How to visit St Abbs, Scottish Borders

St Abbs

Welcome to St Abbs, Scotland

The Scottish Borders village of St Abbs might not be the first place you think of if you are hankering for a fresh crab sandwich, but for those in the know, it’s a hallowed destination. With its own St Abbs Head National Nature Reserve offering up spectacular cliffside walks, links to Hollywood (hint, it’s New Asgard) diving, fishing and seabirds galore, the village of St Abbs is a perfect reminder that the Scottish Borders are not just for driving through. Here is why you should visit St Abbs and St Abbs Head. 

Stroll around pretty St Abbs Harbour (and New Asgard / Eroda)

The village of St Abbs has a thriving fishing harbour, providing a home for six lobster boats who bring in daily catches of lobster and local edible crabs known as Poos! Take a wander around the harbour, otherwise known as Thor’s homeland New Asgard, from Avengers: Endgame. You can visit the St Abbs Head lifeboat station and the ‘fake’ pub – one of the cottages was turned into the sadly fictional the Cormorant and Tun. 

St Abbs was also recently used to film Harry Style’s new ‘Adore You’ video – St Abbs is also now known as Eroda! The village also used to be called Coldingham Shore – the fishermen used to live in the larger village of Coldingham just up the road until they settled down on the coast and named the village St Abbs, after local 7th saint St Æbbe, in the 1890s.

St Abbs
St Abbs

St Abbs Head Nature Reserve Walks

Next to St Abbs village is the St Abbs Head National Nature Reserve (managed by the National Trust for Scotland) where paths run along dramatic cliffs formed by volcanic eruptions.

Head up above White Heugh Bay for views of the St Abbs harbour through rock turrets. Watch the edge, I got dizzy on more than one occasion! Take the St Abbs Head Nature Reserve to walk a circular route through the dunes, returning via the pretty Mire Loch. If you can’t face the ups and downs of the cliff walk, there are shorter walks too!

St Abbs

Spot the St Abbs Head seabirds

The St Abbs Head Nature Reserve is home to 50,000 seabirds including guillemots, razorbills, puffins, kittiwakes, fulmars and rare butterflies. Off the coast is the St. Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve which was locally designated to protect these beautifully clear waters from overfishing or scuba diving. The scuba boats are rather ubiquitous, even in winter, chugging around the rock formations with their human seals diving off occasionally into the water.

St Abbs

See the St Abbs Grey Seals

The St Abbs Head Nature Reserve is home to grey seals and over the winter they pup. Baby seals can be seen on the beaches at St Abbs Head being fed by their parents before they make their way into the sea. The paths at St Abbs run pretty close to the baby seals – and they are easily startled, which can lead to their parents abandoning them – so please do not disturb them, cross the barriers or make noisy in the company.

These shots were taken with a zoom lens.

Photograph St Abbs Lighthouse

The most famous sight within the St Abbs Head Nature Reserve is the St Abbs Lighthouse and Foghorn built by Lighthouse Stevensons in 1862. I was rather sad I couldn’t get inside the grounds, but you can check out this picture of the lighthouse via artist Ian Oliver.

St Abbs

Walk along the cliff path to Pettico Wick Bay

Take the cliff path north through the St Abbs Head Nature reserve north to the unusually named Pettico Wick Bay, where you can spot the folded rocks and 400 million-year-old pink & purple volcanic lava of the Pettico Wick fault which form ledges for the seabirds. In the distance, you can see Berwick Law and Bass Rock, and on a very clear day, you can see the volcano to top them all, Arthur’s Seat.

St Abbs

Walk along the Berwickshire Coastal Path

The Berwickshire Coastal Path runs 30 miles from Cockburnspath to Berwick upon Tweed in England, connecting to both the Southern Upland Way to Dumfries and Galloway and to the John Muir Way in East Lothian. From St Abbs you can walk along the clifftop to Eyemouth via Coldingham Bay or north to the St Abbs Nature Reserve.

Head to the beach at Coldingham Bay

Coldingham Sands is a gorgeous beach 10 minutes walk along the coastal path from St Abbs. The beach is lined with pretty beach huts and is famed for its surfing!

Eat crab sandwiches!

The St Abbs Head walk is about a 4-mile round trip, so head back via Mire Loch to one of the St Abbs harbour cafes for an amazing crab sandwich… that’s if I haven’t munched them all. We had crab sandwiches at Ebb Carr’s Cafe but they are also available at the Old School Cafe and had to the Visitor Centre for a warm welcome and to find out more about the area.

The St Abbs Memorial

On the 14 October 1881, one hundred and eighty-nine fishermen, most from the village of Eyemouth lost their lives off the coast of Berwickshire in a severe storm. Memorials to the disaster by Jill Watson can be found along the coast.

How to visit St Abbs in the Scottish Borders

  • St Abbs Head by car – Located just of the A1, 20 minutes north of the border with England, St Abbs great stopping point if you are heading north or the perfect distance for a day trip from Edinburgh. 
  • Car parking at St Abbs Head – available at the harbour (£1 an hour) or the National Trust Car Park (£2, free for members, no time limit) where there a visitor centre and loos. 
  • St Abbs Head by bus from Edinburgh – you can catch a Perryman’s bus, the 253 runs from Edinburgh to St Abbs and Coldingham and the 235 from Berwick.

Love from, Scotland x

8 Comments

  • restlessjo 29/02/2016 at 4:13 pm

    I’m packing my bag as we speak! 🙂 It’s ages since we did a Borders trip and I’ve never been out to the coast. This area looks really beautiful. If I want crab it’s sometimes Craster on the Northumberland coast. Not much further to come, is it? Thanks a lot for the link! I love it 🙂

  • Elise and Life 01/03/2016 at 9:38 pm

    Ooh it looks lovely there! And I do like your giant hat 🙂

  • Our Seaside Baby 02/03/2016 at 6:55 pm

    Wow! Lovely photos, the scenery is stunning! Reminds me of some of the places I’ve visited in Cornwall. Would love to explore more of Scotland one day. Thanks for linking up #MyFavouriteTrip Polly

  • Denzil 07/03/2016 at 8:36 am

    I’m coming along with Jo! It’s going to be busy up there in St. Abbs! Lovely photos and report. Thanks

  • mytravelmonkey 08/03/2016 at 11:52 am

    Absolutely stunning – I am glad you have revealed the secret of St Abbs, because I would really love to grab a crab sandwich or two and then walk that beautiful headland. You are right about Scottish landscape being quite similar to Iceland. It’s so dramatic! Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

  • Agness shuttlebottom 29/12/2019 at 9:22 pm

    We are so excited to eat poo s at St. Abbs and share it with our friends. Definitely some thing that’s on our bucket list

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