Belhaven Beach is one of the best locations in Scotland to learn to surf. Coast to Coast Surf School are Scotland’s leading surf school and are based in a brand new surf centre a stone’s throw from the beach. With great equipment and super friendly and experienced instructors why not give it a go! Lessons for all levels and hires also available too. Ocean Vertical also offers a range of adventure activities across East Lothian. Also based in Dunbar, Ocean Vertical are a passionate team of adventurers specialising in paddle boarding, coasteering, surfing, climbing and mountaineering locally and across Scotland.
Cable wakeboarding uses overhead cables to pull the rider over the surface of the lake. It feels similar to surfing or snowboarding and is suitable for all abilities and ages 6+. It’s one of the most progressive board sports and we can guarantee you’ll get up on your beginner lesson – if you don’t you’ll get your money back! Each session is 15 minutes long and there are attractive packages to progress your wakeboarding with full instruction. There are many other activities at Foxlake for you to experience and an excellent cafe to recharge your batteries.
Relax while admiring Dunbar’s stunning sunsets at Belhaven, or paddle with seals around Dunbar’s Harbour! Whether it’s fun with the family or friends on giant SUP XLs or learning excellent technique and exploring on Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Boards the team at Coast to Coast are sure to give you a good time! Stand Up paddle lessons and tours are available right through the spring to autumn, all kit provided and experienced instructors. To find out more contact Coast to Coast Surf School! Ocean Vertical also offers a range of adventure activities across East Lothian. Also based in Dunbar, Ocean Vertical are a passionate team of adventurers specialising in paddle boarding, coasteering, surfing, climbing and mountaineering locally and across Scotland.
Explore the natural adventure zones around Dunbar, climbing/ bouldering, snorkelling and jumping. This activity is super fun, ideal for families and groups providing fun and challenges while immersing in the landscape that inspired John Muir! Open to adults and children (from 7yrs +) with all wetsuits and safety kit provided. To try coasteering get in touch with the experienced guides at Coast to Coast surf school! Ocean Vertical also offers a range of adventure activities across East Lothian. Also based in Dunbar, Ocean Vertical are a passionate team of adventurers specialising in paddle boarding, coasteering, surfing, climbing and mountaineering locally and across Scotland.
There are some great diving spots just outside the harbour with good shore diving and four small islands nearby worth exploring. If you have a boat there are some wrecks a little further offshore that are rewarding dive sites. For more information on these, visit the Dunbar Harbour Trust website or UK Dive Site. East Lothian Divers is based in Haddington and organises dives for members.
Skymonster, based in Edinburgh offers kitesurfing lessons across Scotland, including Belhaven Bay in Dunbar depending on wind conditions. Kitesurfing is an exhilarating and versatile sport and with expert tuition it is safe and fun for everyone, no matter your fitness level. From chilled freeriding to aerial jumps there are lots of ways to enjoy this sport. Skymonster offer a range of day courses and also have an excellent shop selling a range of SUP, kitesurf, wakeboard kit and accessories.
For sea kayakers the clear waters around Dunbar offer an opportunity to explore beautiful coastline with its harbours, caves, cliffs and sandy beaches, as well as abundant marine life. If you have your own kayak then access is easy from both Belhaven and East beach as well as in the Harbour. East from Dunbar there is dramatic coastal scenery with cliff faces, rock formations and caves to explore. To the west are more beaches and small islands, and if you are local then the Lothian Sea Kayak Club organise trips, kayak hire and training in the area for their members. Dun Eideann Sea Kayaking also organise guided trips along the East Lothian coast.
Foxfall is like no other ropes course in the UK; there’s no safety harnesses, just water! Foxfall consists of four runs, all of which will test your skill and balance. Complete the course with ziplines into the water. The course can be enjoyed by all abilities making it suitable for families, individuals, large groups and birthday parties. Finish off with a session on the Ringos and your group will be delighted. There are many other activities at Foxlake for you to experience and an excellent cafe to recharge your batteries.
Swimming in the North Sea is certainly invigorating and whether you are a keen wild swimmer or prefer a swimming pool, Dunbar has it all. From sheltered coves to the expansive Belhaven Bay and the hugely popular Dunbar Leisure Pool with its wave machine, flume and lane swimming there is no excuse not to put on swimwear (or wetsuit) and embrace the water. Dunbar once boasted an outdoor pool which sadly closed in the 1970s, you will find photos of this once glorious pool on the clifftop trail and in local businesses. Wild Dunbar, has been set up to create a network of outdoor swimmers based in Dunbar & the surrounding area.
Coastal Rowing in St Ayles skiffs is one of the fastest growing community activities/sports in Scotland. Dunbar Coastal Rowing Club have two skiffs The Volunteer and Black Agnes based at Dunbar Harbour, we are both a social and racing club. Members row along the Dunbar coastline regularly when conditions allow. The social side also includes events such as the annual row on the River Tweed, usually in September, and different ‘adventures’ throughout the summer. Previous adventures have including rowing both Forth Clyde and Caledonian Canals. We also compete in racing Regattas throughout the summer across Scotland and the North East of England.
Take a trip from Dunbar Harbour with Blue Wild, a family owned business that provides exclusive tours and private charters around the islands of the Firth of Forth and the Fife coast. Immerse yourself in the stunning East Lothian coastline and cruise in comfort to the Bass Rock, Isle of May and beyond.
On shore fishing around the Harbour is accessible and rewarding and if you don’t have equipment you can buy crab fishing lines from the RNLI shop at the Harbour and rods and other items from Pik n Choose on the High Street. For something a bit more adventurous there are two fishing boats which operate from spring to late autumn which can be chartered with all the equipment needed. For more information and contact details visit Dunbar Harbour Trust. It is also possible to launch your own boat.
Dunbar is both the perfect base for family and group cycles, and for more ambitious trips around East Lothian and the Lammermuir Hills. Most attractions are a short (flat!) cycle from the town centre and easily accessible. Dunbar is the gateway to the many cycling challenges of the Lammermuir hills – surprisingly steep climbs and almost immediate remoteness just outside the town. Whilst the John Muir Way offers a stunning 4 or 5 day cycle adventure, Sustrans and Visit East Lothian offer a number of shorter route suggestions. Bicycles – including ebikes – can be hired from Dunbar based Belhaven Bikes. There are also two local cycling groups, the Dunbar Community Cycling Club and Dunbar On Yer Bike that welcome new riders.
Please remember if you are bringing your bike by train it is advisable to book it on ahead of your visit.
**Currently closed due to storm damage** Fly from tree to tree, scramble your way over obstacles and blast down the big zips on all three zones at Foxtrail. There are dual courses which run alongside each other so that you can ride with family and friends thirty feet above the forest floor. Each session lasts up to two hours and includes all equipment hire and instruction. All participants must be 1.4m in height and at least 8 years old. Weight restrictions also apply. There are many other activities at Foxlake for you to experience and an excellent cafe to recharge your batteries.
Seacliff Stables, 9 miles from Dunbar offers wonderfully scenic rides on private land through the beautiful East Lothian countryside. This family run stables offer hour long rides with the most stunning scenery including views of Tantallon Castle and the Bass Rock. The stable is also located by Seacliff beach giving riders an opportunity to experience horse riding on this special secluded beach. There are horses to suit all abilities and for younger children 4 + years there are also half hour rides. Book early as rides can be very popular during the summer months
Situated in Lauderdale Park this community facility is open to all. This classic French game is great if you’re looking for a fun pastime, easy to learn and fun for people of all ages and skill levels and this facility is situated in a walled garden complete with adventure playground and cafe. Pétanque is a simple game to learn and can be played by all age groups, all abilities and all skill levels. If you have your own boules, you are very welcome to play for free at any time there is not an organised event. Boules can also be hired from the Wishing Tree By The Sea Café.
East Rock’s totally unique training environment in the woods at Foxlake is truly beautiful and through their CrossFit classes, Metcon classes, weightlifting and strongman programs you are sure to find your fitness. Their vision – a world in which everyone knows what they need mentally and physically, and has a place they can go to find it. Crossfit helps people find their safe place through an open and organic environment where they can express themselves physically, powerfully, and playfully. So that they understand what is truly important to them and the impact of their mental and physical health on those around them.
Golf has been played in Dunbar for over 400 years and the town is proudly part of Scotland’s Golf Coast. Dunbar has two excellent golf courses within the town and both have spectacular locations with expansive views of the North Sea. Dunbar Golf Club is an Open qualifying championship course which was established in 1856 whilst Winterfield Golf Club boasts stunning views of Belhaven Bay and the Bass Rock.
If golf is above your usual standard and the nine hole crazy golf course at East Links Family Park a little too challenging then putting on Winterfield Park, a short walk from the High Street, might just be the answer. Located by the cliffs with stunning views this short course is a gentle but fun way to pass an hour.
Visit Foxlake and have a go at Segway, the experience lasts for 20 minutes, the session includes a safety briefing and orientation followed by an off-road trek on some of East Lothian’s most scenic trail routes. All our sessions are led by qualified and experienced staff and are guaranteed to have everyone leaving with big smiles. There are many other activities at Foxlake for you to experience and an excellent cafe to recharge your batteries.
John Muir Alpacas offers daily alpaca treks, kids mornings and alpaca picnics! Based on a beautiful section of wild and windswept coastline with breathtaking scenery from the giant teepee tents, alongside these amazing animals. Originally raised for their exquisite fleece the alpacas are at their happiest when trekking along John Muir Way in the company of some friendly humans. As well as trekking, the venue offers teepee tents, complete with fire pits – a magical space for private hire, for farm weddings, kids birthday parties and corporate events.
Disc golf is played like traditional golf however instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc, or Frisbee®. The sport has been played since the 1970’s and is similar to traditional golf with 18 “holes” and the objective is to complete each hole in the fewest number of throws. There is a tee and as a player progresses down the fairway, he or she must make each consecutive shot from the spot where the previous throw has landed. Disc golf can be played from school age to old age and because it is so easy to learn, no one is excluded and it’s fun for the whole family.
East of Scotland Microlights, less than 20 minutes from Dunbar, is Scotland’s longest-established and largest microlight flying school. They offer a range of air experience flights with an instructor where you’ll experience the thrill of open-cockpit flying combined with the chance to see beautiful East Lothian from a completely different perspective. You’ll see the miles of sandy beaches, fly over the largest island gannet colony in the world (Bass Rock) and be in the safe hands of their highly professional and experienced instructors. You’ll have the chance to fly the aircraft if you wish, or just sit back, relax and enjoy the incredible views!
East Lothian is a rewarding location for bird watching with a rich diversity of habitats to suit all birders. From within the town there are opportunities to spot a large number of sea birds including noisy Kittiwakes nesting on the castle walls, diving gannets and cormorants, wings outstretched. More experienced birders will find there are excellent locations at Tyninghame and Belhaven Bays and further east at Skateraw, Barns Ness and Thorntonloch. Inland visit the Whiteadder reservoir and Lammermuir hills. A little further away visit St Abb’s Head for a spectacular cliff walk or North Berwick’s Seabird centre is an educational hub.
Visitors have been coming to Dunbar for centuries to enjoy the therapeutic qualities of the sea air and water. Nowadays all that remains of the spa is a small monument beside Belhaven Beach. However, visitors and locals alike can still relax and indulge their wellbeing with yoga and pilates classes throughout the town. There are often yoga classes on the beach, woods, or park and even on a SUP (Stand Up Paddle board). Pop into Core on the High Street for a full range of classes and the latest on other programmes.
If the weather is against you or if you wish to keep up a gym regime there are plenty of other options. Try crossfit in the beautiful setting of Foxlake woods for a change, join a yoga or pilates class or there are a number of fitness classes and a gym at the Dunbar Leisure Pool. There is also a running club based at Hallhill Sports Centre, a weekly Parkrun at Lochend Woods and a 10K race through the town that usually takes place on the first Saturday in April each year. For more club sport Dunbar has a large number of sports club so there is something for everyone
Dunbar Community Tennis Centre has six outdoor tennis courts at Winterfield park, a 5 minute walk from the High Street. Visitors are very welcome and can pay and play using the honesty box, prices are detailed at the clubhouse. There is no equipment hire, so if you need to buy racquets and balls please go to Bowe Sports shop on the High Street.
The Ronnie Dale 4 x 4 Quad Bike Centre is situated only 20 minutes from Dunbar, 5 miles from Cockburnspath by Abbey St Bathans, in the heart of the Lammermuir Hills. The activities are based within the 500 acre farm. Adults and children can enjoy family one hour quad bike sessions where they spend time getting used to the handling of the bike, no experience is necessary. They then head off on a quad bike trek with a leader in front over the farm area, home to sheep and cattle. For those with a full driving licence we offer a three hour 4 x 4 driving experience, you do the driving at all times.
Dunbar is well known for its strong community and this is reflected in its thriving clubs. Many of the local sports clubs are based at the Hallhill Sports Centre which has impressive outdoor facilities and provides a hub for most of Dunbar’s team sports. Throughout the town in the schools, church halls, hotels and community facilities there are a diverse range of other clubs offering activities to suit a wide range of interests from drama and music to film and boardgames.
“When I was a boy in Scotland I was fond of everything that was wild, and all my life I’ve been growing fonder and fonder of wild places and wild creatures”. John Muir
Explore the area that inspired John Muir as a boy either on your own or with the East Lothian countryside ranger service which runs wildlife experiences and activities for all ages throughout the year. Discover the natural world around Dunbar with expert guidance through short informative walks to day long wildlife tours. Programme information is also widely available on noticeboards throughout the town. Note that dogs are not permitted at some of these events.
East Links Family Park is a 20 acre farm-themed adventure park providing a fun day out for all the family. The train safari takes visitors through the paddocks of friendly farm animals and in the small animals barn visitors can get up close to rabbits, guinea pigs and chicks. There is endless fun for all ages including a hay barn, giant Fortress, ball blast arena and crazy golf course. An on site cafe completes the visit and everyone goes home with a huge smile on their faces.
When the tide goes out on East Beach there is a wonderful natural experience in the little pools left behind amongst the rocks. The rocks can be sharp and slippery so take care but there is an abundance of life in each of them. Spot little fish and prawns, crabs and different seaweeds. With a net and bucket you can explore your finds a little closer but always remember to place them back carefully. Buckets, nets and guides are available in some High Street shops and information also available online and remember to check the tide times.
Children will enjoy exploring Dunbar following this murder mystery treasure trail which is an interesting and imaginative way to explore the town. It is an easy to follow self guided route with clues to solve along the way. The trail is also suitable for groups so that you can work as a team and are great for seeing Dunbar from a different perspective.
The harbours are a brilliant place to visit with children. The ruins of Dunbar Castle lie at the entrance of the newer Victoria Harbour but don’t miss the old Cromwell Harbour, the two are connected by a lifting bridge. Children will delight in spotting the visiting seals, looking out for dolphins, inspecting the fleet of fishing boats and catching a glimpse of the Lifeboat when she visits. The recently redeveloped Battery theatre space offers great views across the Forth and it and the McArthur’s Store often hosts events. There is a coffee van and seafood on sale at the harbour and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings enjoy freshly cooked pizza from the Big Blue van.
Softspott is a new exciting new softplay for kids aged 3 -10. Let your little ones run around in our main play area or have a race down our 4 lane wave slide. It is also good to know that the toddlers will not get pestered by the the bigger kids with our separate toddler area. And activities available on time of visit. Our sensory room (bookings only) is a private room away from the noise for someone who needs a little time on their own. Bookable spaces for celebrations party’s, groups and activities. Check out our café where our staff are dedicated to serving quality coffee and simple wholesome food and home baking.
Also one for adults! From behind the crash barriers it is a huge thrill to watch motorbike racing at the track at East Fortune, about 9 miles from Dunbar. The noise of the engines and the incredible skill of the riders makes this a great outing for petrol heads and those curious to see this sport up close. Melville Motor Club runs a number of events at East Fortune through the summer and there is also Berwick Speedway on Saturday nights from March to October.
Dunbar boasts a good number of playparks throughout the town. Just off the High Street within the beautiful walled garden setting of Lauderdale Park is an excellent park with a lovely cafe in the old bowling green clubhouse. Other parks with facilities are at Bleachingfield and Hallhill not far from the town centre. The little play park by East Beach also affords rockpooling and paddling opportunities. Just outside the town there is also an adventure play area at the John Muir Park.
Muddy Buddies is an outdoor playgroup in Lochend woods, Kellie Road for pre-school children and their parents/carers. The group meets every week and sessions include a mud kitchen, crafting, storytelling, songs, tree climbing, nature exploration, bush-craft skills, open fire cooking, and free play. Muddy Buddies has a child-led, risky play ethos and everybody is encouraged to feel at home in the woodland. The group is as much for the adults as the children, with a chance to enjoy a cuppa with the group and relax! Drop-in sessions run on Mondays and Wednesdays 10:30 – 14:00
Dunbar is a great place to fly a kite as it benefits from good sea breezes which create the perfect conditions for kite flying. Belhaven Beach and Winterfield Park are great open areas ideal for kites and if you are lucky in the summer you might just catch a sight of a professional display. If you don’t have a kite then you can buy one from shops on the High Street.
There are always activities organised for kids in Dunbar throughout the year. These have included t – shirt printing with local artists (at the Inprint Workshop), puppetry, Lego workshops, music programmes and cookery classes. Many of these take place at the Bleachingfield Community Centre, a few minutes walk from the High Street. The High Street Craft Centre and The Makery also offer creative workshops. These are all well publicised throughout the town. East beach is also perfect for sandcastle building and beach art using what’s around you and your imagination.
Discover how the boy born in this house became one of the driving forces behind the modern conservation movement. The exterior of the Museum has been restored to its original condition. Inside, you’ll find a warm welcome with friendly, well informed staff always available to answer questions. The absorbing hands on interpretation centre will take you on the journey of John Muir’s life as a pioneering conservationist, explorer, writer, geologist and inventor. The building is fully accessible with three floors of family friendly interactive displays complemented by a lively exhibition and events programme and a shop offering books and gifts for all ages.
With its distinctive witch’s hat tower and its bell, clock and sun dials the Town House has been the focus of town life since the 16th century. Staff here are always on hand to chat about the town and the history of the building. You can visit the council chamber – scene of the infamous witch trials – and a grimly atmospheric jail cell. The building is accessible on all levels and is home to a museum and gallery with changing historical and art exhibitions as well as a local history display area and research room managed by Dunbar and District History Society.
The ruins of Dunbar Castle stand proudly above the Harbour entrance, there is no access to the ruins but with imagination it is easy to appreciate that it was once one of the strongest fortresses in Scotland. Dunbar has three harbours, dating from the 17th century, and the town was once a major herring and whaling port. The harbours are always busy with a fleet of fishing boats, a sailing club and other activities including divers, coastal rowers, kayaks and stand up paddle boats regularly making use of its facilities. Look out for the RNLI lifeboat, visiting seals and drop into the RNLI shop; there are also food vans and regular events including the town’s busy Lifeboat Day in mid July.
Founded 300 years ago in 1719, Belhaven is Scotland’s oldest working brewery and produces Scotland’s best-selling ale, Belhaven Best. Just a stone’s throw from beautiful Belhaven Bay on the outskirts of Dunbar, the Brewery is a fascinating blend of old and new and produces a wide range of award-winning beers including Scotland’s Beer of the Year 2018, Twisted Grapefruit IPA. The brewery offers tours where visitors to see the beers being made and taste the delicious results in our beautiful bar.
Available from local shops this excellent little publication, A Walk Around Historic Dunbar is published by the Dunbar and District History Society. The walk should take between 1.5 and 2 hours and provides both a comprehensive history of the town and a really fascinating walk which starts and ends on the High Street. It was first published in 1970 to commemorate Dunbar’s six hundred years as a Burgh. In the summer guided tours take place regularly (book via the link below) and the tour will also soon be available in app form on the Curious Edinburgh platform.
Seconds off Dunbar High Street, down Garden Lane, is the beautiful Backlands community garden run by The Ridge, a charity that provides life and employment skills. Since 2012 it has been transformed from a rubbish-strewn eyesore to a calming, productive space run by charity staff and volunteers. Fully accessible, it functions as a market garden, training ground, event space, living history, outdoor cooking classroom and occasional pop-up restaurant. Regular events run on-site, advertised on the charity’s Facebook pages. A particular focus is the rebuilding of the Black Bull Close buildings: a range of workshops exploring their heritage and history are organised throughout the year.
Alongside the harbour this fortified artillery Battery is an open air attraction which has been recently renovated and now hosts a performance space, coastal garden and an interpretation hub which tells the history of the site from its origins to now. Built as a Napoleonic shore battery on Lamer Island it was latterly a hospital before falling into disrepair. The panoramic views from here extend across the Forth, with the iconic Bass Rock and Isle of May in view as well as romantic lighthouses along the coast.
Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at an operational nuclear power station? Torness power station has a purpose-built visitor centre where you can explore how electricity is created in the exhibition space and take a free tour of the facilities. Tours are free and cater for groups and individuals but need to be booked in advance. You can also visit the bespoke visitor centre at Viridor‘s Energy Recovery Facility just outside the town. Here visitors will learn about sustainable waste management and how energy recovery fits into the waste hierarchy.
Dunbar has a busy contemporary and traditional music scene, producing many bands and artists that have a local, national and international profile. It hosts a long running traditional music festival during the last full week-end in September each year and a well respected outdoor pipe band competition each May. The new Battery venue by the Dunbar harbour has quickly become a popular outdoor music venue. Musicians often play at gigs and open mic nights in the local bars and the Dunbar Music School offers a wide range of classes and workshops.
Dunbar has a vibrant arts scene with events happening throughout the year, including the European stone stacking championships, a programme of exhibitions at Dunbar Town House gallery and museum and North Light Arts programme. The High Street is a great place to browse with the Found Gallery, Coast Gallery, Flux, the Dunbar Craft Studio and the Makery where you can customise cards and prints. Seams Sew on the High Street runs fun sewing workshops for kids and adults as well as the Dunbar Fashion School that also runs courses. There are studios and an exhibition space at West Barns Studios and an annual street art trail.
This beautiful five metre high steel bear sculpted by Scottish artist Andy Scott is a fitting tribute to John Muir, the American naturalist who was born in the town. The sculptor said, “I am delighted to have been commissioned to bring this large steel creation to Dunbar. I wanted to honour John Muir in an unusual and striking fashion. As he’s been commemorated in bronze in the town, I felt a sculpture celebrating one of America’s most dramatic creatures would be a fitting tribute to the great man”. For more information visit John Muir’s birthplace on the High Street or perhaps walk some (or all) of the John Muir Way which follows his footsteps to Helensburgh on the west coast.
One of Scotland’s Great Trails, the John Muir Way offers walkers and cyclists a unique journey through Scotland’s landscapes, history and heritage. Going coast to coast in 134 miles, it links Helensburgh in the west with Dunbar in the east. The route symbolically passes through Scotland’s own first national park and offers a chance to connect with nature – just as Muir did here as a boy – taking advantage of the green spaces, beaches and woodlands that link our coasts, villages, and even the capital city.
This walk from the town centre will take around an hour and a half and follows a path along the coast towards Belhaven Bay with views to the Bass Rock. It passes curious rock formations, the site of the old outdoor pool and Winterfield Golf Club. The trail is also part of the John Muir Way so even if you can’t manage the full 134 miles you can experience some of its beauty. For a longer walk you can continue further along the John Muir Way stopping at either Foxlake or East Links Family Park for refreshments before heading back.
This 28 mile Heritage Path starts in Dunbar and dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries when people carried salted herring from Dunbar to the markets in Lauder for winter food. It is hard to imagine the huge weights of these baskets and it is no wonder that the trails fell out of use as railways provided an easier and cost effective alternative form of transport. The Creel Loaders statue at the junction of Victoria Street and Castle Gate commemorates Dunbar’s fishing heritage.
Nothing beats a beach walk and just off the High Street there is a pleasant short walk along East Beach to Dunbar Golf Club but on a much larger scale the spectacular Belhaven Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in East Lothian. Famous also for the Bridge to Nowhere Belhaven beach is also the location for many sea based activities. From Belhaven there is a good 5.5 mile walk to the restored Preston Mill in East Linton. Close to Dunbar are a number of other stunning beach walks including Tyninghame, Ravensheugh, Thorntonloch, Redheughs and Bilsdean. The beautiful locations of Cove, Pease and Coldingham bays are also highly recommended trips.
Just outside Dunbar by East Links Family Park is the John Muir Country Park which is a wonderful walk on sandy trails through wood and grassland. Part of the John Muir Way this walk can be enjoyed on its own or part of a longer walk from the town centre across Belhaven Bay, although check the tides before approaching the “Bridge to Nowhere”. There is an adventure playpark and toilets at the entrance and please remember to bring change for the car park
East Lothian’s coastline is rich in geological features including sandstone and limestone layers. There are eye-catching hills, headlands and islands made of volcanic rocks. Near Dunbar, the Barns Ness Geology Trail has fossils formed 350 million years ago in a shallow sea near the Equator. You can visit one of the world’s most important geological sites, Hutton’s Unconformity at Siccar Point near Cockburnspath. During the 18th century James Hutton, father of modern geology, discovered Siccar Point and used it to illustrate his ‘Theory of the Earth’ and evidence of processes of erosion, deposition and uplift.
If history and archeology peak your interest then East Lothian offers a fascinating variety of attractions, all accessible from Dunbar. Beautiful walks take visitors past the ruins of stunning cliff top castles including Tantallon, Fast Castles and the 2nd century Edin’s Hall Broch. Hailes, Innerwick, Barns and Tower Castles are also within easy reach. Being so close to the English border means that this land was once battle-torn from centuries long strife and there are atmospheric battle grounds just outside the town. Other local sites to visit include the Doon Hill Dark Age Settlement, Dunglass Collegiate Church, Preston Mill and for the more curious Yester’s Goblin Ha’ is fascinating. East Lothian Archaeology & Local History Fortnight takes place in September each year.
There are a number of walking guides to East Lothian that detail routes around the countryside of Dunbar but the small publication Walks: East Lothian highlights a good number within easy reach of the town. Some to recommend are the walk around the charming village of Spott (look out for the witches stone), the Hope Reservoir and Aitkengall Wind Farm beyond Innerwick. For a hill walk aim for Deuchrie Dod, Traprain Law and there are longer walks in the Lammermuir Hills to the south of Dunbar. From Cove Harbour there is a 4.5 mile circular walk that is also highly recommended. For the truly determined the magical Fairy Glen near Innerwick is an off path adventure as well as seeking out the mythical Whittinghame Yew.
Anywhere can be a wildlife walk but three suggestions easily reached from Dunbar are Pressmennan Wood, Woodhall Dean and Pease Dean Wildlife Reserve managed by the Woodland Trust and Scottish Wildlife Trust respectively. (The 214 mile Southern Upland Way also passes through the Pease Dean reserve). There are marked trails around both walks and an abundance of wildlife to look out for. Both organisations manage a number of other walks in the area. If you need a little help exploring why not join a nature tour or take part in one of East Lothian Council Countryside Ranger Service events.