Exploring East Lothian: beaches and books

High meteorological pressure and sunshine meant that heading to the beach was a must last week. There are several, covering about 40 miles on the East Lothian coast but our first choice was Tyninghame. We had been there on a number of occasions a few years ago, once for a New Year’s Day barbecue. After parking at the end of Limetree Walk where the parking attendant had just arrived and was checking everyone had purchased a ticket, we took the left-hand path which runs through the woods

down to Tyne Sands, passing some concrete World War 2 anti-tank defences before reaching the beach. The coast from Peffer Sands to Dunbar Castle is part of the John Muir Country Park. The tide was out

and we walked along Sandy Hirst, a promontory. I found quite a few pieces of sea glass. One of the few people we saw was a metal detector.

I don’t know how lucky he was going to be.

On the way back to the car I foraged some blackberries. On the way back to Edinburgh we stopped off in Haddington; sitting in the sun outside Falko’s with a coffee and then exploring the nearby Reading Room, a secondhand bookshop which also sells a few ornaments and confectionary. I found a missing volume of my New Naturalist and was very surprised to find that the bookseller was unaware that this was a collectible series. We wandered around the town centre for a while, noting some of the businesses that were here but not in North Berwick and a few of the older buildings, one of the which had been a Primitive Methodist Church. I had not known they had got as far as Scotland. The movement began at Mow Cop, not far from where we used to live and the bookshop I volunteered at supported the work of the Englesea Brook Museum of Primitive Methodism.

A few days later we met up with some friends from Cheshire who were camping at Yellowcraigs just east of the town on the coast. We arranged to meet at the lifeboat station and just before they arrived, I had a little wander around. On the shore is a statue ‘The Watcher’ by Kenny Hunter which looks out towards the Bass Rock with binoculars. Even he had a mask on!

In front of the seabird centre are the remains of St Andrew’s Auld Kirk. All that stands now is a small white-harled building that was the porch and some low walls behind. The church was destroyed in a storm in 1656 but there is said to have been one on the site for 1000 years prior to this. Pilgrims would come to North Berwick to catch a ferry to Earlsferry in Fife en route to St Andrews. There are some information boards inside the porch which contain information about some of the finds during archaeological digs on the site.

With our friends we walked along the West Beach which had quite a few dog walkers and others on it.

I spotted a curlew down by the water’s edge with some gulls. Afterwards, we had a coffee together. Before we left, I popped into the Pennyfarthing, a shop that sells antiques and secondhand books. On the way back to Edinburgh we passed a load of portable toilets and another of generators going to Archerfield which holds events. This was a little surprising in the midst of a pandemic. At Longniddry Bents there were a large number of wind surfers but I think that they could maintain social distancing on the water at least. There is a lot more to explore and we are looking forward to moving here in around a month’s time.

Through the wood to the beach, through the Borders to home

Sunday always makes driving a little more interesting. There was a woman in African dress at the filling station and we passed a vintage car on the bypass. The sunny morning meant we had to head for the beach and Tyninghame is a favourite. Walking through the wood to Ravensheugh Sands, I always find something to photograph whether it be emerging bracken shoots or trees.

New bracken Tyninghame 26 Apr 2015 (1 of 1)

Beach 8 Tyninghame 26 Apr 2015 (1 of 1)

We walked and beachcombed and the dog greeted all the other dogs out for a walk.

Beach 3 Tyninghame 26 Apr 2015 (1 of 1)

Beach 5 Tyninghame 26 Apr 2015 (1 of 1)

All too soon we had to leave and drove back along part of the Hillfoots Trail through the communities lying at the foot of the Lammermuir Hills. Just after Humbie and before we joined the A68, eight or nine Mazda MX5s passed, on a day out or heading towards and event perhaps. During our lunch stop just off the A68, it started to snow. Further on, near the Kielder Forest and Newcastleton, it was hailing. The rest of the drive was uneventful as most of the roadworks that have afflicted the northern M6 had been suspended but there are still plenty of potholes.

Sunny Sunday

Cold and windy but blue sky and sunshine from early morning so it was homeward bound with a detour to the East Lothian coast. We walked a short section of the John Muir Trail between Musselburgh and Prestonpans. We have walked this section to Aberlady a couple of years ago and really need to complete the rest of the trail. Flora enjoyed sniffing around on the beach and meeting other dogs. I did some sea glass hunting and could have wandered along the sand and shingle all day. However we did need to head home and so it was off southbound via a few B roads and then down the A7 to the motorway. The M6 was unusually quiet for a Sunday afternoon so a much easier journey than Friday evening. Now trying to warm up a cold house.John Muir Trail vs Musselburgh & Prestonpans East Lothian Beach Footprints in the sand Teasels by the sea