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Welcome to Fast Castle Cottage, quality self catering, pet friendly self catering accommodation, in a stunning coastal location above the East Berwickshire cliffs in the beautiful Scottish Borders.Read More
FAST COTTAGE WAS FEATURED IN ISSUE 52 OF THE DOGFRIENDLY MAGAZINE
Here is the full review from Tracey Radnall:
The wild Berwickshire coast often gets overlooked by those travelling north from the south heading for Scotland. However, this is an area packed with history and interest. The coastline takes in the second-highest cliffs on the east coast of Britain, traversing the youngest rocks of the area to the oldest. The dramatic scenery complete with arches, stacks, caves, forts and crumbling castles includes a revolutionary moment in the history of geology. In 1788 James Hutton discovered unusual rock formations at Siccar Point, a phenomenon now known as ‘Hutton’s Unconformity’. The site confirmed Hutton’s theory that the earth was much older than 6000 years, as originally thought.
The historical coast also includes two sets of poles over a measured mile, enabling shipping to test speed across water. The liner RMS Mauretania reached 25.73 knots, making her the fastest ship in the world and securing the mail contract between the UK and the US for over 20 years. All of this makes for a compelling historical and bracing break away – ideal for walkers.
In 1881, the area was hard hit by the East Coast Fishing Disaster, losing 11 of its 21 men and three out of four fishing boats. Look out for Jill Watson’s series of beautiful sculptures and brass rubbings along the coast path, commemorating the surviving widows and children.
FAST COTTAGE & FAST CASTLE
We are staying at the curiously named Fast Cottage at Dowlaw, which takes its name from the nearby Fast Castle. One of six farm cottages at Dowlaw Farm, the cottage is ideally located on the east coast footpath with stunning walking in all directions from the front door.
The cosy cottage sleeps four across two bedrooms with roof-lights and a wood burning stove in the sitting room. The kitchen is well equipped and includes a fridge/freezer, microwave, digital radio and even a washing machine.
The enclosed cottage garden faces a sunny westerly position, nicely nestled away from the A1 trunk road and its fast connections from the south and north.
Following the path from the cottage towards the coast, reveals a stunning and dramatic walk to the remains of Fast Castle. The castle occupies a dramatic, sheer-sided rock jutting out into the sea. Stumps of masonry represent the final stages of a castle that was visited by Mary Queen of Scots in 1566 and captured by an English force in 1570. Sir Walter Scott later set part of his novel, Bride of Lammermuir, here, calling it ‘Wolf’s Crag’. To access it, an exposed, steep path is visible amid the heather.
Take care on the descent due to the unguarded cliffs. I highly recommend keeping your dog on a harness along this section of the path. Anyone without a head for heights might well wish to view the site from the higher ground at the head of the path.
Return back to Dowlaw the same way and re-join the path inland descending to Dowlaw Burn, crossing via a pretty old stone bridge.
COAST PATH NORTH – COVE HARBOUR
Visitors who favour walking and exploring will enjoy the sights both to the north and south of the cottage. At the end of the 19th century the painters known as ‘The Glasgow Boys’ based themselves in the area and the picturesque nearby Cove harbour further north along the coast was a popular subject to paint.
The harbour cottages and Boyne Wall (Scots for ‘basin’) were built to accommodate the thriving herring fishing industry at the time. The fishermen’s boathouse on the beach was built in 1901; look out for the marine inspired details. Much of the Glasgow Boys’ work can be seen in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow’s trendy west end.
COAST PATH SOUTH – ADMIRALTY DISTANCE POLES
Further south along the coast path are many unusual places of interest, including two sets of poles over a measured mile enabled shipping companies to test the speed of ocean going vessels. The Cunard liner RMS Mauretania was launched in 1906 and reached 25.73 knots, making her the largest and fastest ship in the world at the time and securing the mail contract with the US for over 20 years.
TUN LAW & PETTICO WICK
At 500ft (150m), Tun Law is the highest cliff on the Berwickshire coast. It’s also the site of two Iron Age forts, which are represented by defensive banks and ditches on the landward side. Stay on the left of the coast path toward the ruin of a disused salmon fishing harbour – Pettico Wick. The seaward views back north along the coast here are stunning, with Fast Castle now visible away in the distance. A favourite venue for divers, the jetty at Pettico Wick was built to land supplies for the lighthouse prior to the existence of the access road.
Behind is a freshwater loch – Mire Loch – which provides an attractive option away from the tarmac access road that leads to St Abbs lighthouse. We wander along the loch for 300 metres, which meets the path leading up to St Abbs Lighthouse, the first light in Scotland to feature a fog horn!
St Abbs Head, a National Nature Reserve, famous for its many thousands of seabirds and wild coastal plants. The 90 metre cliffs are renowned for their birdlife, and the chance to see kittewakes, puffins, oystercatchers, guillemots and curlews, as well as the rare Brown Argus butterfly among the common rock rose. A further climb south reveals dramatic sea stacks with St Abbs harbour in the distance and well worth a visit. Follow the cliff path to join the road, crossing to a path leading into St Abbs town. From St Abbs harbour, visit Coldingham and the famous priory; take the ‘Creel Path’ inland for 1km. At the end of the path walk along the B6438 for a further 1km to Coldingham and bus/taxi services back towards Dowlaw.
Fast Cottage is ideally located to enjoy visiting the sites both north and south over consecutive days. Further places to explore include the Border country to the west and its many abbeys. It makes for an ideal stop-off en-route north to Scotland and the highlands.
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Listing Updated: 06/03/2019
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