Coast, p.iv.

[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]

   From the liberties of Berwick, the coast extends along Berwickshire and part of Haddingtonshire, north-westward to near North Berwick: and there, over a commencing width of 11 miles, it yields to the long westward indentation of the frith of Forth. Over the greater part of this distance it is bold and rocky, presenting a firm rampart against the attacks of the sea, and offering few points where even fishing-boats may approach. On the north side of the Forth it makes an almost semicircular sweep round the most easterly land of Fifeshire to St. Andrew’s-bay; it thence trends northward to the north-east extremity of Fife; and it there gives place to the indentation of the frith of Tay. Between the Forth and the Tay, and over a considerable part of Forfarshire to the north, it is in general low and sandy; wearing alternately the softest and the tamest aspects. From Buddonness, on the north side of the entrance of the Tay, all the way along Forfarshire, Kincardineshire, and part of Aberdeenshire, to Buchanness, its direction is north-north-eastward, slightly variegated by sinuosities. Over the next 18 miles it trends northward, and north-north-westward, to Kinnaird-head; and between that promontory and Duncansby-head in the extreme north-east, it recedes to the vast extent of between 70 and 80 miles, and admits a triangular gulf or enormous bay, called the Moray frith. On the south side of this gulf it stretches almost direct to the west, and on the other side it extends to the north-east; but at the inner extremity of the gulf, it is confusedly and entirely broken by the friths of Beauly, Cromarty, and Dornoch. From Duncansby-head, it undulates 14 miles in a prevailing direction of north-west by west to Dunnet-head in the extreme north; it thence stretches 4 miles south-westward to the indentation of Thurso-bay; and from this bay to Cape-Wrath, in the extreme north-west, and in nearly the same longitude as the entrance of the bay, it describes, over a distance of about 50 miles, a small segment of a circle, the curvature being inland, but, besides having a rugged outline, is broken in three places by the inroads of respectively Loch-Tongue, Loch-Eribole, and Durness-bay. Over nearly all the north it is bold and dangerous, abutted with rocky headlands, crowned with frowning cliffs, torn into fissures, and assailed by very generally a tumbling and chafed sea. From Cape-Wrath to the Mull of Kintyre, a distance of about 30 miles more than from the meridian of the liberties of Berwick to that of Duncansby-head, and comprising the whole west boundary of the mainland, the coast, as to its general direction, diverges very little from the straight line southward, or from a line a point or two westward of south; but over nearly its whole extent, it is so torn and shattered by inroads of the sea, yields to so many large and variform indentations, and, amidst its curious and ever-recurring recesses, leaps so mazily over the inner line of the Hebridean rocks and islets and islands, that it defies description, and bewilders an uninitiated tourist. Its aspect here is throughout wild and Highland, alternately picturesque, grand, sublime, and savage. At the Mull of Kintyre the coast becomes narrowed with the continent, or rather with the long peninsula which projects from it, and runs down to the Mull, into a point or headland; and there, over a commencing width of 35 or 40 miles, measured south-eastward to Ayrshire at Ballantrae, it recedes in the large, many-bayed, and curious gulf, which forms the frith of Clyde. From Ballantrae to the Mull of Galloway, a distance of 37 miles, it describes the segment of an ellipsis, the curvature being toward the sea, but is broken a few miles south of Ballantrae by the entrance of Loch- Ryan. Over this distance it is rocky, beetling, and inhospitable, but not high, and is curiously perforated with large and numerous caverns. From the Mull of Galloway to a point 31 miles north-east by east, it yields successively to the large ingress of Luce-bay, the considerable one of Wigton-bay, and the smaller of the estuary of the Dee, and comes down in the mere headlands by which these friths are separated. After passing the estuary of the Dee, it begins to be confronted with the coast of England; and thence onward it is identified with the shore of the Solway frith. 

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