East Lothian offers a wealth of different things to see and do. It is a county of two personalities on the coast and inland. It’s relative proximity to the border with England meant East Lothian has been the stage for many periods of Scottish history and a day touring the county is a memorable and rewarding one.
As we leave Edinburgh we travel through Duddingston Village and the beachside town of Portobello. We venture on to the picturesque village of Aberlady
We’ll call at the 13th century Dirleton Castle, seat of the Norman De Vaux family. Like many border castles Dirleton was heavily damaged during the Scottish Wars of independence. By reformation times Dirleton had become somewhat derelict, however Oliver Cromwell reluctantly besieged the castle to expel a gang of marauders during the third English civil war, furthering the dilapidation of the building.
We continue to the fishing port town of North Berwick that features two volcanic plugs; The Bass Rock which is out at sea and home to a huge colony of seabirds and North Berwick Law to the south of the town. North Berwick hosts a picturesque harbour of small fishing boats and sailing yachts as well as a lifeboat station. We’ll visit the site of the North Berwick Witch Trials were over 70 woman were trailed by order of James VI.
Travelling on from North Berwick Tantallon Castle becomes dominant on the skyline. The impressive 5-story castle was built in the mid 14th centuary and was home to the Earls of Angus and saw a number of battles during its 300 year life before being ruined by Oliver Cromwell in 1651. Tantallon is also unique in its fortified design given the perilous cliffs to the east and its setting on the dramatic coast.
Dunbar & John Muir
From Tantallon we visit Dunbar where John Muir was born. John’s house is immortalised in the ‘John Muir Birthplace’ museum and shows the humble beginnings living in a strict and religious family before he emigrated to America to become one of the richest and influential characters of the late 20th century.
From Dunbar we then travel the short journey inland to the sleepy and quaint village of East Linton. The change in the landscape is marked, from rugged coastline to rolling hills. We’ll visit Preston Mill, a fine example of a watermill that processed the crops from surrounding farmland. Built in the 18th century it’s red tiled roof and tranquil setting seem more apt to a movie scene but the mill still works today, albeit more for tourists than for any mainstream production.
We then venture down the single track roads to Hailes Castle, a little-known but fantastic red-stone castle on the banks of the River Tyne. The castle was constructed in parts between the 13th and 16th century and also features a Doocot (Dove Cot). Hailes was a strategic stronghold during the Scottish wars of independence. In the 14th century it was owned by the Northumbrian De Gourlay family.
At the end of the day we head back to Edinburgh and to your accommodation. On the return leg you will marvel at the city Skyline ahead as you can make our Arthur’s Seat, the Castle and Docks in Leith. On a clear day you can even see the Forth Bridges in the far distance.
Optional Museum of Flight
For aviation enthusiasts the day is not complete without a trip to the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune and a visit to the worlds only commercial supersonic aircraft Concorde.
Optional Distillery Visit
It is possible to adjust this itinerary to visit East Lothian’s only whisky distillery near Pencaitland. Glenkinchie Distillery is a picturesque lowland distillery that has a fantastic tour and visitor experience.