NX2533 : Big Scare

taken 6 years ago, near to Big Scare [other Features], Dumfries And Galloway, Great Britain

This is 1 of 5 images, with title Big Scare in this square
Big Scare
Big Scare
Arriving at the Big Scare on Luce Bay, early evening with a flat calm sea after a good weather day. A short 20 minute journey gets you to this rocky islet 7.5 miles from Port William in the middle of the bay. Boat optional.

Walking on Big Scare is a bit tough as this picture shows - the rocks are sharp, jagged and slippery especially when you're trying to negotiate them in a full survival suit used by lifeboat crews. LinkExternal link

It's pretty noisy and smelly on the Big Scare as you'd imagine with a couple of thousand breeding gannets using it as a home and toilet, but the experience of being there in the middle of Luce Bay is just something else, especially after overcoming a couple of fears of water and heights to stand on this isolated rock.
Scares Islands
In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Scares Islands as:
‘Scar - Big and Little, 2 rocks, in entrance to Luce Bay, Wigtownshire’.

The Scares or the Scare Rocks are rocky islets in Luce Bay off the coast of Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland although the pronunciation of the rocks varies according to which side of Luce Bay you were born on, I’ve heard Scares, Scars and Scarries. I am reliably informed however that the correct way to pronounce this group of rocks is 'Scar Rocks' with a silent 'e'.

Made up of the Little and Big Scares, the largest unsurprisingly is Big Scare which is 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) south west of Port William and a similar distance east of the Mull of Galloway. There is a small outlying rock to the west of Big Scare LinkExternal link and three companion islets called the Little Scares are about 1 km to the north east. LinkExternal link

The schooner Annie McLester was wrecked on Big Scare at an unknown date in the 19th century. On 27 January 1849 the 400 ton barque Archibald of Memel, was wrecked on the Little Scares. In September 1860 a small round-sterned four-oared boat, was picked up near to Big Scare. The parent vessel had presumably been lost in the vicinity although no record of this is known.

There is an MOD firing range in the area with brightly coloured floating targets deployed. The southern limit is marked by a yellow buoy 1.75 nmi SSE of The Scares and the buoys DZ1 to DZ6 mark the boundary of the range.

The islands are part of Luce Bay and Sands SAC and are leased to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. They have been described as an "inaccessible bird reserve" and provide nesting sites for more than 2,000 pairs of breeding Northern Gannets, hundreds of Guillemots and smaller numbers of Shags and Kittiwakes. Grey seals can also be seen around both groups of rocks. Depending on the light, the rocks can appear to take the form of a grey or white structure courtesy of sea bird guano.

The only way to get to the Scares is by boat and I am indebted to Murray and the Port William Lifeboat PIRSAC LinkExternal link who allowed me to join them for a training exercise on Luce Bay which took in a visit to the Scares and a landing on Big Scare to inspect the bird population particularly the Gannet and Guillemot breeding sites.

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Grid Square
NX2533, 25 images   (more nearby )
  (find more nearby)
Date Taken
Wednesday, 11 July, 2012   (more nearby)
Thursday, 12 July, 2012
Geographical Context
Coastal  Rocks, Scree, Cliffs 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NX 2579 3325 [10m precision]
WGS84: 54:39.8480N 4:42.1575W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NX 2575 3321
View Direction
Northeast (about 45 degrees)
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Image classification(about): Geograph (First for NX2533) · First in 5 Years (TPoint) (about)
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