Visit East Lothian: Places to stay, things to do

Cliff-top castles and rare seabirds, Hannah Foley discovers the highlights of Scotland's East Lothian

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Why go there?

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Known for its golf courses there are plenty of other reasons to head to East Lothian at this time of year. The area boasts over 40 miles of unspoilt coastline, quaint market towns and excellent walking in the Lammermuir hills.

The sweeping coast is majestic with autumn rollers crashing onto the sands. Tantallon Castle, owned by Historic Scotland, towers above the spray and gulls. The castle was once the formidable stronghold of the Douglas Earls of Angus, one of the most powerful baronial families in Scotland. Indeed, Tantallon has a seen its fair of share of turbulent history. While visiting, you can see an exact replica of the kind of gun that would have been used to defend the castle against James IV (1491) and James V (1528). The mighty stone curtain wall is one of the best examples of 14th century architecture in Scotland. At this time of year the castle is open between 9.30am to 4.30pm everyday except Thursday.

East Lothian has many stunning beaches and one of the best is Yellowcraig. From the natural cove at Yellowcraig you can see the 1885 lighthouse on Fidra Island, which was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. The beach is ideal for dog walking, horse riding and rock pooling. If the weather is proving too blustery by the water’s edge you can opt to explore the network of footpaths through the sheltered woodlands and extensive grassland. East Lothian also hosts the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick. Here you can take a sneaky peek at the activities of all sorts of seabirds and marine mammals by controlling cameras on Bass Rock and the Isle of May. There is also a Kids’ Zone with soft play and a Wildlife Theatre showing wildlife films all day.

Where to stay?

The Kipper House is an excellent option for accommodation at this time of year. Set right by the seashore in Dunbar the cottage boasts a sunny snug with a woodburning stove. This cosy little place is the perfect retreat after a day exploring, with its ideal vantage point for watching spectacular autumnal sunsets. Kipper House is self-catering and situated 30 miles from Edinburgh.

Where to eat?

At the Linton Hotel in Linton you can refuel beside the roaring open fire. The Linton is a good old-fashioned pub providing hearty fare made from local produce. The welcome is always friendly and the bar features 3 real ales which change on a regular basis.

Local Secret

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In 2002 the oldest hunter-gatherer house in Scotland was discovered close to Dunbar. It has been dated to approx 8300BC, making it not only one of the earliest sites in Scotland but the oldest house ever known in the country.