West Barns – Belhaven – Dunbar

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This next walk takes in East Lothian’s best stretch of coastline – its not quite Cape Wrath, but its not a bad attempt at stirring the soul with rocky coves & rolling waves. It begins at West Barns village, the extreme northern end of the steadily swelling metropolis of the Dunbar conurbation.

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Park up in the vicinity of the local shop, across the main road from which is a road called SEA ROAD – which leads, uncoincidentally, to the coast. Take this.

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The road soon turns into a path which enters the John Muir Country Park & follows the Biel Water on its final riversprint to Belhaven Bay & the sea.

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You will soon come to a bridge over the water, which we will NOT be taking today. It does lead to a lovely romp over sands & waterways, but we’ll save that for another time. Daisy’s only two & a half, there’s plenty of legs left in her yet!

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Instead keep on the path as it curvy-curves south, opening up to a long straight section. As you proceed along it, you should be praising the seaflats to the left & the lovely swan-filled lake beside Meadowhead caravan park on the right.

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The path soon reaches the fringes of Belhaven village, veering left along the Surf Centre & the ‘Bridge to Nowheere’ which is sometimes the Bridge to Somewhere, tide dependant.

From the Surf Centre website

Just over a century ago, Sopwith Cuckoos from East Fortune used the sands at Belhaven during the second half of 1918 for early torpedo dropping trials. A Bessonneau hangar existed here to assist personnel present.  The hard, compacted sand of the broad beach was considered suitable for the landing of heavily-laden aeroplanes. Small huts were erected as workshops and servicing was undertaken in a canvas Bessoneaux hangar. Personnel travelled from their living accommodation at East Fortune. Nothing remains of the aerodrome. In the Second World War the beach was obstructed by vertical wooden poles to prevent German aeroplanes from landing.

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We have now entered the splendid, blustery, ‘gem’ of Winterfield golf course. Our path essentially follows its coastal edge; heading east then south, passing the kinda spooky clubhouse, a rather fiendishly difficult hole, before rising up to the mini Cape Wrath I mentioned at the start of this post.

Its now time for a weaving, vertigo-inducing mile or so to Dunbar. Stunning stuff really. Eventually you’ll come to the esplanade with its tall wall on the right.

At one point there’s a hole in the wall which leads to a level stretch of green common. If you’re felling weary, this is the place to rest. have a picnic or summat, then turn back the way you came. Going on to Dunbar & then all the way back to West Barns is quite a hike really, so be warned.

The Haar of Dunbar

So onto Dunbar then. One eventually comes to the first rooves & houses of the town, which leads to more windings & headlands & beaches, & its just all so very beautiful.

Turn left here

The final stretch of coastline takes you to the rear of the swimming pool, at which point you’re just about to burst onto Dunbar’s ever burgeoning high street. We’ll look at Dunbar another time, I’m contemplating doing town walks for 2021, so maybe next year. Until then, tho, all I can do is direct you to the shops & chippies on the high street, where there’s also buses which take you to back to West Barns for those who don’t fancy the trek back! These are the X7 106, the 253, the 130 & the 120 – timetables of which can be found here.

Remember the year of the Covid?
John Muir statue, Dunbar high street

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