The East Lothian village of Aberlady sits at the mouth of
the Peffer Burn, at the point where it flows through Aberlady Bay in to the
Firth of Forth. There was already an active harbour here in the mid-12th
century; in 1633 an Act of Parliament designated Aberlady as the port for
Haddington, 5 miles/8km to the south. The harbour was active until the 19th
century, but as ships became larger deeper water was needed to cope with them.
Also in the 19th century, the bay and the burn began to
silt up, creating salt marshes and mudflats. These now make up over two thirds
of the Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve; this was created in
1952, the first in the UK. The nature reserve is accessed by a wooden footbridge
that crosses the Peffer Burn, to the east of Aberlady; from there the reserve
stretches north and west, covering a total area of 582 hectares/1,438 acres.
As expected in a coastal location, there have been a number
of wrecks in the area; these include eight 19th/early 20th century fishing boats
that have been designated as maritime scheduled ancient monuments.
However, there is an unexpected find on the beach, near the low tide mark, in
the shape of the remains of two miniature submarines dating from the 1946; these
were towed in to the bay, moored to the concrete block that stands between them,
and used for target practice by the Royal Air Force.
Waterston House, which is also known as the Scottish
Birdwatching Resource Centre, overlooks the bay from a short distance west
of Aberlady. It is the headquarters of the Scottish Ornithologists' Club
and was named after George Waterston, one of the founders of the SOC. The
George Waterston Library holds over 3,500 ornithological books, said to be
the largest collection in Scotland. There is also an art gallery, named after
artist and one-time SOC president, Donald Watson.
See our bookshop in
the Children's Hospice Association Scotland