Area Focus: North Berwick

Sarah Devine samples the quality of life offered by the East Lothian town of North Berwick

North Berwick
North Berwick
North Berwick

The historic coastal town of North Berwick, in East Lothian is a popular choice for prospective house buyers, having recently been named the best place to live in Scotland by The Sunday Times’ Best Place to Live Guide.

The average house price in this picturesque harbour town, according to the guide, is £355,000, while the average cost to rent is £1,200 per calendar month.

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However, the overall average price of a property in North Berwick was £438,913 over the last year, according to Rightmove. That was up 5 per cent on the previous year and up 10 per cent on the 2015 peak, states the property portal.

With a population of less than 7,000, the town – twinned with Kerteminde in Denmark – boasts a close community while being just a short commute to the bustling Capital.

Surrounded by wildlife, and with 40 miles of coastline and access to world-famous golf courses, it is more than obvious why a property in and around this charming harbour town is highly sought after.

North Berwick’s history is reflected throughout the town, with the harbour having been at its heart since the 12th Century, when a ferry crossing to Earlsferry in Fife began transporting pilgrims as they journeyed towards St Andrews.

The town’s quaint architecture, pastel hues and vast sandy bays to the north and east of the town helped boost North Berwick’s popularity as a seaside resort significantly from the 1800s – as did the opening of the railway line to Edinburgh in 1850.

However, by the 1960s many of the central hotels and boarding houses had been turned into flats, as more holidaymakers looked overseas. These one to three-bedroom dwellings are set in traditional stone and white-wash buildings, many of which boast attractive terracotta roof tiles and sit above old-fashioned shop fronts.

More spacious properties can be found at Abbotsford Road, overlooking the famous West Links Golf Course. It is a street with a hefty price tag – its large Victorian houses sell for anywhere between £500,000 and £2.2 million.

Marine Parade feels just as grand, with spectacular views across Milsey Bay and the Bass Rock. The average value of a property here is £705,625, according to Zoopla.

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Recent developments include Miller Homes’ Ferrygate Meadow, comprising three, four and five-bedroom houses, to the east of the town. This area has proved attractive to commuters due to its location just off the A198, which follows the coastline to Musselburgh and Edinburgh, and is a 20-minute walking distance from North Berwick train station.

Dandara’s Barley Brae, to the west of the town on Tantallon Road, features contemporary three, four and five-bedroom homes, with open-plan living spaces and gardens. The Maple house type here is a four-bedroom property which includes a garage, French doors opening to a rear garden, and an ensuite shower room attached to the main bedroom.

Named in honour of the stunning 613-foot North Berwick Law, the adjacent Law Gardens by Cala Homes has spacious three-bedroom properties remaining, including The Arthur terraced house which benefits from private parking for two cars.

These new developments are close to local amenities, schools, transport links and offer unique coastal views.

Secondary education for the town is provided by North Berwick High School, which features strongly in The Times’ Scottish school league table for 2020 – it is rated 13th out of 343 such institutions which have pupils achieving five or more Highers.

Loretto School is nearby, an all-through independent day and boarding school in Musselburgh.

Younger pupils are catered for by Law Primary School, while independent education for this age group is provided by The Compass School, Haddington, and Belhaven Hill School in Dunbar.

Market value

Average market value of properties (Source: Zoopla)

Detached house £506,945, up 1.56 per cent in the last year

Flat £362,715, up 7.39 per cent in the last 12 months

Investigate at your leisure

North Berwick is a must for golfers, with more than 20 courses less than a half-hour drive away, including the North Berwick Golf Club, West

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Links – one of Scotland’s most historic – and East Links, which is more than 100 years old.

North Berwick Sports Centre boasts a 25-metre swimming pool, children’s trampolines, squash courts, gym and health suite, which includes a sauna, steam room and relaxation area.

North Berwick Tennis Club has been running since 1920 and has six all-weather courts, three artificial grass courts and three polymer courts. The venue is also host to the annual East Lothian Open tournament.

East Lothian Yacht Club, based at Victoria Road, benefits from the town’s vast expanse of water up to the famous Bass Rock. Members can enjoy organised events, training and coaching, as well as the use of moorings and facilities such as its licensed bar and cafe.

Set your sights on some local attractions

Scottish Seabird Centre This resource, between the West Bay and Milsey Bay, is a hub for Scotland’s marine environment and wildlife, aimed at inspiring and educating people of all ages. It offers a range of wildlife boat trips across the Forth, including to the island of Craigleith and a guided landing trip to the Isle of May, a national nature reserve with puffins, guillemots and razorbills.

North Berwick Law A 300-million-year-old volcanic plug which towers 600-plus feet over the town is a popular spot for hillwalkers. Once used as a naval outlook post, it offers breathtaking views across East Lothian’s stunning coastline. It takes about 30 minutes to walk to the top and is suitable for all levels of fitness.

Tantallon Castle Set high on a cliff edge east of North Berwick, this 14th-century ruin is a dramatic fortress which looks out to the Bass Rock. It was once a stronghold of the Red Douglas dynasty and endured three great sieges, the last of which saw Oliver Cromwell’s troops destroy the structure in 1651.

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