Walk of the week: Dunbar to Barns Ness, East Lothian

GOLF courses often used to be out of bounds for walkers. Nowadays, however, there is a different spirit in the air and, thanks in part to the (relatively) new land access legislation, the edges of the hallowed fairways can be passed by hikers.

Dunbar to Barns Ness. Picture: Nick Drainey
Dunbar to Barns Ness. Picture: Nick Drainey

This walk, along the wonderful East Lothian coast, passes the esteemed Dunbar Golf Club, whose members allow public access to the edge of the course. There are plenty of signs informing you of this, and most of the golfers I have met seem to be amiable types.

You should stop occasionally to let the players make their shots. This ensures that you won’t get hit by a stray ball, but also gives you the chance to enjoy the view out to sea.

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With access past the golf course you can walk from Dunbar’s old harbour to Barns Ness Lighthouse. Dating from 1901, this was built by David Stevenson. It’s a good destination and makes for an interesting, varied coastal walk.

DISTANCE 8 miles, there and back.

HEIGHT CLIMBED Negligible (a few inclines on the roads in Dunbar).

TIME 4 hours.

MAP OS Landranger 67.

PARK There is parking at Dunbar Harbour – follow the signs from the top of the town’s High Street, down Victoria Street, then left down Victoria Place.

IN SUMMARY Leave the harbour and walk past the left side of the lifeboat station, up to a crossroads. Go straight on at the crossroads, following a sign for the East Beach. At the end of the very straight road you can go left to reach the East Beach and walk along its sands if the tide is out. Otherwise go right to walk up to a junction, where you go sharp left, down East Links Road – you meet the beach lower down after turning left down Roxburghe Lodge Wynd.

At the end of the beach follow a broad path along a sea wall. The path narrows as you reach the clubhouse of Dunbar Golf Club. This is where you should then take care of stray balls as you make your way along the shore side of the golf links. Eventually, you reach the wide bay of White Sands with Barns Ness lighthouse beyond. Follow a track at the end of White Sands, down the coast. You first 
pass some old lime kilns before Barns Ness lighthouse again comes into view.

Keep on the main track, which meets an access road for a car park at Barns Ness. Follow this down to the left and straight towards the lighthouse. Just before the lighthouse, a sign points right to a path, but you can go straight on towards the lighthouse buildings and bear right to reach the shoreline. It is possible to continue for miles along the coast, but this is a good point to begin retracing your steps to the start.

REFRESH There is a wide choice in Dunbar.

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA John Muir’s birthplace on Dunbar’s High Street has a museum explaining the work of one of Scotland’s greatest exports (www.jmbt.org.uk).