I have done the sums and looked back through the records and am proud to announce that it appears that June 2013 has been the busiest month ever in the history of visitors coming to the island.
June has been great weather and only one sailing of the May Princess was cancelled for bad weather. After the weather being so poor last year I think many people have taken advantage of the sun and calm seas to get over to see the island and its seabird spectacle. But I don't think that is the only reason. Never has the island had a higher media profile as in the last 3 months it has featured on ITN News twice (puffin wreck and puffin count), BBC Countryfile (seabird populations), BBC Springwatch (shags and puffins) and BBC Midsummer Live (puffins and terns) along with numerous newspaper articles and an article in the BBC Wildlife magazine. Coupled with this is the May Princess under new ownership offering an even higher level of customer service and a spruced up appearance, the RIB Osprey boat service becoming better known and an increased schedule offered by the Scottish Seabird Centre for trips from North Berwick which all makes it easier to get to the island. We can only hope that the people who have made it over have enjoyed themselves and spread the word but also put some thought into what they could do to help the seabirds of the island.
|The May Princess brings the bulk of the visitors to the island.|
|The RIB Osprey is an exciting ride.|
|Scottish Seabird Centre RIB comes in with another load of visitors.|
Of course our statistics don't go back as far as the time in history when the priory was receiving pilgrims from across Europe. Up to tens of thousands of people a year crossed the water to visit the holy isle, the numbers illustrated by the fact that though there were only 6 monks looking after the place there was a 10 seater toilet (we currently only have 2 for the visitors!) - open plan of course, so the archaeologists tells me.
For this June we have had 2785 visitors in total so probably nothing like what the monks had to deal with. But this not only represents a good number of people with interest in the nature reserve but they also all spend money in the East Neuk and North Berwick as well as create jobs in these areas so a busy month is perfect for illustrating just how important nature reserves such as the Isle of May NNR are to the local area. Here's hoping for a good rest of the season.