Tag Archives: environment

Highlighting the plastic tide beneath the Forth Bridges

Ferryscraig BeachClean 2On Saturday 2nd June I took part in a beach clean on Ferrycraigs Beach in North Queensferry, recently named the worst in the UK for nurdle pollution.

Nurdles are small pieces of plastic which are the raw material used in the manufacture of plastic products. Spills and mishandling by industry can mean nurdles end up in the sea and wash up on our beaches.

Many nurdles are also consumed by marine animals and seabirds who mistake them for food, and it isn’t hard to see why after seeing how small, colourful and abundant on our beaches. Scotland has 10% of Europe’s coastline, and 61% of the UK waters meaning in Scotland we will feel the impact of marine pollution more than others.

Ferryscraig BeachClean 1

When we first arrived at Ferrycraigs I was astounded by the beauty of the location, nestled between the Forth Road Bridge and New Queensferry Crossing the instinct is to look up at these awe inspiring gigantic structures towering above us and the stunning views across the Firth of Forth.

However when I did look down I was equally shocked by the amount of plastic washed up on this small beach. I initially mistook the nurdles for the sand they had mixed with, then realised the ground was covered in them.

Organised by Adventures Around Scotland travel blogger Susanne Arbuckle and Catherine Gemmell, the Scottish Conservation Officer for the Marine Conservation Society UK, our group of 35 volunteers collected 12kg of rubbish in about an hour, including 861 pieces of plastic, which does not include the nurdles as these were too many to count!

Although it sounds a lot to collect it was slightly depressing to see the small dent we had made on the beach but as Susanne states on her website:


Small actions make a difference and the more people that carry out small actions, the greater difference it makes.”


For more information and to get involved see the links below. Illustrations were made on location with a fineliner and watercolour set.

Adventures Around Scotland website

Marine Conversation Society UK website 

New Year New Skills at the Engine Shed in Stirling

montage sketchesI will be running a series of workshops in Stirling this year at the Engine Shed, an educational conservation centre.

Scotland’s first dedicated building conservation centre is run by Historic Environment Scotland. Since opening last year it serves as a central hub for building and conservation professionals and the general public, and is a fascinating place to visit.

The original ‘shed’ dates back to around 1900, built as a goods transfer building it lies on the banks of the River Forth opposite the train station and enjoys great views over Stirling to the Castle.

I was there this time last week for a day of sketching and will return for more next month. During the morning I supplied paper and pens to visitors and encouraged them to sketch the displays as they toured the shed, before adding some paint with a watercolour wash. Above are some of the fabulous drawings created by visitors.


In the afternoon we had a more structured two and a half hour class where we worked on some sketching exercises and I shared some time saving tips to help capture a complicated view in a few quick lines.

I look forward to returning in February and to book a place on the next Sketcher Day keep an eye on the Engine Shed What’s On page via the link below.

The Engine Shed website

montage masks