Walk of the week: North Berwick to Gullane
A LONG stride out along the coast is one of the best ways to spend a day as summer approaches.
If you are with young children, the sight of sandy beaches along this picturesque section of East Lothian’s shore may mean progress is slow as demands are made for sandcastles.
However, it is worth the exertion as you escape to a relatively remote coastline, including low cliffs and scores of rock pools. You should avoid high tide on this walk as there is a chance of being delayed by incoming water.
DISTANCE 7 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 110ft.
TIME 3∫ to 4 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 66.
PARK In the centre of North Berwick there are a number of places to park. This is a linear walk but you can return by a regular bus service from Gullane’s Main Street, or leave a car at the car park above Gullane Bents – follow a brown sign from the town’s main street, down Sandy Loan.
IN SUMMARY From the centre of North Berwick head west, down the town’s High Street. Go right, down Church Road, to reach a small slipway and the beach beyond it, where you go left and follow the shoreline.
When the tide is high you can follow a path at the top of the beach to get around some rocks before reaching Broad Sands.
Follow this long beach for about two-thirds of a mile where the coast bears west (left) to reach Yellowcraig beach with Fidra and its lighthouse offshore – said to have been an influence for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
At the end of the beach keep following the coast. (Note that there is a rough path above the shore, but this walk is best done when the tide is out to allow you to explore the rock pools and beaches, and to avoid being cut off further along. Go to ukho.gov.uk/easytide/easytide to check tide times.)
After a rocky section of shore, a wide bay is reached with the imposing Marine Villa at the far end. Once in front of the villa it is easier to take the path above the rocks. It eventually drops very steeply down to the start of another bay, which you follow to dunes. (Watch you don’t get caught by a high tide here.)
Follow the coast round the dunes and along a small bay. A series of sandy bays follows before a fairly large bay with pine trees set back above it. Climb up to some low stone ruins and follow the shoreline to the wide Gullane Bay. Follow the beach for almost two-thirds of a mile where a gap in the dunes (next to an emergency line) leads to a path up to a car park. (Where you may have left a car.)
To catch a bus back to North Berwick from the centre of Gullane, go left to follow the road out of the car park and at the top leave Marine Terrace and go right, along a road with stone walls on either side, to reach Gullane’s Main Street.
REFRESH There is a wide choice in both North Berwick and Gullane, but on a coastal walk like this it is a good idea to take a picnic.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA The Scottish Seabird Centre (seabird.org) at North Berwick is one of Scotland’s best tourist attractions with an interactive exhibition and telescopes on hand to see the birdlife.