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scotland water celebration

The Year Of Coasts And Waters

Water is woven into the fabric of Scotland, so a celebration of its
contribution to the nation will require a full year and thousands of
events from the Borders to Shetland.


It is a fine June day at North Berwick, the East Lothian seaside town often cited as one of the most desirable places to live in Scotland. The Firth of Forth is blue and runkled by a fresh breeze, while two miles offshore the massive sentinel of the Bass Rock is crowned white with nesting seabirds -- an ancient volcanic plug that is now the world's largest northern gannet colony.

Overlooking the harbour and out towards the Bass is the sweeping "bird's wing" roof of the Scottish Seabird Centre, an award-winning charity that has educated people about seabirds and wider marine life over the past 20 years -- not least through its remote control cameras providing a "live," yet non-intrusive, close-up view of birdlife on the rock. The renowned TV naturalist Sir David Attenborough has described it as one of his "12 wildlife wonders of the world."

The centre is currently undergoing a major refurbishment costing some half million pounds and is about to close its Discovery Area until the end of this year. It reopens in the new year with its remit broadened to encompass wider environmental marine life concerns as well as birdlife. It's appropriate, then, that 2020 will be not only the centre's 20th birthday, but also Scotland's Year of Coasts and Waters, the first-ever such nationwide celebration.

Designated by the Scottish Government and led by VisitScotland, the national tourism body, and its events directorate, Scotland's Year of Coasts and Waters will cover a widely varied range of topics and activities. These range from a timely spotlight on the marine environment through organizations such as the Seabird Centre and whale watching activities (a Hebridean Whale Trail was established recently, first of its kind in the UK) to showcases of seafood and other produce. Highlights include a significantly expanded version of Glasgow's annual Clydebuilt Festival, involving arts, crafts, music and Scotland's largest boat race. There will be a focus on Scotland's inland waterways and canals, too, as well as on the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's invaluable work.

The full text of this article is available in the Autumn 2019 issue of Scottish Life.

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Photo © Iain Masterton/Scottish Viewpoint