Monday 1 June 2015
Dunbar to North Berwick
I left early to catch the 2 buses I needed to get to Dunbar. I decided there was no need to head back to Cockburnspath and walk around Torness Power Station so I’d start at Dunbar. I met Andrew on the bus, or rather he decided he wanted to meet me. Just like when I caught the bus to school as a child, I seem to have retained the attractivity I had then for some of the world’s slightly stranger folk. The conversation was slightly one sided as I struggled to understand his accent and had to maintain breathing through my mouth in order not to faint. I was alarmed at one point that he might want to walk with me for the day but fortunately not. Bless him.
Dunbar gives the impression of a nice little seaside town with the ruins of a castle on the headland and the obligatory golf course.
This section of coast is full of links golf courses and North Berwick seems to be the centre for the grey golfing pound in East Lothian as there are courses everywhere. Dunbar was the home of John Muir, the founder of the National Park movement (albeit in America!) and he is widely celebrated. I started today’s walk along the John Muir Way, until Tyninghame where it heads further inland. Tyninghame itself is slightly inland but is on the road with the only public bridge across the River Tyne. This requires a trek around Belhaven Bay but it does give a good view of the fertile farmlands of East Lothian, known as “the breadbasket for Scotland”. I had tried to take a footpath through the Tyninghame House estate but after 25 minutes of walking I reached a private bridge over the River Tyne and it had a padlocked gate, so my plan to cut a corner and avoid a busy A-road was thwarted. The field behind the gate contained a herd of Limousin Cattle, including an enormous bull, so conceding defeat was probably for the best. My presence must have been unusual for the wildlife and I disturbed 9 herons who were all fishing from the same riverbank.
The weather had been generally fine, some sunshine and very windy. Every so often a 2 minute shower would appear from nowhere and I’d still be wearing my sunglasses, as the sun was still shining, while getting rained on. Very strange.
Due to my fruitless diversion I arrived at Tyninghame village coffee shop in time for a spot of early lunch so it worked out well. After that the route got trickier as the coastal path seemed to disappear on me. I headed onto Ravensheugh Sands and it was completely deserted. The dunes made a sort of cliff so the beach was only accessible at a few points. There were rocks under the water and lots of eider ducks paddling around and grazing, as well as gulls, plovers and oyster catchers.
The tide was quite high by the time I was dancing over Scoughall Rocks and eventually I was forced off the beach near the headland.
Although there was a sign in Dunbar claiming a coastal path existed, I can verify, it doesn’t. Once off the beach I had to battle my way around a wheat field, climb over a wall and walk through private land before I reached Seacliff hamlet. From here it is possible to drop down a dirt track to a lovely beach, which I presume is pretty quiet. I had to walk a mile on the A198 and the sky was darkening and threatening rain. I looked across the field at Tantallon Castle but didn’t make the detour to reach it as there were no paths on the map and I’d had enough of fighting my way through path-less land. Well what do you know, as soon as I left the road where it overlooks the beautiful Canty Bay, I was fighting my way through long grass and nettles again with no sign of a path.
Finally I reached the Glen Golf Course overlooking North Berwick from the East and could drop down into the town to catch the 2 buses back to Ali’s. Fortunately it didn’t start raining until I was on the bus.