We thought we’d seen a ghost. It was an oyster shell on a Fife beach.

We quite often come across them – they must be some age because the Forth oyster has been considered extinct for many years.

The Forth oyster fishery once produced more than 30 million oysters a year – they were exported widely and were a cheap food. “Dreg songs” were sung by the fishermen as they rowed or sailed over the oyster beds towing dredges.

Indeed the history of oysters and man on the Forth is a long one – there are records of shell middens around the Forth from the Stone Age up to when the Romans tramped these shores.

Not far from this beach you can see oyster shells in the mortar of the walls of Aberdour Castle.

Overfishing spelled the end of the fishery. The collapse began in the 1870s and fishing stopped completely in 1920. In 1957 native oysters in the Firth were thought to be extinct.

In 2009, decades later, live oysters were found in the Firth. This has led to speculation over recovery of the stocks and possible future commercial production.

Maybe hold back on the tabasco and lemon juice for now though. For the time being the only wild oyster fishery in Scotland is in Loch Ryan.

It’s early days for a recovery of the Forth oyster but it is nice to hear a positive story for a change. And maybe some day we’ll be eating local oysters once again.


2005  June 0932005  June 0962005  June 1002005  June 0982005  June 084Thinking about Forth islands, I found these pictures from 2005 when we went to Inchcolm.

There was a mass in the abbey but my younger son and myself  spent most of the time watching birds.

One end of the island was very much the herring and lesser black backed gulls’ territory – they looked a bit scary.

We saw puffins from the boat which was a result.

It is interesting seeing an island up close when it is often in the background viewed from the land. The kids have grown up seeing it from their primary school.

This seems like yesterday but I can see how small the kids were and for them it probably seems a lifetime ago. I haven’t got any younger looking since then either! Just the one of them at primary now – and he goes to high school next year.

Named after Saint Columba, the Abbey was founded in the 12th century.


Inchgarvie, Firth of Forth

My son has a new green button badge – showing which house he is in at primary school.

The houses are named after islands in the Firth of Forth: Inchgarvie, Inchcolm, Inchkeith and Inchmickery.

“Inchgarvie, Inchmickery, Inchcolm, Inchkeith
Cramond, Fidra, Lamb, Craigleith
Around the Bass Rock to the Isle of May
Then past Car Craig to Dalgety Bay.”

He is in Inchgarvie.

In 832 AD, King Angus of the Picts stuck the Angles’ King Athelstane’s head on a pike on Inchgarvie as a warning that this was the start of Pictish territory.

Welcome to Fife!,_Firth_of_Forth.JPG

Inchgarvie lies under the Forth Rail Bridge and carries ruined WWII defences on its back – an island fortress.

Inch Garvie - - 1672012

Wordle: Untitled


wpid-IMAG0432-1.jpgI love this John Steinbeck quote. He is able to say so much in a few short sentences.

“And if we seem a small factor in a huge pattern, nevertheless it is of relative importance. We take a tiny colony of soft corals from a rock in a little water world. And that isn’t terribly important to the tide pool. Fifty miles away the Japanese shrimp boats are dredging with overlapping scoops, bringing up tons of shrimps, rapidly destroying the species so that it may never come back, and with the species destroying the ecological balance of the whole region. That isn’t very important in the world. And thousands of miles away the great bombs are falling and the stars are not moved thereby. None of it is important or all of it is.”

John Steinbeck

The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951)

This is the sea

Where the river meets the sea, where land becomes water – it changes with the tide, day by day and year on year. 

This is a favourite short walk with a bit of sandy beach and some rocks to clamber on.  Well worn steps are cut in the rock, rusted remains of diving boards – from the days when people came across the Forth by steamer.

Initials and dates carved in rock.

Abbey and ethyline

A view from above that little beach – with the Braefoot terminal, Inchcolm, Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills beyond.

Just along from here is the “Monk’s Cave” and the WW2 Charles Hill gun emplacement.

An anti submarine net ran from here out to Inchcolm – you can still find bits on the shore.There was also one on the other side of the river between Cramond and Cramond Island.

Great place to sit quietly and watch the seals and seabirds. You might dream of building a cabin here – if it wasn’t in the blast zone…

The Monks’ Cave isn’t a cave as such but the remains of a strange little medieval building built into the side of the hill.  I think the theory is that  it was used for storage by the monks crossing from here to the Abbey on Inchcolm.  More recently it was used to store ammunitiion in the second world war.

Sea Mayweed

Flowers at the high tide line on a local beach. Sea Mayweed I think.

Within sight and sound of seals basking on low tide rocks and the abbey on Inchcolm.  Oh, and the Braefoot terminal loading ethyline on to a tanker.

A perfect beach for a quiet picnic perhaps – shells on the strand and lots of sea sculpted driftwood.

Wikipedia tells me that in Iceland this plant is called Baldr’s Brow – after the son of Odin.