St Abbs Head

  • The village - © William Mackesy
  • Above the cliffs - © William Mackesy
  • Seal - © William Mackesy
  • Inland Loch - © William Mackesy
  • Looking north - © William Mackesy
  • First bay - © ? William Mackesy
  • Early lighthouse built by Stevenson family - © William Mackesy
  • Behind the cliffs - © William Mackesy

Key information: St Abbs Head

  •          This beautiful and fascinating nature reserve's cliffs, coves and stacks are a haven for a huge selection of seabirds in their specialist corners.
  •          On its highlands are the faint remains of the defended C7 monastery founded by St Aebbe, a fascinating reminder of turbulent, raider-ridden times.
  •         You won't be alone in the summer months: it can feel like rather public wildlifery.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating84
  • Beauty31
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest10
  • Charisma30
  • Negative points3
  • Total rating84
  • Note: Negs: busy trails, including optimistic child buggies

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 2hrs upwards
  • Maximum Altitude: n/a
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Looking north - © William Mackesy


This beautiful and fascinating nature reserve lies on the east coast as it swings round into the approaches to the Firth of Forth. Its cliffs, coves and stacks are a haven for a huge selection of seabirds: guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes and even a few puffins live in their specialist corners.

Its geology illustrates why the discipline is such fun. Older siltstones were covered by lava flows, their harder rocks weathering more slowly, resulting in the high jutting headland complete with broken towers of old lava. Erosion will one day leave it an island.

On its highlands are the faint remains of the defended C7 monastery founded by St Aebbe, a fascinating reminder of the turbulent, raider-ridden times in which Christianity re-established itself in the northern lands.

Walk round the cliffs then back beside a narrow, bird-rich inland loch in a bit under 2 hrs - plus paddling and viewing time, of course. St Abb's gets quite a few visitors, so you won't be alone in the summer months: it is maintained accordingly, so this can feel like rather organized wildlifery. Not for people who need to avoid grannies and children.

The lighthouse's house and outbuildings have been turned into holiday accommodation: a great place to stay and explore at leasure.

The dreaded TripAdvisor should give you good, current views on this area.

For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Scottish Borders page.



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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

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