Walk of the week: Aberlady Bay to Gullane

Aberlady bay to Gullane, East Lothian. Picture: Contributed
Aberlady bay to Gullane, East Lothian. Picture: Contributed
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THE low sun at this time of year is fantastic. The rays catch hillocks, rocks and trees in a way which is missed by the high summer sun, adding to the beauty of autumn.

The coast is a good place to catch this sunlight and nowhere more so than East Lothian; even driving along the shore of the Firth of Forth to reach the start of this walk at Aberlady Bay is a joy.

Bird life thrives here, as well as roe deer. So, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as well as the sandy beaches, dunes, rocky outcrops and little bays.

The route described is one way; although you can return by going inland, it is far nicer to go back the way you came, possibly after taking a detour for lunch in the centre of Gullane.

DISTANCE 3 miles (one way).

HEIGHT CLIMBED 160ft (one way).

TIME 1 1/2 to 2 hours (one way).

MAP OS Landranger 66.

PARK There is a car park for the Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve next to the A198, about half a mile east of Aberlady.

IN SUMMARY Leave the car park by a long wooden footbridge which crosses the Peffer Burn. A path bears left at the end of the bridge and passes reed beds. A few hundred yards further on the path twists through a tunnel of sea buckthorn to emerge at Marl Loch.

Follow the straight path beyond the loch, with Gullane’s golf fairways to the right. After a few hundred yards go left at a junction, following a sign helpfully marked “footpath”.

At the next junction, where the path forks, go left – it is really more heading straight ahead. The path crosses dunes to reach a fine stretch of sandy beach, which you drop down to and turn right. At the end of the beach clamber over rocks then keep on in the same direction to reach Gullane Point.

A number of paths head east from here – it doesn’t matter which you take, but it is preferable to stay close to the rocky shore and its little bays. After passing a wooden sign for “Aberlady Bay L.N.R.” – facing towards Gullane so you can’t see the words on approach – head across a sandy bay and take a steep path going up and to the right on the other side. After passing some wartime concrete defences you reach a track, where you go left to pass in front of a golf tee.

Just after this take a path going off to the left, marked by an arrow on a post. The path leads above the shore – keep right after a couple of hundred yards to ignore a path going left and continue up to a track, where you do go left.

At a junction next to a golf green go left, following a sign for “Gullane Bents”. This grass path leads above a car park, which you should drop down to because on the other side of it is a path leading to the lovely sandy beach of Gullane Bay.

If you have left a car at Gullane Bents car park this would be the end of the walk but it is better to walk back the way you came – maybe after a detour into Gullane for lunch.

REFRESH There is a wide choice in Gullane, where the Old Clubhouse serves good food. In Aberlady, you have the restaurant Ducks at Kilspindie and the Old Aberlady Inn.

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Along the coast is North Berwick where the Scottish Seabird Centre has telescopes and live webcams on Bass Rock (www.seabird.org).