Scottish East Coast
Best months:
September to April

Scottish East Coast

Scotland, United Kingdom
LAST UPDATED 28/02/2008
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Pic: Surfer taking to the air at a popular Scottish break; Author: Matt Smith/

The East coast of Scotland is a massive stretch of coastline from the border with England right up to Caithness in the far North. With a length of approximately 500km it has enormous wave riding potential. The water here is cold, the gulf stream that keeps the northern Scottish surf breaks milder doesn't wrap around this far and its not uncommon for the temperature to drop to 4 degrees C in the winter months with a -10 deg C wind chill factor, February feeling the coldest. For 20 years or so the surf population here was kept low but thanks to massive advancements in wetsuit technology more people are getting in the water and line-ups are crowding gradually.


Pic: Surfer enjoying a few Scottish waves; Author: Matt Smith/

The East coast of Scotland on the North Sea doesn't receive swell quite so consistently as its Atlantic counterparts but it does get more swell than many people might imagine. The swells here arrive from the Northerly, Easterly and Southerly directions. The Northerly swells would generally be the cleanest and longer lasting swells as they are generated form North Atlantic low pressure systems tracking across the far North towards Norway. The Easterly and Southerly swells are generated more locally by storms in the North sea and consequently having a shorter fetch therefore a shorter lifespan. Fraserburgh is probably a good place to base yourself here as being where it lies there is 270 degrees of swell window all with a short drive picking up any swell going in the North Sea!


Pic: Bandits on tour; Author: Matt Smith/

The East coast of Scotland has pretty good access in the form of the A1 which follows the coast between Berwick and Edinburgh, from there you will have to take the A90 to Fraserburgh where it turns into the A98 and then the A96 to Inverness. This is the same route as you would take on a pilgrimage to Thurso and the North coast, which are accessible a few more hours north on the A9.

where to stay

Pic: Camping in Scotland; Author: Matt Smith

Scotland has many options of places to stay, self catering holiday are becoming very popular with weekly rentals in cottages or wooden lodges, these are usually well furnished and in beautiful locations.

For the traveller on a budget the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) has a great network of hostels all over Scotland with high standards of accommodation at a cheap price, the rooms are usually of a shared dormitory style.

Camping is another inexpensive way of touring Scotland, though the unpredictable weather makes it less appealing than in some other countries. In remote areas campsites can be a significant distance apart so buy an up to date guide and plan your route. Booking is not usually necessary except in peak season. Generally, the rule is the more remote the campsite, the better the scenery and the lower the cost. Some campsites may only provide basic amenities. Camping rough is possible in remote areas, but observe local signs, and never camp next to a stream that could rapidly become swollen by overnight rain. Midges (tiny biting insects) can be a particular nuisance during August and September: the insects are harmless but incredibly irritating.

Bed and Breakfast accommodation is widely available, even in remote areas and some very good deals can be found. Many people consider these to be more friendly and welcoming than a hotel. Local tourist information centres will help you find a room for the same night, these usually includes a full Scottish breakfast.

what to pack

Pic: Amundsen in ice; Author: Robbot; Date: 06.10.07

During the summer months (May-Sept) you'll need short sleeved t-shirts, shorts and long trousers (pants) and probably a light jacket or pullover for the more blustery days and evenings and sun cream for days out on the water. In winter bring long trousers (pants), warm pullovers, warm waterproof coats, scarves, hat and gloves!!

As far a wetsuits go you'll need a good quality 3/2mm steamer for Summer, add boots and gloves for Spring/Autumn. For Winter it's strictly 5/3mm steamer, boots, gloves, hood, thermal rashie and a strong will to surf!!

For boards you normal size 6'2" - 6'6" (depending on ability etc) thruster for 2-4ft waves will suffice most of the time. You might want to add a 6'7" - 7' for the bigger epic days on the points and reefs.

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