ONE of Scotland’s few official lakes, Pressmennan Lake lies below Pressmennan Wood in East Lothian, cared for by the Woodland Trust.
Its position at the bottom of steep slopes makes it a great place for a short winter stroll. Children will be entertained by the work of Robin Wood, who has carved little homes in trees for the woodland creatures of his imagination, as well as wood carvings. Further on there are often swans in residence at the loch’s end. Finally, unless you wish to see more carvings, there is a chance to go up a little hill and enjoy views towards the Firth of Forth.
DISTANCE 3 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 440ft.
TIME 1∫ to 2 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 67.
PARK Leave the A1 at the Thistly Cross roundabout outside Dunbar and follow the B6370 for three miles to Stenton. Go left at the end of the village (in front of a primary school) and just less than a mile down a narrow country lane go left, following a brown sign for Pressmennan Wood down a track. There is a car park at the end of the track.
IN SUMMARY Below the parking area follow a path on the right, which starts next to a stone painted yellow. After only a few yards you reach a track, where you go right. Go right again almost immediately to leave the track and take a path alongside a small burn to reach the side of Pressmennan Lake.
You pass wooden sculptures and doors in trees, which are home to an array of creatures, before reaching a carved post with a hole in it – the Holey Posty – next to a track.
Go left to follow the track, which gradually gains height before dropping down beyond the end of the lake – which can be seen down to the left, through the trees. When the track ends (at the bottom of the hill) go left to follow a grass path over a burn and back towards the lake. The path leads to a small dam at the end of the lake, which you cross. At the other end follow a muddy path (to the left side of bench), which leads up to the track again, go right to follow it back uphill.
Just after the track has begun to lose height you have a choice to make. If you have young children with you, the best option may be to keep following the track all the way back to the car park – once past the Holey Posty there are more carvings to enjoy.
For a more energetic return and views over East Lothian to the Firth of Forth, go up a path to the left, which climbs uphill and swings round to the right. After losing a little height, ignore a path going down to the right and continue uphill. In a dip with a small wooden seat you can enjoy a view through the trees to Bass Rock before continuing to a picnic bench with views to Traprain Law and North Berwick Law. The path then drops down, all the way to the car park.
REFRESH Dunbar isn’t far and has a good choice of eateries.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA John Muir was born in Dunbar and the house on the High Street where the environmentalist spent his early years is now a museum explaining the work of one of Scotland’s most influential sons (www.jmbt.org.uk).