WHILE farmland in Scotland supplies some of the best produce anywhere in the world – from beef and lamb to raspberries and potatoes – it is on the fringes that wildlife can thrive.
Even a small pocket of woodland can provide shelter for a wide range of flora and fauna.
The Woodland Trust, with East Lothian Council, looks after Butterdean Wood near the hamlet of Gladsmuir. Here birds such as the wren, goldcrest and chaffinch can feed, while roe deer graze below. Willow and birch are among the trees and already butterflies are darting about among spring flowers.
Much work has been done to improve the paths, although some muddy patches remain. The walk described below is the longest of two waymarked routes and makes for a lovely family stroll. Go at dawn or dusk for the best chance of seeing the roe deer, or even a badger or fox.
DISTANCE 2∫ miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED Negligible.
TIME 1 to 1∫ hours.
MAP OS Landranger 66.
PARK Turn south off the A199 at Gladsmuir (between Macmerry and Haddington) and follow a brown sign for Butterdean Wood down a single track road. After a third of a mile there is a small parking area on the right.
IN SUMMARY Continue to the end of the parking area and go past a large metal gate. After only a few yards go right, across a little footbridge over a ditch, and follow a path into the woodland.
The path bears left then follows the edge of the wood, next to fields. After a few hundred yards, near a recently fallen tree, the path veers left, into the wood, before returning to its edge again. Just after this the path bears left again before continuing in the same direction. After a small footbridge over a ditch, look for a marker post with a black dot on it and go sharp left, along a path.
On reaching the corner of a field go right then, instead of bearing left again on a more obvious path, keep right. A less distinct path crosses muddy forestry tracks, but becomes firmer after you have walked around a fallen tree.
Eventually, the path reaches a junction where you should go left. Pass another fallen tree and continue to a track, where you go left again. After passing a field on the right, go right to follow a path along its edge.
At the end of the field another marker post with black dots indicates a path on the left. Follow this quite muddy path to a track, where you go right. Ignore a path on the left, but at the end of the track do go left. After a small footbridge with handrails go left on a well-built track which leads to a track. Turn right along the track to walk the last few hundred yards back to the parking area.
REFRESH There is a nothing at the start of the walk – your best bet is to head to Haddington.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA You could go to one of East Lothian’s fantastic beaches or, still by the Firth of Forth, the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick – as well as interactive exhibitions, telescopes and live webcams on the Bass Rock, there is a great cafe (www.seabird.org).