HIGH stone walls, the knowledge that there is a “big house” somewhere beyond the trees and a myriad of tracks and paths.
At first glance, important country piles can be a daunting prospect, not the place for a relaxing stroll, more a place to be studied during a history lesson.
This, however, could be a rather dated perspective. Nowadays many estates welcome walkers, sometimes charging a small fee to enter the grounds with requests to keep dogs on leads.
This is the case at Gosford Estate in East Lothian where a walk around the parkland is historically interesting and a real escape from the modern world. As well as the trees and open spaces there are the 18th-century ponds and associated small buildings to enjoy before the imposing grandeur of the Robert Adam-designed Gosford House.
So don’t be daunted. You are welcome here and can enjoy a stroll that is slightly different than on the nearby beaches.
DISTANCE 2 1/2 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED Negligible.
TIME 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 66.
PARK There is a car park at the Gosford Bothy Farm Shop, about half a mile west of Aberlady on the A198. You have to pay £1 at the shop for a day permit to walk around the estate.
IN SUMMARY Head to the bottom of the car park and turn left to go through a wooden gate. Follow a track on the other side, with a high stone wall to the right. Ignore turnings off the main track as it swings right then, after a few hundred yards, go left to join a larger track. This leads in front of the estate’s 18th-century mausoleum.
After walking round the mausoleum continue on the track then follow a grass path on the left, just before a low stone bridge. Again, ignore turnings off and continue on the main path until you reach a junction. Go right here, cross a bridge and continue to the estate’s circle of large ornamental ponds.
Go left to walk by the water and reach a small house-like building, built to keep curling equipment. Beyond this you pass behind a boat house then continue by the side of the main pond. Just before the end of a second pond take a path on the left which leads to a large lawn in front of the main house. Go left to enter trees by the side of the lawn, near an old, metal, spider-shaped construction. A grass path leads to an estate road by the left of the house. Go left then across a junction to reach the other side of the house. Follow the road round, keeping right at junctions to make a large circle of the house.
After re-entering trees cross a junction then go between two large stone gate posts. A track beyond leads back up to the mausoleum from where you retrace the early part of the walk to return to the car park.
REFRESH The café at the Gosford Bothy Farm Shop is a good place to stop. The shop has a range of deli food and a butcher’s counter.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Dirleton Castle is worth exploring (www.historic-scotland.gov.uk), or try the National Museum of Flight (www.nms.ac.uk) where you can learn about aviation from the Wright Brothers to Concorde.