Walk of the week: Preston Mill & Smeaton Lake, East Lothian

Preston Mill and Smeaton Lake, East Lothian
Preston Mill and Smeaton Lake, East Lothian
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PRESTON Mill was the last working water mill in East Lothian and is still in great nick under the stewardship of the National Trust for Scotland.

The picturesque setting, amid rich, rolling farmland, makes it a good place to simply look at. But when combined with a walk up into the old Smeaton Estate there is the chance to stretch the legs a little amid beautiful surroundings.

The Smeaton Estate was owned by the Hepburn family for 400 years until the 1930s. The grand mansion is long gone but a 19th century lake remains, which the current owners allow walkers to access.

Smeaton Lake is a good objective; the dense tree cover makes it seem like the estate owners of old were trying to hide this little oasis. There was curling on the water until around 30 years ago but now it is the collection of trees which stirs the senses on this great short walk.

DISTANCE 1∫ miles.

HEIGHT CLIMBED Negligible.

TIME 1 to 1∫ hours.

MAP OS Landranger 67.

PARK Preston Mill is closed for the winter but the car park can be found off the B1407 road to Tyninghame from East Linton – it is on the right, just before the national speed limit sign on the edge of East Linton.

IN SUMMARY Drop down and to the right from the car park to walk around Preston Mill and reach a wooden kissing gate, which you go through. You might wish to take a short detour left at this point to reach a white bridge over the River Tyne. Otherwise, go right after the kissing gate to follow the mill race to a footbridge, which leads you over it.

A path then goes along the river before turning right to reach the road you drove in on. Cross the road and go up an estate drive on the other side, with a sign for Smeaton Nursery and Tearoom next to it.

After about half a mile you reach an information board for Smeaton Lake. Go left here, through a wooden kissing gate, to follow a path through rhododendrons, yews and other plants typical of an old estate. The path reaches the lake and follows it all the way round to the other side. Ignore a turning left once you have walked the circuit of the lake and continue to another wooden kissing gate. Once through this, go right to retrace your steps to the start or go left to walk a few hundred yards to the tearoom and nursery.

REFRESH Smeaton Nursery has a tearoom – continue for a few hundred yards on the estate road beyond the entrance to Smeaton Lake. Otherwise, there are a few options in East Linton.

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 now holds a museum explaining the work of one of Scotland’s most influential sons. www.jmbt.org.uk

Or, the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick is a great place, with interactive exhibitions as well as telescopes and webcams on Bass Rock. www.seabird.org