Yep - we went trash picking today........ we had fun doing it, and we helped provide a community service at the same time. Now, I know those of you back in the states will probably be thinking, "Only convicts, or those who are in some sort of trouble with the law pick up trash alongside the road", but we were not wearing orange jumpsuits, nor was there a port-a-potty following along behind us. We chose to do this! This was part of volunteering for the East Lothian Council Conservation program, where we meet once a month to help with whatever services are needed at the time.
We met Sam(antha), the ELC ranger with whom we have worked before on other projects, along with several other eager helpers, at the Tantallon Castle car park. There we were handed our tools of the trade and received our instructions for the couple of hours we would be "working". Carrying our pickers and trash bags, we then walked along the road to our starting point, which happened to be along the cliffs over looking Bass Rock and the Firth of Forth. I know, tough, huh? We walked along the back side of the stone wall next to the road back towards the castle, and found some trash, but not nearly what I was expecting to find. Yes, Scotland has trash, and there are some places, just like in California, where people actually use places of beauty as dumping grounds, but that wasn't so here.
Though it looks cold in the photos, it really wasn't, and one thing that was welcome was that the usually ever present wind was gone! We actually got a little warm, as we did climb up and down from the roadside down to the beach (again, I know.......walking along the beach picking trash.....work??? Not!). We walked down to Cantry Bay, where there's a Boy Scout "Camp" right on the shore - gorgeous.
We came back up from the beach, and walked along the back of some farmer's fields towards a favourite place of mine - one I'm dying to get into.......more on that soon. First we came upon an abandoned concrete bunker/shack/hut - I don't really know what to call it - that was built in WWII as some kind of lookout/signalling station. I can't seem to find out more info on it - I'll keep looking - but it was fun to go inside and get some photos.
A little further along is what I really want to get into to get photographs taken - Gin Head Radar Station. Built on 5 acres in 1943, Gin Head, was built by the Admirality in 1943 on this spectacular cliff-top setting. Dozens of scientists worked there trying to intercept communication between enemy destroyers and U-boats. The important work also allowed the RAF to scramble its fighters to scare off attacks from the Luftwaffe. Its greatest success was in developing innovative technology that was used to trick the Nazis into thinking the Allies were planning to invade at Calais instead of Normandy on D-Day. The derelict site has since fallen into ruin and is now for sale for £3.5m! I've seen some images of the insides of these abandoned buildings, and I hope to be able to get inside of them before they are torn down.
We wrapped up our duties and headed back to the car park to turn in our trash and tools. It was a fun and easy way to help the community, get some exercise, meet some new people and see some familiar faces. Oh, and we each received a nice polo shirt for being volunteers! On Sunday we will be going to a place along the coast to learn how to help with the Eider Duck Monitoring Program. This will involve sitting along the coast looking out to little islands close to shore where the ducks breed and nest. More fun - I'll let you know how it goes!