D2: PRESTONPANS – NORTH BERWICK
19th April 2018
Today miles: 19.4 Total miles: 43.0
It’s been almost a month now since I started to walk the coastal path and today I’m back on the track. It’s a blue sky day and I was looking forwards to walking. Fortunately both ends of today’s walk are situated on the East coast train line and easy to move between. It was a fairly late start by the time I had worked my way to Prestonpans station going via Edinburgh Waverley. It was almost midday by the time I started walking. As I stepped off the train I just caught the sombre words of the driver as he announced on his PA system that the train service was cancelled due to an incident near Drem station. A few minutes after leaving the train I was walking along the coast towards Cockenzie and Port Seton on the John Muir Way. Both these small villages previously had a reputation for the provision of coal and contributing to the energy supply industry, now however like lots of coastal villages they rely mainly on tourist. On approach into Cockenzie I saw another erected sculpture, this one a tribute to the villages coal industry heritage. Apparently the set of 6 grinding balls and the grinding ring have significance to the coal industry, I swear I’ve seen something similar in the Anne Summers store in Newcastle.
Further along the coast I could see a man collecting several washed up planks of wood from the beach. I managed to catch him up and he informed me that a large ship had shed its load of timber into the sea near South Shields a few weeks earlier. The ship ‘The Frisian Lady’ got into difficult weather 130 miles off the coastline and lost its load of thousands of tons of brand new timber. It’s now spread out across the beaches from the Firth of Forth to Berwick-Upon-Tweed. I need some wood to build a new shed in the garden but according to the law taking this salvaged wood is illegal and I can’t just help myself. Just after Gosford Bay I left the John Muir Way and stuck to the beach for a short while before then moving onto the Kilspindie golf course. At Aberlady I took a lengthy break looking out towards the bay and Gullane Links. I’ve lost count of the number of golf courses I’ve had to walk across so far. The course at Gullane is in a stunningly beautiful location, especially on a day like today and the golfers were now taking full advantage.. As I looked further along the coastline I could see in the distance a rounded hill which clearly stood out in the flat surroundings. It was North Berwick Law, it’s only 187 mts above sea level but stands out amongst the flatness and it seems like a long way off. I crossed the wooden footbridge which led me into Aberlady Bay nature reserve. The first nature reserve in the UK and highly renowned as a quality bird watching venue, if that’s your thing. It ain’t my thing so I didn’t hang around but carried on to the beach at Gullane Point. A little further on at Gullane Bents I spotted an ice cream van and bought myself a Mr Whippee and a bottle of ice-cold water, neither lasted long in this weather. The initial path towards North Berwick was excellent but eventually the track through the dunes ran out and I just had to make out my own route, trying to avoid too much up and down. The going was tough as the sand was soft and difficult to walk through at any decent pace.
Things got particularly interesting when I reached an area known as Archerfield. The views were still spectacular especially out towards the small island of Fidra. My problems started when I came across several enormous houses/mansions which were not shown on my map. The gardens were immaculately tendered and I was stood wondering how to proceed from here. I decided I wanted to go forwards close to the coastline and this meant plodding through somebody’s garden, front and back. I knocked at the door worried that the owner would be irritated by my intentions. I didn’t need to worry, the woman who answered the door found it strange and funny, she immediately allowed me to cut through her garden. An hour later I was back on the John Muir Way and entering North Berwick. An amazingly warm day, I popped into a local pub and bought myself a lager shandy before heading back home, fully refreshed.