The adjective 'picturesque' is much overused by writers of travel articles and tourism brochures. The village is named after the 7th-century St Ebba, or Aebba, who is supposed to have established a nunnery along the cliffs just north of the town. The ruins of St Ebba's monastery can be seen today by taking the coastal path that leads through St Abbs Head National Nature Reserve.
This reserve is heaven for bird-watchers, for the high cliffs are home to thousands of seabirds. In fact, it is probably one of the best places in all of Britain to view seabirds, particularly during the prime nesting season of May-August. A harbor is a fascinating place, part of a voluntary nature reserve managed by the residents of St Abbs themselves. The sanctuary is not owned or maintained by the local council but by a charitable trust set up by the residents themselves.
A steep set of stairs rises up from the harbourside to a small viewing platform overlooking the harbor. Here you will see a poignant memorial to 3 local fishermen who lost their lives at sea during the great storm of 1881. The monument shows figures of their wives and children, braced against the wind, looking out to see for the men who will never return.
VISITING ST ABBS
The village is actually quite small, and the harbor area is very compact. There is a low paid parking area at the harbor, with the proceeds used going directly to maintain the harbor area. If you want to walk through the nature reserve I suggest you do not drive down to St Abbs itself, but park at the visitor center back along the Coldingham road.
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