This celebration of Scotland's coastal mainland harbours over four volumes is a fascinating insight into history, local festivals, marinas, boating opportunities and more, says literary contributor, Julia Jones

Harbouring-a desire

Kevin Scott

Lulu £17.00 each

These four volumes represent an impressive commitment of time and knowledge.

Kevin Scott set himself to chronicle all the coastal harbours of mainland Scotland, anti-clockwise around the coast.

There are various exclusions: no settlements inland of main bridges and firth crossings, nor up the great sea lochs.

Nevertheless, there are 340 ‘places of refuge’ described and photographed.

The series opens in the area of the author’s boyhood.

He has cherished memories of the ‘raucous’ fresh fish market of Eyemouth harbour and his survey commences a few miles further south at the small, drying harbour of Burnmouth.

They area, he reminds us, was the setting for Nigel Tranter’s historical novel A Kettle of Fish which bases its plot on a 19th century fishing wars episode.

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Scotland’s fishing history naturally plays a major part in Kevin Scott’s exploration of the coastal harbours. It also dominates his introduction.

Beyond fishing there’s an eclectic range of information covering history, local festivals, marinas, boating opportunities, restaurants, smuggling and statuary.

The information is crammed around a large number of rather small photos so it’s not necessarily easy to home in on particular interests – marina facilities for instance.

However this is a celebration of Scottish harbours rather than a gazetteer so the best reading approach is to take the information as it’s offered and plunge in with enjoyment, ready to be interested in the author’s discoveries.

I noticed he was often very good on what cargoes might have been landed at different jetties.

Personally, I usually felt more interested in the information about commerce than castles but there’s sufficient for all tastes.

The four volumes cover Burnmouth to Montrose, Johnshaven-Wilkhaven, Littleferry-Lochaline and Argyll-Annan.

It’s probably unnecessary to point out that these are books researched from inland therefore, although there is frequently some commentary on the harbour entrance and facilities, they are no substitute for a pilot guide or almanac.

Beyond their intrinsic interest, however, they have a claim on sailors’ support as all proceeds from sales are donated to the RNLI.

The books are available only from the Lulu bookshop: www.lulu.com/shop where you then enter either the book titles or the author’s name.


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