Showing posts from February, 2019

Portobello Beach

City of Edinburgh | Portobello | Beach | ★★

It's often forgotten that Scotland's capital, Edinburgh is only a few miles from the sea, and boasts a handful of excellent urban beaches within the city boundary. Perhaps the best is at Portobello, where lines of groynes help protect a mile of sand overlooking the point at which the Firth of Forth mixes with the North Sea. At sunny weekends and during school holidays this a popular spot for locals, with a strip of amusement arcades, cafes and seafood restaurants doing brisk trade even on our February visit. Portobello itself is often championed as a quirky, bohemian suburb with a long history as a tourist destination. Well, if you say so - apart from an unusually high number of charity shops and organic / vegan eateries, there's more of an air of faded glory than hipster highlights. But let that take nothing away from a beach many other cities would envy.

Location & info

📌 Portobello Beach ★★
Off Bath Street, Portobello, 3 mi…

Ormiston Market Cross

East Lothian | Ormiston | Market cross | ★

Another one from the Historic Environment Scotland's most obscure annals, Ormiston Market Cross forms the medieval centrepiece to a quiet East Lothian village. Except for the steps at the base, the cross is believed to date from about 1450, which makes it one of the oldest market crosses to survive in Scotland. A faint crest on the west face probably used to detail the coat of arms of the local landowner. Market (or mercat) crosses were erected to grant settlements the rights to hold markets, yet Ormiston is a planned village set out only in the 1700s. The cross therefore pre-dates the houses visible today by a few centuries - not much seems to remain of the "old" village apart for the cross itself.

Location & info

📌 Ormiston Market Cross
Main Street / B6371, Ormiston village centre, G.R.: NT 414693 ///series.tend.eating
Always open | Free

Doon Hill

East Lothian | Dunbar | Ancient settlement | ★

Doon Hill is labelled on Ordnance Survey maps as an an Anglo-Saxon Hall - but don't expect that much. This is a complicated place. Latest thoughts suggest a 6,000 year-old timber hall, followed by a replacement on almost exactly the same site 4,000 years later. Why? The answer is unknown. To the north was a temple probably used for burial or cremation, with evidence for further buildings dotted around nearby; finally, a timber palisade enclosed all of the above. None of this would really be visible on the ground (except, perhaps, from above) if it weren't for a set of concrete markers placed by Historic Environment Scotland, with an interpretation board elaborating further. Is it worth visiting? Not for the physical remains, but perhaps for the air of mystery. There are also fine views of the East Lothian coastline from the access track.

Location & info

📌 Doon Hill
At track end, off minor road 3 mi south of Dunbar, G.R.: NT 68…

Skateraw Beach

East Lothian | Dunbar | Beach | ★★

Sandy beach, attractive horseshoe shape, public toilets, nuclear power looming to the east, good sea fishing (apparently) due to raised water temperatures thanks to waste water from the power station... Skateraw Beach is a strange place, best visited at low tide. We can't imagine spending a family day out here, but others clearly can: it was surprisingly busy on our February visit. Nevertheless, we think nearby Thorntonloch Beach is a better spot.

Location & info

📌 Skateraw Beach ★★
At minor road end 4 mi east of Dunbar, G.R.: NT 737756 ///poses.handy.worker

Thorntonloch Beach

East Lothian | Cockburnspath | Beach | ★★★

Quickly reached from the A1 main road, Thorntonloch Beach has several strings to its proverbial bow besides easy access. On the south side, a mile of usually crowd-free sand: this part of East Lothian is relatively sparsely populated and there are plenty of other beaches nearby. On the north side, extensive (though muddy) rock pools good for spotting wildlife and wading birds at low tide. Oh, and we should probably mention the nuclear power station immediately to the northwest! Anyway, if you don't mind that, you'll have a blast...

Location & info

📌 Thorntonloch Beach ★★★
At minor road end off A1 3 mi north of Cockburnspath, G.R.: NT 752746 ///seasick.onions.gladiator

Walk: Cocks & brochs of Abbey St Bathans

Scottish Borders | Lammermuir Hills | Half day walk | ★★★

The peaceful hamlet of Abbey St Bathans sits in a particularly remote corner of the Scottish Borders, but this is a district well worth seeking out. Scattered across the local hillside is a fascinating collection of ancient settlements, forts and cairns, including Cockburn Law's Iron Age ramparts and Edin Hall Broch. The scenery on this circuit either side of the attractive Whiteadder Water is rewarding even without the history aspect, with views across the Lammermuirs, Cheviots and southeast into England from the higher parts of the route. Call in at the Riverside Bakehouse at the start / finish, and let us know what you think!

📌 Walk: Cocks & brochs of Abbey St Bathans ★★★
Start / finish at car park in Abbey St Bathans, G.R.: NT 763619 ///tins.slips.organist

▶ 10 km / 6 mi | ▲ 360 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate
Features: △ Cockburn Law (325 m); Edin's Hall Broch
Terrain: Mixture of minor roads, tracks and hill / coun…