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24 September 2014

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Berwick-upon-Tweed to Aberdeen

Map showing Berwick-upon-Tweed to Aberdeen
The east coast from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Aberdeen is Scotland's Capital coast. Events that started here have shaped the British Isles as we know it today.

Berwick-upon-Tweed - at war with Russia?
Aerial picture of Berwick-upon-TweedIn the 13th Century Berwick was a thriving port. England and Scotland were constantly at war and both wanted Berwick.

In 1502, the Treaty of Perpetual Peace was signed bringing and end to the fighting. To stop the squabbling over Berwick, the town was given a semi-independent status.

A re-enactment of fighting that occurred at Berwick-upon-TweedBut how did its special status lead to war with the Russian Empire?

When Britain declared war on Russia in 1854 Berwick was given a special mention in the declaration of war but when peace was declared in 1856 Berwick was missed off - so are they still at war?

Neil Oliver joins Chris Green to figure out if Berwick is still fighting the Crimean War.

St Abbs - Wildlife Reserve
An aerial view of St Abbs Near St Abbs is a spectacular marine reserve - the only official one in Scotland.

Cathedral Rock consists of two huge underwater archways. A combination of the cold water current from the Arctic and the warm water of the Gulf Stream have created a huge number of marine habitats here.

Miranda Krestovnikoff delves into this wildlife sanctuary with underwater photographer Lawson Wood to see the variety of life living here.

Bass Rock
The Bass RockIn the 17th Century Bass Rock was the site of one of Scotland's most notorious prisons - but it has now been taken over by gannets which cover the rock.

Getting onto the island is just as difficult as getting off - as Neil Oliver discovers With the help of Ian Baird he makes three attempts - will rough seas and the weather wreck this third and final attempt to get on the rock?

Leith - Expedition for Scotland's First Colony
Sunrise at LeithHow did five ships leaving these docklands in July 1698 for Panama, transform the life of our isles?

To become a great European nation, Scotland needed to have its own colonies. Scotland wanted control of this shortcut to the Pacific but unfortunately they weren't prepared for the tropics.

Map showing Leith and its intended first colony in PanamaAfter a few years the colony was abandoned, leaving Scotland nearly bankrupt. The English Parliament said they would write off the debts if Scotland would join England to become one nation.

Despite widespread protest by the Scottish people the United Kingdom of Great Britain was born.

Forth Road Bridge
Aerial pictures showing the two bridges that cross the Firth of ForthEdinburgh reaches over Firth of Forth with two great bridges - the photogenic Victorian Forth Rail Bridge and the slender 1960's Forth Road Bridge.

The Forth Road Bridge suspends the road from cables, but it is being threatened by rust. Water has found its way inside the cables, causing them to rust and weaken.
Alice inspecting the cables with Bridge Inspector, Keith Perryman

It is predicted that in 2014 they may have to stop heavy good vehicles using it and possibly close it in 2019. How are they going to avoid this?

Alice Roberts meets up with Forth Road Bridge Master Alastair Andrew and Keith Perryman to find out what efforts are underway to save it.

Culross - Coal Mining
CGI showing how Sir George Bruce tunnelled down along the coal seam and beneath the sea bedWhat is the 400 year old connection between this picturesque coastal village and the birth of deep coal mining in Britain?

In the late 16th Century the country was powered by wood, and resources were being exhausted.

Local entrepreneur Sir George Bruce decided to tunnel down along the coal seam and beneath the sea bed - two centuries before the industrial revolution.
CGI showing the 240foot vertical offshore shaft
So coal could be loaded directly onto ships, he built a second access point - a 240ft vertical offshore shaft.

Hermione Cockburn joins local archaeologist Douglas Speirs to look at Bruce's work and contribution to the future coal industry.

Firth of Forth - Detecting German U-boats
Inchmickery Island's profile could be confused with a battleshipDuring the world wars the small islands guarding the inner Firth of Forth were invaluable in the battle to deter German U-Boats. From one angle Inchmickery Island's profile could be confused for a battle ship.

The Government asked for suggestions from the public on how to detect the U-boats.

A model of a submarine being stuffed with sardinesInventor Thomas Mills came up with the idea that if you use a model U-boat to feed gulls and tow the model around the coast, gulls would come to associate the sight of a periscope with a chance of food, flock around approaching U-boats and give away their positions.

With the help of historian Diana Maxwell and model maker John Riddell, Neil Oliver recreates Thomas Mill's experiment.

Aerial picture of PittenweemPittenweem - Local fishermen commuting to work
Neil Oliver joins up with Jim Wood and his son William.

Pittenweem's quaintness means that William has had to compete with commuters and holiday makers to own a property - and now he has to commute to work.

Firth of Tay - One of Britain's worst rail tragedies
Remains of a bridge that once crossed the Firth of Tay At the base of the railway that crosses over the Firth of Tay, are the remains of what was once the world's longest railway bridge.

But the pillars are also the remains of what was a tragic event. On the night of Dec 28th 1879 the bridge collapsed as a train was crossing. There were no survivors. The collapse of the bridge was put down to a lack of maintenance and bad construction.

Arbroath Smokies
The finished product - haddocks afer being smokedThis delicacy has had the might of European law behind them whereby it has been given Protected Geographical Indication under European Law - if it isn't made within 5 miles of Arbroath it isn't a genuine smokie.

Arbroath Smokies were invented in the nearby village of Auchmithie. A smokie is a delicacy that uses the traditional method of hardwood smoke and dense steam to cook a haddock. But one local man wanted to ensure that if you bought a smokie that it was the genuine article and not a cheap interpretation.

Neil Oliver joins Robert Spink and asks why he went as far as getting the might of the European Law behind the smokie.

Inverbervie - The battle of sail
Aerial picture to show huge sailsAt the start of the 20th Century steam powered boats started to take over from the fast sailing clippers in late 1800's that dominated trading routes. But sail fought back in the form of a fishing boat.

Mark Horton joins Maritime historian, Robert Prescott to find out about these fast herring fishing boats.

Picture of the ReaperTo qualify for the Crown Brand you had to land herring within 24 hours of catching them, so speed was important. Mark goes on The Reaper, a herring fishing boat that combined huge sails with 20th Century technology, which could make it outrun steam trawlers in favourable winds.

The late Tom Gardner's family handled herring boats for generations. Mark Horton joins him to find out about the importance of these boats for fishermen.

Aerial view of AberdeenAberdeen
The North sea gas and oil industry have transformed Aberdeen from a fishing port to one of the busiest ports in Britain.

But the oil industry is in decline - so what does the future hold?

Would you like to know what music was used in this programme?

Berwick-upon-Tweed to Aberdeen: Sunday 1 July, 8pm on BBC TWO


Coast Series 3

Shetland to Orkney

Bournemouth to Plymouth

Southport to Whitehaven (inc. the Isle of Man)

Cardiff to St David's

Berwick-upon-Tweed to Aberdeen

Galway to Baltimore

King's Lynn to Felixstowe

The Channel Islands to Dover

See Also

Meet your Coast experts:

Neil Oliver
Alice Roberts
Mark Horton
Miranda Krestovnikoff
Nicholas Crane
Hermione Cockburn
Dick Strawbridge

On the rest of the web

Voluntary Marine Reserve

The Bass Rock

Scottish Seabird Centre

Scottish Parliament - Treaty of the Union

Forth Bridges

National Trust for Scotland

Inchcolm Abbey

Naval history - detecting German U-boats

Royal Navy Submarine Museum

The Tay Bridge disaster

European Union foord designation system

The Cutty Sark

The Scottish Fisheries Museum

A history of St. Andrews

Fife coastal path

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Tel: 0870 900 7788

for a free Open University “Discover Your Coast” pack - or visit

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external links.

Programme 6 - Galway to Baltimore

Neil discovers how mysterious flotsam inspired Columbus' journey to America. Alice explores the botanical puzzle of "The Burren" - where Arctic plants grow next to Mediterranean flowers. Miranda reveals the surprising secrets of seaweed that make it the special ingredient in everything from toothpaste to beer.

  Map showing Galway to Balitimore

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