Hutton’s Coast – the journey to Siccar Point
9th May 2021
It is Scotland’s most important geological site, but Siccar Point is tucked away on the rugged coastline of the Scottish Borders, a hidden gem with beautiful coastal scenery and a rich geological story. We’ll get to the point by following James Hutton’s journey along the Berwickshire Coast from Dunglass, gradually travelling back in time through three periods of contrasting sedimentary rocks.
THE ROCKS: Siccar Point is world-famous because it was discovered and described by James Hutton in support of his world-changing ideas on the origin and age of the Earth. It remains now much the same as when Hutton visited in 1788. The junction between the older, tilted layers of greywacke sandstone and the younger Old Red Sandstone is clearly visible, allowing us to work out the story of the formation of these rocks, and by approaching along the coast as Hutton did, we can see Siccar Point in the context of the surrounding area.
THE WALK: A varied walk along the coastal path from Dunglass to Siccar Point, which lies at the foot of a steep grassy slope; it is not essential to descend all the way down the slope to see the key features. Distance 8km one-way (the walk will finish at Siccar Point, there are several options for returning to the start point).
I have classified this as an Easy Walk, but with an adventurous addition of descending to the Point, which is only possible if the weather conditions are right. It may be wet, windy or cold. Come equipped with strong footwear, waterproof clothing and something to eat and drink.
MEETING POINT & ROUTE: Minor dead-end road off the old A1 at Dunglass, 500 metres west of the Cockburnspath roundabout on the new A1, and opposite the entrance to the Dunglass Collegiate Church. Grid reference: NT769721 | Nearest Postcode: TD13 5XF | What3Words: craftsmen.chum.hedge | Route Map. There are various options to return to the start point after the walk: there is a shorter return route along the minor road from Pease Bay to Cove. Get in touch if you’d like to arrange a car shuttle.
CORONAVIRUS – IMPORTANT INFORMATION: During Geowalks activities, the aim is to keep everyone safe and to minimise the risk of transmission of Coronavirus. Everyone has a duty to minimise the risk to themselves and others. All participants must read this document “Geowalks: Coronavirus Pandemic 2020-2021: Information for participants on short walks (version 2.0 15Mar21)” and you can only attend a Geowalks activity if you have read and agree to follow the procedures outline, and accept the risks involved.
Most importantly, do not attend if you are experiencing any symptoms of Coronavirus, or if you, or anyone you have been in close contact with, has tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 14 days. The main symptoms are a new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste.