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Report - Castell of the Bas (Bass Rock), East Lothian - June 2015

Discussion in 'Residential Sites' started by WildBoyz, Jun 29, 2015.

  1. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    Bass Rock, sometimes referred to as The Bass or ‘the Ailsa Craig of the East’, is a small island located approximately 2.5 kilometres from the coast of Scotland. It stands over 100 metres high and is a Special Protection Area, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, owing to the gannet colony residing there. Many years ago The Bass was a steep-sloping volcanic rock, but the site has been inactive for thousands; perhaps even millions, of years. Although the rock is currently uninhabited, settlers have survived there in past centuries: Christian hermits originally (600 AD), before an important castle was constructed there in the 15th century. This castle was later used as a prison after the Commonwealth period. Three structures can still be found on the small island today; these include the ruins of St. Baldred’s Chapel, the castle ruins and Bass Rock Lighthouse which was constructed in 1902. The lighthouse was built on the approximate site of the former governor’s house (the governor of the island).

    As indicated above, the castle was constructed as early as 1405, although it may have been much smaller at this time as it was described as a fort (Castell of the Bas). It was constructed out of local basalt and rough rubble which was most likely found somewhere in the nearby vicinity. The castle that can still be seen today was constructed in the 1500’s. Over the years the castle had a number of royal visits and provided an ideal ‘hideout’ during rebellions back on the mainland. By 1671, however, the Lauders, who had owned The Bass for over 600 years, lost it during Cromwell’s invasion. In the subsequent aftermath the castle, due to its remote location, became a notorious gaol for many political and religious prisoners. A number of sources suggest that the castle was abandoned sometime in the 1700’s, although the date may be towards the latter end of this era, after Lord North Berwick (Hew Dalrymple) acquired Bass Rock. The Dalrymple family continue to own the island to this day.

    The remains of the castle comprise a large frontal curtain wall along the cliff edge (a defensive wall between two separate towers), bastions (angular structures projecting out from the wall), a number of towers, and additional curtain walls extending from the sea onto the island behind. The whole structure is nestled into the side of the cliff at the lower end of Bass Rock. Parapets, which were thoroughly battlemented, once ran along the top of each section of the curtain wall, although they have mostly deteriorated against the rough conditions the island regularly experiences. Above the castle there was a large space of open grass suitable for over 100 grazing sheep, and a freshwater well was also created in this area; a foghorn is now positioned here.

    Today, Bass Rock is home to over 150,000 gannets (the Solan Goose), and it is considered to be the largest gannetry in the world; from the coast of Scotland the surface of the island appears to be white due to the sheer number of birds found on the rock. It is estimated that the droppings of the birds produce 152,000 kg of ammonia each year; this is equivalent to the amount produced by 10 million chickens. A number of other bird species can be found residing on the island, these include: puffin, razorbill, elder duck, cormorant, guillemot and, of course, gulls. Despite the incredible number of birds, the soil on the island is reportedly very fertile, and a wide variety of plants continue to grow.

    A couple of years ago we all took a trip up to Scotland; it was predominantly a climbing trip, but we also wanted to explore a few of the islands which are located just off the coast. Needless to say, our plan didn’t go too well at all. First of all, when we came to attempt our voyage across the little piece of sea, we were overcome by the choppy sea. Although we managed to make it to a random little rocky outcrop, with the boat being too heavy, the waves came crashing inside. We were forced to turn back to shore and abandon our attempt to reach Bass Rock. Secondly, we managed to burn down one of our tents whilst changing a gas canister. And finally, we drank far too much whisky on the beach throughout the night as a result of the earlier mishaps. This resulted in us being pretty fucked to do anything else the following day.

    Almost two years later, two of us returned to Scotland to reattempt the project; this time with no whisky or gas, and an electric outboard. The day started off well as we managed to reach the ideal beach with all of our equipment. As we inflated the raft and prepared the motor we only lost a couple of nuts and bolts; so, as far as we were concerned, the plan was running much more smoothly than the last time. We managed to botch the outboard together without those bits. After that, we waited patiently on the coastline for a while, for a boat circling the island to disappear, since access to the island is strictly limited to researchers, historians and the coastguard. Once the boat had disappeared from our view we quickly launched the dinghy, and in a flash we were floating into the unknown.

    It was only when we were out in the sea that we realised how many jellyfish thrive in the waters off the coast of Scotland. It is by no means an overstatement to suggest that there were thousands of them, all different shapes and sizes, floating close to the surface as we ploughed on towards The Bass. We continued undeterred, however, and after around twenty-five minutes of constant chugging we finally reached the landing point on the island. The smell, though, was absolutely horrendous; it had started to sting the nostrils long before we actually set foot on the island, but nothing could have prepared us for what we encountered. Nevertheless, we forced ourselves to hop out of the dinghy and have a quick look around while trying not to disturb the wildlife. It was pretty grim inside the bits of castle and we didn’t spend much time in there at all, so you’ll all have to make do with external shots I’m afraid. Afterwards, dodging bombardments of falling bird shit, we hastily jumped back into our impressive vessel to escape the foul stench. We soon made it back to shore in spite of the dying battery that was powering us. For some reason the voltage started to drop quite rapidly, to the extent that we almost resigned ourselves to the thought that we wouldn’t make it all the way back. We experienced that moment when thought we would have to ready the paddles, but, thankfully, the battery went the distance and we both survived to explore another day.

    Explored with Ford Mayhem.


    1: Preparing the Dinghy

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    2: Leaving Scotland

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    3: And So it Begins...

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    4: Getting Closer to The Bass

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    5: Bass Rock

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    6: The Castle Ruins and Lighthouse

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    7: The Landing

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    8: Part of the Curtain Wall

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    9: The Remains of the Castle

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    10: To the Main Gate

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    11: Stairs into the Fort

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    12: The Main Gate

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    13: Birds Everywhere

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    14: Full of Birds

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    15: Stairs to Escape

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    16: Back at Sea

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    17: Heading Back to Shore

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    18: Tantallon Castle

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    Saul and ACID- REFLUX like this.

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  2. Miss Mayhem

    Miss Mayhem 28DL Regular User
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    Nice report, looks like you had a fun explore :thumb
     
  3. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    Couldn"t believe you"d done this when you told me on Saturday I"ve always been meaning to call from a Wildlife point of view but never made it yet........prepare yourself for an Email from the Authorities naughty boys ;)

    Love the write up and the pics even if you didn"t get inside. And that smell is never forgotten :eek:

    Pic No5 is the Dogs Danglies mate, great composition, especially from a Dinghy. If it was mine i"d lower the exposure level a bit and stick it on my wall :thumb
     
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  4. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    Haha, yeah mate. I was going to post in it non-public, but I've discovered that there are a number of solar powered cameras on the island, so they probably saw us anyway. None of the birds were harmed or disturbed in the taking of these photographs, we spent more time among the jelly fish to be honest ;)

    Cheers man, I was really pleased with a couple of these. I might just do that; get it up on my wall for memory sake :D

    I can still smell it sometimes, comes back to me in my nightmares.
     
  5. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    I only wanted too see some shots of Gannets dive bombing you lol

    Like i was saying the other night, get the composition right and it"s really stands out, and this stands out.

    Trouble is it looks like a Lilliput Lane model, as there"s nothing to scale it too ;) Needs a Fishing Boat adding on the left so it shows the immense size of the rock. (try a 16:9 version of it, for comparison less sky ?)
     
  6. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    They weren't interested in eating us this time. The raft got bombarded with a bit of shit mind. Bastards. There were a few moments where different birds were skimming the surface of the water, but I couldn't keep the camera steady and act quick enough to capture them.

    Haha, yeah. Incidentally, there were quite a few boats around before we set off. Couple of tankers in the distance, but they were tiny on the horizon. If I get round to putting this one up I'll probably do that. All the sky sort of blends in a dull way with the sea since it was a bit of shit day weather wise.
     
  7. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    I"ll lend you some Grad Filters for next time ;) & I"ll bring some Fish

    Or use the Grad Filter tool in Lightroom
     
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  8. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    Not so sure about the fish, but the filters sound good ;)
     
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