There’s usually a combination of factors that entices me to this location. Firstly, you require a low tide or you will have to swim. Next, add some nice mild weather so you don’t need much clothing and can leave the waterproofs and jackets at home. Add to that sunset at a reasonable time to allow the walk to take place in the dark. Yes, silly, I know. And finally, a good-sized moon rising at the right time to add to the ambience. Optional factors might be the possibility of witnessing the aurora or even noctilucent clouds, but those are few and far between. So, where am I tonight? No prizes for guessing. I’m at Aberlady Bay Naturist Reserve. Sorry, Aberlady Bay Nature Reserve.
As usual I like to start at quarry corner, by Gala Hill, on the A198 road to Gullane. It gives me direct access to both the golf courses and the access road to the water treatment works and onwards to the saltmarsh and dunes. Tonight, I’m navigating by golf course. Using the turf app to locate where I am and planning my route using greens, fairways, bunkers, pathways and tees. Across 6 Quarry, along 11 Peffer Bank then across to 9 Inchkeith. Works a treat and makes for a very pleasant walk underfoot. Also good for watching the many hundreds of rabbits in the area as well as the plentiful roe deer.
Joining the track, I pass by the water treatment works where all manner of strange noises are emanating into the still night. The sound of tortured metal suggests a mechanism of some kind. There’s also sounds of a watery, or rather, gloopy, nature but let’s not go there. Then there’s the smell of you know what. I join the golf course again and scan about with my torch. Lots of glowing eyes shine back at me. The ones low down are rabbits. The ones higher up are roe deer, probably. Some are beyond the light of the torch so could be anything. Alien big cats, trolls, orcs, goblins, or something else entirely. You never know. Might even be some nocturnal naturists! Fairways 13 and 12 take me back to the track for the dunes.
My first take of the evening is zone SandySocks, a zone almost in the middle of nowhere and without any distinguishing features, just ripples in the sand and the occasional shell. Not so much sandy socks as wet sandy feet. I suppose you could wear wellies but where’s the fun in that. I’m on the beach so I’m walking barefoot. Also keeps my socks and footwear dry. Had some issues actually taking this zone. The wee red thingy was flashing above the take bar. Tried restarting the app but eventually had to restart the phone.
Next, zones SubWreckTwo and SubWreckOne, both located way out in the bay and both hidden in the darkness. However, having been here on numerous occasions both at night and during the day, I can pretty much get there by dead reckoning. And as you approach, the dark bulk of the concrete mooring point looms out of the darkness. The sub wrecks are to either side. No problem taking either zone. Always interesting to see how wind and wave change the sand around the wrecks.
I love being out here at night. It’s so calm and peaceful. There just me and the birds. Geese are calling all around, tern are calling out at sea and the cry of a heron has me thinking about Pterodactyl. Thankfully, they have been extinct for about 150 million years, give or take a few million. Plenty of ringed plover about, some running away, others sitting tight and not moving an inch, watching me pass by. It’s cool when wildlife does not run away from you. Probably wondering what this strange being is wandering about their territory at night.
Next on the list is zone TheOldMan, located at Gullane Point. I’ve decided to give zone PillBoxWW2 a miss this time. It’s located in the dunes and to reach it you have to run the gauntlet through tick territory. Last time I picked up 6 of the little buggers and it spoils the evening. So, I’m sticking to the beach this time. Mind you, I’m not alone even here, as there countless zillions of little wrigglers everywhere.
This is the domain of the sand hopper. During the day they live about 12 inches under the sand (an inch is 25.4 mm for you youngsters), or hidden in strandline debris, and they come out at night to feed on the rotting seaweed and detritus the tide leaves behind. There are so many that you cannot avoid walking on them and can feel them landing on your bare toes and against your bare legs. Best avoided if you don’t like small wriggly crustaceans by the zillion. They are also known as sand fleas, but don’t bite. If you stop and listen, you can actually heard them in their millions hopping about. It’s a kind of hissing sound.
Zone TheOldMan is an easy take and a good vantage point to take in the view across the Firth of Forth to Fife, or across the bay towards the lights of Edinburgh. You can even see the lights of the bridges across the estuary at Queensferry. The Fidra lighthouse is flashing to the north-east and lights along the shore suggest campers or party goers.
The coastal path soon takes me to zone HummelRocks and I start the climb up Gullane Hill, for the imaginatively named zone, GullaneHill. Okay, why not? Actually, I would have called it KingsChair. Older maps show an area called King’s Chair and on the seaward side of the hill there’s some rocks, one of which is in the shape of a chair. I discovered this when I was searching for standing stones in the area some years ago. Have not found any further information about this site.
With zone GullaneHill in the bag it was time to head back towards the car. Again, I decided to navigate by golf course, further to walk than as-the-crow-flies but better to keep out of the rough areas where I picked up a couple of pesky ticks last time. Back at the car, I stopped by Gala Law to check for ticks and was most pleased to find not a single one. Overall, a very pleasant evenings turf at the seaside. And no, I will not be mentioning anything about this being Aberlady Bay Naturist Reserve, the state of my attire, whatever that may have been or not been. It wasn’t me, officer, I wasn’t there, okay. Bye.
Copyright ©2023 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.