Season of purple patches…

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The predominant natural colour of springtime in the countryside is yellow, but in late summer, the hills and woodland edges are awash with glorious purple from rosebay willowherb, thistles, scabious and most spectacularly – heather, as I discovered on a recent outing to the coast.

My first stop to exercise the dog was at the wonderful Gordon Community Woodland, where the threatening rain failed to deter a pair of peacock butterflies from visiting a lovely patch of scabious in a wet flush.

St Abbs was my destination and the village was overflowing with divers of all shapes and sizes, resplendent in their shiny black wetsuits like a colony of beached dolphins. Air cylinders were everywhere and the harbour was full of bright orange inflatable craft, ready to take the divers out to visit the area’s unique underwater habitat. Gone are the days when fishing boats were king, but the new craze is bringing much-needed revenue to a village that would otherwise be struggling.

A trip to the nature reserve at St Abbs Head was a bit underwhelming as most of the seabirds that normally inhabit the cliffs in summer, have finished breeding and gone out to sea, leaving an eerie silence.

I really missed the noisy kittiwakes and soaring fulmars, but the seasons must move on. A walk round the Mire Loch was cut short when the rain started, so I headed a couple of miles down the coast to Coldingham, where I hoped the weather would improve.

I was rewarded with the return of the sun and here again I discovered lots of changes since my childhood days of paddling and making sandcastles on the beautiful sandy beach.

Baywatch-style lifeguards watched over the bathers and instead of lots of shivering, blue kids with chattering teeth frolicking in the North Sea surf in their knitted swimming trunks, wet suits were again the order of the day, even for the smallest kids. What wimps!

The sea was calm, with few waves, but normally it would be full of surf boards and body boards instead of the inflatable lilos of my youth.

On the way home I had to stop on Greenlaw Moor for a short walk to take in the breathtaking vistas of heather stretching as far as the eye could see. It only lasts for a couple of weeks but what an amazing spectacle it is.

It certainly was the purple patch of an otherwise ordinary day.