Year of Coasts & Waters

Visit East Lothian | Wednesday 11th March 2020 8:00am

The Year of Coasts & Waters is underway and as well as an inspiring events programme around the theme, here in East Lothian we are also celebrating our places, our people, our heritage and our food & drink.

This is the first in a series of blogs about our coastal places. 

North Berwick is a beautiful harbour town and our most popular destination for visitors and it’s not surprising!  Only a short train, bus or car journey from Edinburgh, this picturesque seaside town offers everything you need for a day out or a holiday. 

Tantallon Castle is perched on a cliff top with stunning panoramic views of the Firth of Forth Islands. You can see Fidra which inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.  Speaking of Treasure Island, in September take part in Treasure Coast 2020 activities including a treasure hunt and learning to talk like a pirate on International Pirate’s Day. Ahoy me hearties!

The Scottish Seabird Centre is right on the harbour front, explore the wonder of Scotland’s marine environment in the Discovery Centre and control interactive live cameras to get up close to the local wildlife.  If you want to venture further, take a boat trip to the islands.  You can even land on the Bass Rock!  The Bass Rock is the world’s largest gannet colony.  Sir David Attenborough said, “Bass Rock is perfection.  It is spectacular!”  Chris Packham describes The Bass as one of the “wonders of the natural world”.

Of course, any trip to the seaside would not be complete without ice cream and fish & chips.  North Berwick will not disappoint you on that front.  Alandas award winning ice cream is made with local East Lothian cream & milk and handmade fresh every day.  There is a great array of flavours to choose from!

From restaurants, cafes & takeaways you’ll not struggle to find your perfect fish & chips all using freshly caught local fish and seafood.  Why not try The Rocketeer Restaurant which is in the old Coastguard Station at the harbour?  Or, The Lobster Shack where you can treat yourself to fresh lobster, crab, sea bass & mackerel cooked to your liking.  If you prefer your fish & chips the traditional way outside in the fresh air, head to North Berwick Fry where you are guaranteed a warm welcome from owner Dino and the team.

The Scottish Ornithologists Club in Aberlady just along the coast from North Berwick is a must for bird lovers.  If you’re visiting this summer be sure so call in to the art exhibition ‘Coastal Birds’ from 27th June–19th August.  This exhibition showcases five artists who won bursaries to take part in the Sea Bird Drawing Course.

East Lothian is Scotland’s Golf Coast with 21 golf courses including championship links courses.  From 8th-12th July, The Renaissance Club hosts the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open for the 2nd year and will see the return of 2019 Champion Bernd Wiesberger to defend his title.  Then on 13th-16th August, the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open returns to the same venue.  This is a great competition showcasing the best of ladies golf.

The beaches in and around North Berwick are unspoilt and perfect for lazy days, picnics, rock pooling and paddling.  Here are some of our favourites…..

Milsey Bay is great for paddling and sailing little boats.  It has a paddling pond built into the rocks which is ideal when the tide is out.

West Bay is a long sandy stretch overlooking the islands of Craigleith, Fidra, Lamb & the Bass Rock.  If you fancy a spot of putting, there’s a green right behind the beach.

Seacliff is set below the impressive Tantallon Castle and has the smallest harbour in the UK.  A popular film location, you may recognise it from the 2019 Mary Queen of Scots film starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie.

Just outside of North Berwick you will find Yellowcraig & Gullane Bents. You can view the 1885 Fidra lighthouse from Yellowcraig which is popular with families boasting a BBQ site, play park and walking trails.  At Gullane Bents enjoy a spot of windsurfing, canoeing and kite flying against the backdrop of sandy dunes famous for sea buckthorn and wildlife.

If you’re planning your Year of Coasts & Waters adventure, North Berwick is a wonderful place to start.