Day 6. A day in North Berwick

Edinburgh is undoubtedly a beautiful city with so many interesting things to see and do but it’s also the perfect base from which to explore more of Scotland.  After days out by train earlier in the week to both Stirling and Glasgow we then decided to visit the picturesque seaside town of North Berwick which lies 22 miles east of the capital.

North Berwick Station
North Berwick Station

It couldn’t have been easier to reach the resort as it’s just a short 35 minute journey by train from Edinburgh Waverley with standard off peak day returns at £7.40.  ScotRail operate a frequent service and as North Berwick is the terminating station on the line there’s no problem with looking out for where to get off.

North Berwick high street
Along the high street

After experiencing some gloomy weather earlier in the week, we were greeted with clear blue skies and a light breeze.  The pretty station is just a few minutes walk from the town centre with the route clearly signposted.  I fell in love with North Berwick as soon as we reached its high street adorned with hanging baskets and lined with high class shops, galleries and cafes.

North Berwick's main street
Attractive shops and cafes along the high street

It made me wonder why we hadn’t visited previously on one of our many trips to Edinburgh and it’s easy to see why the town is such a popular day trip for locals.  The high street runs parallel to North Berwick bay but one street inland from it.

The Coastal Communities Museum, North Berwick
The Coastal Communities Museum

After spending awhile looking around the shops we called in to the Coastal Communities Museum located above the local library on School Street.  This interesting small museum is run by friendly volunteers and is free to enter.  Here we were able to learn about the history of the town, step inside an Edwardian beach hut and even light up the original Bass Rock lighthouse lamp.

Inside North Berwick Museum
Inside the museum

A temporary exhibition was taking place at the time of our visit featuring seaside postcards, some of which had never been on display before ranging from traditional seaside views to those of a more saucy nature.  Sending a postcard to friends and family was seen as an essential part of any holiday and usually included the message ‘Wish you were here’.  Sadly postcards are becoming a thing of the past with people now being able to take photos on their phones and send them to their friends almost instantaneously, I do hope they don’t die out as they are part of our heritage and finding a postcard on the doormat must surely still bring a smile to most people’s  faces.

The original Bass Rock lighthouse lamp, North Berwick
The original Bass Rock lighthouse lamp

On leaving the museum it was then just a short walk along to the seafront.  North Berwick has two beaches, the East Bay which we had just arrived at and the West Bay next to the golf course where we would be heading later.

The Bass Rock, North Berwick
The Bass Rock, North Berwick

Strolling along the promenade was very pleasant with views out to the famous Bass Rock jutting out from the Firth of Forth, a designated site of Special Scientific Interest and home to the world’s largest gannet colony.  The island is now a protected nature reserve with only the local Scottish Seabird Centre authorised to run boat trips to the rock.

The Law, North Berwick
The Law rising above the town

The lovely sandy beach is dotted with rock pools with a boating pond at one end where children can paddle and go boating when the tide isn’t too far in.  Rising behind the town is a grass covered conical volcanic hill rising 187m (613ft) above sea level.  It’s known as The Law and is rather like Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat.  We didn’t have time to climb to the top but I gather it’s a fairly easy 30 minute hike along a grassy track with a rocky scramble near the top.  Definitely something I want to do on my next visit to North Berwick.

The Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick
The Scottish Seabird Centre

Continuing our walk along the sea shore it wasn’t long before we had reached the Scottish Seabird Centre, a charity dedicated to researching and protecting the local wildlife of the North Berwick coast.  Live web-cams allow visitors to view the creatures in their natural habitats with boat trips running until September when the gannets leave for warmer lands.  The exhibition explains the numbers of different birds and marine mammals the islands off the North Berwick coast attract.  We discovered that puffins, razorbills and seals are also frequently sighted.

The Watcher, North Berwick
The life-size statue of The Watcher with me posing next to him

Befitting of a seaside town famed for birdwatching is a life size bronze statue of an outdoorsy man peering out to the Bass Rock through a pair of binoculars.  This artwork is entitled The Watcher and was created by Scottish sculptor Kenny Hunter.

St. Andrews Old Church, North Berwick
St. Andrews Old Church

Located behind this statue stands the tiny old church of St. Andrews (Auld Kirk).  This white washed stone building is so small because it’s entire east end was swept away into the sea in a violent storm in 1656.  What was left of the church soon deteriorated and all that remained was the porch.  On looking inside the porch there are several items on display that were unearthed during excavations.  These include part of a table gravestone and a section of a grave slab thought to mark a knight’s burial in the 1200’s.

Entrance arch to North Berwick harbour
Entrance arch to North Berwick harbour

Just a few steps from the church lies the entrance to the historic old harbour, through a steel arch known as the Gannet Gateway.  The arch features three northern gannets, one taking off, one in flight and the other diving down.

North Berwick harbour
North Berwick harbour

The small harbour is built into a rocky promontory between the town’s sandy bays.  The red stone harbour walls and surrounding warehouses have changed little over the years with the grain store now converted into apartments and other buildings used as offices.

West Bay, North Berwick
The West Bay from the harbour

We walked all around the harbour and it was breezy to say the least when we climbed the stone steps to the lookout point and the end of the harbour wall.  It was worth the effort though to be able to take in the views of the long stretch of beach forming the town’s West Bay.

Queues of people at the Lobster Shack, North Berwick
Queues of people at the Lobster Shack

Wandering back along the side of the harbour we noticed a long queue forming outside the Lobster Shack.  Serving up mussels straight from the boat to a half lobster and chips, this small inauspicious looking cafe appeared to be extremely popular in these parts with the long line of people waiting.

The Ship Inn, North Berwick
The Ship Inn

On our walk through the town earlier, we’d passed The Ship Inn which was also doing a good trade on its outdoor terrace so we decided to eat there instead.  We were met by friendly staff and enjoyed bar meals and glasses of the local Belhaven beer.

Quality Street, North Berwick
Quality Street, North Berwick

Interestingly, the pub is located on Quality Street and I’ve never before come across a real life Quality Street and only recognise the name from tins of chocolates that we always buy at Christmas.

North Berwick town centre
The pretty town centre

After our relaxing lunch we set off back towards the station along the seafront where we came to North Berwick Golf Club with its championship links which has hosted final qualifying rounds for The Open.  Standing close to the pathway that leads down to the sea beside the golf course is a life size wooden statue of Ben Sayers.  The plaque read that at only 5’3″ he was a giant among golf professionals counting members of British and European royalty amongst his pupils.  The statue looked so pretty framed with flowering poppies and summed up for us what a beautiful little town North Berwick is.

Statue of Ben Sayers at North Berwick Golf Course
Statue of Ben Sayers at North Berwick Golf Course

Whilst waiting on the station platform for our train back to Edinburgh we admired the imaginative and colourful planting of perennials in three small wooden trains, an old station porter’s wheelbarrow and a bicycle.  We’d loved our visit to North Berwick and will definitely be returning next time we are visiting Edinburgh.

 

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North Berwick, Scotland

 

60 thoughts on “Day 6. A day in North Berwick

  1. Pingback: Day 6. A day in North Berwick – MAD Production. Company.

  2. Not really heard of North Berwick before but it looks a fabulous place to visit. Had no idea it was so close to Edinburgh, what a great day out. Looks quaint and picturesque and full of character.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Loving your thorough approach to the region Marion. North Berwick is yet another place I’ve passed through but not taken the time to investigate. From the looks of your article this is yet another possibility for us if we have the time during our trip to Edinburgh and The Borders. Quality Street made me smile, someone absolutely has to open up a chocolate shop there. Always nice to see a new perspective of Bass Rock. Hope you have a good week ahead!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We would have liked to have taken a cruise around Bass Rock but although it was bright and sunny it was very gusty and the trips were temporarily suspended. A good excuse to return sometime though! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. It has managed to keep fine over the bank holiday but the heatwave never materialised!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, fantastic post and so many amazing photos from one of my favourite places just outside of Edinburgh, Marion. It’s actually amazing how much there is to see and do in North Berwick, Scottish Seabird Centre including. I am glad to hear you had clear skies and sunny weather for your day trip, it can make an enormous difference when heading out to the seaside. I would love to go back to North Berwick one day as I still haven’t been on one of their amazing cruises around the island of Craigleith and the Bass Rock. I’d say it would be amazing to capture the gannets diving off the Bass rock in search of food. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely day 🙂 Aiva xxx

    Liked by 3 people

  5. A stroll through the town center, as well as a bite at the Lobster Shack, would be a simple, but perfect afternoon in North Berwick for any visitor in Scotland. Thanks for another piece of your adventures in this northern country; can’t wait for more!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Just wow that’s really amazing. I loved your posts and they give energy to travel more and more without stopping. The mother earth has so many secrets and things to explore.
      Hope to see you in Morocco too, it has so many things to see and things to do. A colourful and variety of cultures, ways of living and transitional costumes.
      “Travelling it leaves you speechless, then turns you to a storyteller”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I also enjoy postcards. Even though it’s just a piece of paper, it’s nice to have a “piece” of the city or country your friends or relatives are visiting. Just the other day our friends who live in Holland sent us a postcard from Paris and it was a nice surprise to get an “old fashioned” piece of mail.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. What a beautiful town Marion! Love their High Street (and Quality Street – that’s a first for me as well 😉). Ahh, I just love postcards and still buy some when I get to a place that sells them (but only to keep in my memory boxes). And it’s such a beautiful beach … oh yes, I love the photo of you next to The Watcher.
    Lovely stroll through North Berwick – thanks!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. North Berwick is such a beautiful small town and with the sun shining it was even nicer. I also like to buy souvenir postcards too and I try to send one or two to elderly relatives and neighbours as I know they enjoy receiving them. Hope your weekend is going well Corna. It’s a public holiday here so we’ve got an extra day tomorrow. Marion

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Really enjoying your UK posts! I agree with you on postcards. Sad they’re no longer widely used. They’re becoming harder to find everywhere. At least in museums you can usually find postcards of some of the most important works of art in the collection.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It is such a shame that postcards are becoming a thing of the past. I also try to buy them in museums and galleries to remind me of my visit and then sometimes use them as bookmarks. Hope things are going well for you Sandra. Marion

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