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“Always interesting” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Scottish Seabird Centre

Scottish Seabird Centre
The Harbour, North Berwick EH39 4SS, Scotland
+44 1620 890202
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Owner description: The Scottish Seabird Centre is a five-star visitor attraction with an award-winning Discovery Centre, set in a stunning location overlooking the sea and sandy beaches of North Berwick, East Lothian. A world-leader in remote wildlife viewing, the Seabird Centre has solar powered cameras on the Firth of Forth islands - these are controlled by visitors to the Discovery Centre, who can zoom in on amazing wildlife without disturbing it in any way. There's the chance to see puffins, gannets, seals and more - there is different wildlife to see throughout the year and at different stages of the breeding season. There are seasonal boat trips - with a range of different types on offer - from Easter until October. There are trips to the Bass Rock, which is home to 150,000 gannets at the peak of the breeding season; Craigleith, which is the focus of the Centre's SOS Puffin project; and the Isle of May National Nature Reserve. Open all year, the Centre offers something for everyone with a Wildlife Theatre, Kids' Zone and Kids' Corner, Scope Deck plus exhibitions and events. There is an excellent gift shop and the Seabird Cafe features the only seaside sun deck in East Lothian.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Stairs / elevator, Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities
Hawick, Scotland
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Always interesting”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 13, 2013

A great place to visit with grandchildren. The downstairs area often has craft activities, there are interactive areas, the cameras are fascinating all year round and the cafe has a wide range of reasonably priced food, and is child friendly. Nice things in the gift shop too. Our membership has been well worth it as we make a lot of visits now.

Visited September 2013
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Chatham, Massachusetts
Top Contributor
81 reviews 81 reviews
36 attraction reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
66 helpful votes 66 helpful votes
“Trip to Bass Rock (North Berwick, UK)”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 12, 2013

Bass Rock, small island located off North Berwick, about an hour drive outside Edinburgh, is a magnificent "must see" for any bird lover. During the early summer, it's home to an enormous gannet colony. You'll also see puffins, razorbills, gillemots, fulmars, and a variety of other shore birds. You can take a guided boat ride out to Bass Rock and can probably find out about the tours available through the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick -- assuming they don't offer a tour themselves.

Visited July 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
86 reviews 86 reviews
36 attraction reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
62 helpful votes 62 helpful votes
“Amazing Boat Trip to Craigleith and Bass Rock”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 10, 2013

I have visited the Scottish Seabird Centre a couple of times and although there is plenty to do, especially if you like sea birds, the most thrilling thing was the boat trip on the Seafari Explorer out to the islands of Craigleith and the Bass Rock. I had thought that I might be a bit bored but the boat trip itself was really good fun, not only for me, but for my young son. The sight of all those gannets on the Bass Rock was spectacular, with them swooping and circling overhead. We saw a few of the young birds without flight feathers and although the smell from the island was pretty horrible it was not as bad as I had thought. After seeing the Bass Rock from shore for so many years it was nice to see it close up.
I also have to give the café a thumbs up, especially Helen, who serves the most delicious light lunches and snacks in a relaxed friendly atmosphere.
I would recommend the boat trip to anyone planning to visit this attraction but better to book in advance as they can sell out.

Visited September 2013
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Ottawa, Canada
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Seafari excursion fun”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 10, 2013

Although the website urges you to book ahead, I was glad we hadn't as the later trip had been canceled but we were just in time for the earlier one. The small catamaran took us out to Craigleith and Bass Rock; Caigleith had several seals bobbing about and Bass Rock had thousands of gannets and the ruins of the Covenanter's prison. An excellent run-down of the island's history is given, and we really enjoyed the entire tour.

Visited September 2013
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London, United Kingdom
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30 reviews 30 reviews
18 attraction reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
“Bass Rock trips too unreliable.”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 4, 2013

The Scottish seabird centre organise boat trips to land on the Bass Rock. I was lucky enough to go on one of these trips in July 2009 so this year I tried to repeat the experience. I tried to land both in June and then in August of this year. Unfortunately my experience was very like that of Govag Yessir. Both trips were cancelled at the last minute when I had incurred considerable expense in paying for a train from London first to North Berwick (June) and then to Dunbar (August). In addition I had to pay twice for accommodation. None of these expenses were refundable. On neither occasion did the weather forecast or conditions on the day begin to justify the cancellation of the trip. On both days I had clear blue skies and calm seas. Indeed for the trip in June not only were there fishing boats near the rock at the time I was supposed to sail, but also the Centre's trip to the Isle of May left a few hours later and went right past the Bass Rock. The conditions were no better then than when the trip to the Bass Rock was supposed to leave. It is a pity the Scottish Seabird Centre does not do more to make the trips reliable as on the one occasion when I was able to land (in 2009) I had a great time.

Like Govag Yessir my experience of last minute cancellation is very far from being unusual. Indeed the reputation of the centre is that cancellation is very frequent. I have heard this both from the various Bed and brekasfasts I have stayed at and from friends who have tried to do the same trip.This is a great shame as the attraction is well worth visiting and the staff working at the centre are very pleasant.

Visited June 2013
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Puffin2000, Manager at Scottish Seabird Centre, responded to this review, September 6, 2013
Thank you for your feedback. We are very sorry to learn of the expenses you’ve incurred in trying to land on the Bass Rock on one of our landing trips his year, and the disappointment you’ve experienced at the cancellation of the trips. Unfortunately the weather conditions can be unpredictable, and while we make every effort to ensure our sailings go ahead as scheduled, the main issue for us is the safety of our passengers and our crews. Our skippers keep a close eye on the weather forecast in the days leading up to scheduled landing trips, and it’s our policy to make a decision on whether the weather conditions will allow the planned sailing to proceed around 24 hours before the sailing time to inform people who may be travelling from outwith the area to cancel or alter their travel/accommodation arrangements. We will always have the issue of a balance between not wishing to disappoint visitors who have booked with us by cancelling the trip in enough time for them to change their arrangements, but our intention will always to be to proceed with the sailing unless we have safely concerns. The safety aspect will always be paramount, and we are certain that the hundreds of passengers who enjoy boat trips with us every year would expect that level of care from us.

You’ve mentioned that when you visited the area, you could see no reason why the sailing couldn’t have gone ahead, but as mentioned above, the weather conditions can quickly change, and in the professional opinion of our highly trained skippers who have years of experience in operating these trips, there was sufficient cause for concern the day before to justify cancelling the trip. In addition, the Bass Rock can be particularly difficult to land on – it’s very weather dependant: more so than the Isle of May. Given the geology of the Bass Rock and the fact that it is home to more than 150,000 gannets during the breeding season, we would also look at this in tandem with weather related issues to decide whether conditions underfoot might be hazardous to passengers landing on the island.

We totally understand your disappointment, but as mentioned earlier, we make every effort possible to go ahead with the boat trips. However we do cancel where there are genuine concerns over health and safety.

We do hope that you will visit again, and hope that the weather conditions will be positive for you on the next occasion, to enable you to repeat the special experience of landing on the Bass Rock.
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