Sunday, April 26, 2009

Walkabout Scotland: East Linton to Dunbar

I knew that there were various places to go walking around Edinburgh, but I had no idea how many trails and how much walking out and about was possible until I started looking. It all started when I stumbled across the East Lothian Walking Festival when I was investigating places to ramble about for when my little sister comes to visit in July.

Once I discovered the East Lothian Walking Festival, it wasn't too long before discovered there were walking and rambling clubs right here in Edinburgh. And pretty much anywhere you'd want to go in Scotland, there are walks you can go on. And there are other walking festivals throughout the year all over Scotland. Walking festivals! Who knew?

This walking thing. This is something I would actually get out of my flat and DO (as opposed to sitting in my flat and staring at the walls, which I have a distressing tendency to). Plus, since it's not exactly safe for me to go off walking about on my own, the idea of a walking festival or a walking club is great!

And this weekend, I did! Get out and about walking that is. Which makes this my inaugural Walkabout Scotland post. Let there be many more!

Edinburgh is in Midlothian so East Lothian is like the next county over. Practically my back yard!

Well, ok, not quite. I started my morning by catching a 7am bus, and it was a good hour+ bus ride to get to Haddington, where we were to meet the walk leader and sign the "in case of tragically falling off a cliff" form. I was early for a change, which gave me a good half hour to wander around the little town and discover that, although the butcher was open, heck if I could find a place to sell me a cup of tea. They were also setting up for a little farmer's market, and if I wasn't going to be walking for four hours, I would have been tempted.

Shortly after 9am, Dave, our walk leader, led his bunch of walkers (including me) to the bus, which took us over to East Linton and Preston Mill, our starting point. For the next four hours, we meandered our way through farmland following the River Tyne, along the estuary of the River Tyne to the coast, through John Muir Country Park, and finally along the coast to Dunbar. The path we followed was an 8-miles stretch of the John Muir Way.

Below are some pictures of the scenery along the way. It was a beautiful day! Dry, which is the most important thing, although the blue skies were muted by the mist, which didn't burn all the way off until mid-afternoon.

The start of our walk.

Preston Mill

In the distance is the village of East Linton and even farther away to the left is Traprain Law. People walk up there too. Maybe some other day.

Bridge we crossed over the River Tyne.

It looks like a nice innocent river now, but looks can be deceiving.

Just a pretty picture of the River Tyne.

Field we walked along.

And another.

And another.

Why look, another field.

Along the John Muir Way, nearing the estuary for the River Tyne.

Estuary of the River Tyne

Tank traps left from WWII.

John Muir Way along the River Tyne estuary.

Estuary of the River Tyne. You can see the river flowing through the salt marsh. This area is flooded during high tide.

Looking out over the estuary toward the sea.

Path along the estuary.

You can see the high-water mark left from high tide.

Nearing John Muir Country Park.

Unfurling ferns.

More tank traps!

Just a pretty picture with more unfurling ferns.

Through the woods in John Muir Park.

John Muir Park near Belhaven Bay.

Spike Island looking back over salt marsh.

Spike Island looking out over Belhaven Bay.

Belhaven Bay towards Dunbar.

Looking back over the salt marsh at Balhaven Bay.

John Muir Way nearing Dunbar.

Coast near Dunbar.

Cliffs near Dunbar.

And of course I can can never resist taking pictures of flowers.

And trees.

And what's a walk through the country without seeing some of the local fauna.

Sheep, of course.

Llama...soon to be a mamma llama?

A rare breed of water animal rarely seen in these parts.

I think I'll just stand here for a while.

Swans in Belhaven Bay

Kittiwakes...look closely

Pigeon in Dunbar

Yes, I was the annoying one on the walk, always stopping to take pictures of this or that, and then scrambling to catch up.

In case you can't tell, it was a fantastic day! About 1/2 way through when we were walking through the woods that are part of John Muir Park, I realized how badly I needed this break and to get out and see and explore. Trees especially seem to feed something essential in my soul.

Once in Dunbar, the bus was waiting to take the group back to Haddington. At this point, I broke off from the group. It was quicker for me to take the train from Dunbar straight back to Edinburgh. I had time to eat a tasty lunch in a cute cafe, and to walk down to see the small harbor, before catching the train.

Shop where I had lunch, a grilled veggie and hummus chiabatta with a slice of Victoria sponge cake for dessert. Yummm.

Dunbar Harbor with ruins of Dunbar Castle in the background.

As satisfying as the day was, my legs were very happy to be back home.

Trivia: So this John Muir guy who they named this trail after was born in Dunbar, but his family moved to the US when he was a kid. He grew up to found the Sierra Club, and helped to establish Yosemite National Park. Oh and Muir Woods near San Francisco -- named after John Muir. His birthplace in Dunbar is now a museum.