Bass Rock from Tantallon Castle
The hermitage of St Baldred, Bass Rock, has served as a site of pilgrimage, a prison and a lighthouse.
A trip out to the island is an assault on the senses. Every surface of the 111m high rock is covered by gannets, kittiwake, razorbill, shag, fulmar and puffins.
Tiny spiralling specks of birds can first be seen from a far like a dust of windblown snow on a snow-capped peak. It is not possible to discern individual birds just sense motion and that a strange white crust blankets every surface. That which is not white is craggy and vertical. As one approaches it is apparent the white coating pulses with life. It is a living surface, an island covered by sea birds. The braying and honking, the discordant clamour of tuneless throats, is enough to strike doubt into the strongest. Finally is the breath catching smell, fish and ammonia at such high concentrations that no one can be in doubt that this is a corrosive force to be feared.
Cast out in the Firth of Forth and viewed from the ruined stronghold of Tantallon this citadel of birds commands the approaches to Scotland’s capital, whoever wishes to pass must both navigate the seas and the respectfully negotiate the guardians of this fortress.