping wash.


Watch out for angry skuas and gulls during the nesting season. Only use the upper end of the jetty on the north side (wooden) as the passenger ferry will use the lower (concrete) part. Suitable for drying out only at top of tide.


The ruined Augustinian Abbey and the fairly unobtrusive defensive works make this island beautiful and a very worthwhile visit.


2014: Landing in South Bay, the custodian was welcoming, letting us know we could use the toilets and wander around the island. If we wished to enter the Abbey itself the normal charge of £5.50 adult would apply.



(refer to Imray chartlet)

No facilities.


This island is badly disfigured by ruinous defence works. (I (Ed Wingfield) have recently been told off about saying such things as these works are becoming valued archaeology.) It has also been a quarantine station, and sailing ships would replenish their water barrels from the wells, the mainland supply being untrustworthy. The island was inhabited until recently.


The harbour offers good shelter except in westerlies. A visit ashore gave me the creeps because of the dereliction, but I made it to the summit and was rewarded by a fantastic view of the whole of the lower Forth. The harbour wall is not dinghy-friendly and frequent adjustments to lines may be needed. Take care in the in harbour to avoid an old coast iron launching trolley that may be submerged. Lie to anchor off the end of the harbour wall if you prefer.


The anchorage on the east side is just below and south of the lighthouse. A further anchorage is close in to the north of the island but is believed to offer little shelter.



No facilities


The island has an important Roseate Tern colony and landing is forbidden in the nesting season of May, June and July. You will see the seals on the eastern side, juvenile seals will be on the drying rocks. Don’t blunder in as they are fairly timid.


Anchor as shown on the chartlet as close-in as possible. Trip lines should be fitted as the bottom is foul with junk. A steeply shelving spit of broken shell and small stones uncovers on the extreme SW end of the island and is available for beach picnics etc. –2 +2 LW.


The island is nothing to look at, being badly disfigured by derelict air defence works, but the views from it are excellent. From here you may oversee all the commercial and leisure craft movements of the mid Forth. 



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