ALLAN ROGERS EXPLORES SCOTLAND'S FIRST RESORT
Many visitors driving
to Scotland tend to head straight to Edinburgh then on up to the Highlands.
This is a pity because they miss out on what East Lothian has to offer.
It is a very good idea, once you have crossed the border from England, to be on the look out for the road that takes you towards the coast and passing Tantallon Castle dips down to the ancient town of North Berwick
Once there you will have access to miles of sandy bays and if you have the energy, you can walk barefoot on the shore to beyond Gullane and Aberlady bay.
The harbour is the focal point of the town. If you are there on a Saturday or a summer evening it will be alive with activity as the yachts and sailing boats from the East Lothian Yacht Club prepare for their races.
They make a colourful
sight as they battle round the buoys hoisting colourful spinnakers on courses
set out between the Bass Rock and Craigleith Island.
They are particularly impressive when the sun setting and the sea, towards Lamb and Fidra Islands, seems to become liquid gold.
you are tempted to get afloat one of the best boat experiences in Scotland
is a trip on the 41ft launch, "The Sula II"
This is run by the Marr family from the harbour. An excellent commentary is given as you either watch the, clown like, puffins glide swiftly over the waves with beaks full of small fish, or as the boat drifts close into the Bass Rock and you gaze into the soulful eyes of a seal.
Fred Marr who started
taking visitors out
back in 1961 retired last year on his 80th birthday.
He balanced his year round occupation as a lobster fisherman with boating summer visitors around the islands.
Throughout that time he was in daily contact with the three lighthouse keepers on the Bass, prior to it being automated in 1988, delivering their supplies.
His daughter Pat and son Chris continue to take visitors around the islands.
One of the newer attractions, and a great success story, is The Scottish Seabird Centre.
Their live webcams
on the Bass Rock, Isle of May and Fidra, make it possible to watch puffins,
gannets, shags, guillemots, razorbills and seals.
The number of birds is truly amazing and the Bass Rock appears as a spectacular seabird city populated with gannets, guillemots and shags,
A grant from ReDiscover, the science centre and museum renewal fund of £119,963 is to be used for the installation of two new state-of-the-art cameras - a live satellite camera link to St Kilda and an underwater version.
live satellite camera will link will enable you to pan and zoom the cameras
to see live close-ups of wildlife.
So close, in fact, that you will be able to read the numbers on the rings of birds' feet on St Kilda over 300 miles away!
The main entrance to the Scottish Seabird Centre is accessed from the Auld Kirk on the Anchor Green. During February 2000 while the new walkway was being constructed, skeletons dating back to 7th century. were uncovered
The area is steeped
are castles in abundance, the nearest ones is 3 miles away where the cliffs
are dominated by Tantallon
This formidable stronghold was the seat of the Douglas Earls of Angus, one of the most powerful baronial families in Scotland.
Tantallon dates back to late 14th century and endured frequent sieges. During Cromwell's invasion in 1651 it suffered heavy damage and its days as one of the country's mightiest castles came to a close.
Also of interest is
picturesque Dirleton Castle and garden, in the next village, or
you can take a 15 minute drive to the ruin of Hailes Castle.
This was one of the strongholds of James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, who married Mary Queen of Scots in 1567 after having been implicated in the murder of her second husband, Lord Darnley.RESTON MIL
You could also call in at East Linton and visit Preston Mill.
Be sure to take your
camera, the geese will pose obligingly on the pond and the conical roofed
kiln and red pantile roofs are really attractive.
The mill is located on the River Tyne which still drives the water-wheel. There has been a water mill there since 1599.
recent history is set in a World War 2 airfield frozen in time; nearby East
Fortune is the location for Scotland's National Museum of Flight.
With over 50 civilian, military and recreational aircraft, is recognised as the broadest aviation collection in the UK.
Visit the Museum and see these incredible flying machines close up. Its other claim to fame dates back to just after World War 1 when the airship, the R34 made the first transatlantic roundtrip flight in July 1919, flying from East Fortune, Scotland, to Newfoundland, Canada, back to New York, and returning to Pulham, England. It flew about 7,000 miles (11,200 kilometers) in 183 hours and 15 minutes.
At the museum you
will find around 50 complete aircraft, ranging from Britain's oldest surviving
aeroplane, Percy Pilcher's 'Hawk' glider of 1896 (1909), to modern passenger
airliners and supersonic jet fighters.
The aircraft collection has been developed since 1971 the collection is among the most comprehensive in the UK, including various military types, passenger aircraft, gliders, helicopters, microlights, trainers and prototypes.
The collection is international in scope with examples drawn from all over the world although special emphasis is placed on aeroplanes built or operated in Scotland.
A large market is held at East Fortune airfield each Sunday,
North Berwick sits at the foot of Berwick Law a small volcano shaped hill.
It is well worth following the path up to the summit 615 above sea level.
In the distance you will be to see Edinburgh Castle and the Forth Bridge; the Fife coastline and closer to hand the swathe of glorious beaches plus Tantallon Castle and the Lammermuir Hills.
North Berwick's history as a tourist resort goes back to the 19th Century and the coming of the railways
By the 1880s, the
express railway engines and plush carriages served the well-to-do, with travelling
time from London to Edinburgh reduced from 17 to 8 hours.
During this period the town advertised itself as the 'Biarritz of the North', with London's society figures flocking to the area.
By 1895, visitors were arriving at North Berwick on regular and special excursion trains.
Some well to do families who spent August and September in the town brought with them an entourage of housekeepers, butlers, footmen and nannies.
Day excursions also became popular and gave it a wider appeal. in the summer the 'Rose' a paddle steamer owned by the Galloway Saloon Steam Packet Company would bring day-trippers on a round trip from Leith to North Berwick, tying up at Galloway’s Pier on the Platcock Rocks, where passenger would board for Elie in Fife before returning to Leith.
Hailes Castle and
Tantallon Castle Web: http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
Historic Scotland. Tel: +44 (0)1620 892 727
The Scottish Seabird
Centre, The Harbour, North Berwick, EH39 4SS
tel: 01620 890 202