Day 275: Portobello to North Berwick

Distance: 23.58 miles

Ascent: 1132 feet

Weather: Overcast with Sunny Spells

Accommodation: Puffin’s Palace, North Berwick (Kindly Complimentary)


Yesterday for the first time on the entire walk I actually had a day off both physically and admin wise. I had a lovely chilled day in Edinburgh with Siobhan and Jamie. The only walk related stuff I did was head to Decathlon on the tram where they kindly exchanged the boots (that means I am now onto the fourth pair and the first three pairs lasted 5000 miles), in fact these boots weren’t completely on their last legs and I could have used them for several more weeks but I do not pass many Decathlons.

Jamie and Siobhan would be joining me for the first 10 miles or so. Unfortunately the first couple of miles were not the greatest following the promenade and paths alongside the busy road to Musselburgh. But then the road headed inland a bit and after crossing a footbridge we joined a track that followed the coast exactly.

At Prestonpans I had thought we would have to rejoin the road but there was a tidal concrete way in front of the houses which was a few inches above the water as this time of the tide. This made for fun if a little slippy walking but we all made it safely along. Prestonpans merged into Cockenzie and then we followed a path behind the beach to Longniddry. After walking to the bus stop I said goodbye to Jamie and Siobhan, who were heading back to London, and it had been great to see them.

For the 2nd time of the walk after people left (the last being when my brother, Emily and Arty left) I randomly felt incredibly lonely and could tell I was getting teary. I am not sure why (I have had many times when people have joined when it hasn’t happened), maybe it was just because I had had such a full on 3 or 4 days, with quite a few people joining and not really having any time to think. I knew within a couple of hours this would pass it just feels very strange at the time, and in fact I decided if I passed a café or similar in the next hour I would stop just to let me relax back down.

Just shy of Aberlady on the John Muir Way I passed a sign for the Gosford Bothy Café. I decided to allow me to calm down and get my focus back I would head in here. This was actually a good café and not expensive. Also a few people in the café knew about my walk because a lady I met on the west coast who had offered possible accommodation in North Berwick (where I was aiming for today) due to family health reasons could now not accommodate me but had kindly spread the walk through several local online groups. After having my panini the café kindly gave me a free cake before I set off again.

After Aberlady the John Muir Way heads inland, but I stuck to the coast crossing a timber footbridge and following a track towards Gullane Point. This section was lovely through the dunes. From the point I took a path down to Gullane Bay and then continued on faint tracks until I met the first of several very posh and seemingly new golf courses.

From here I had hoped to follow the coast to Broad Sands just shy of North Berwick but this turned out to be more complicated than expected. Firstly there was a deer fence that fortunately someone had obviously decided shouldn’t be here (or should have a way through) so had knocked one section down making it easy for me to start, but now I was fairly near (a few hundred meters away) a new group of massive posh houses which had built a big ‘deer’ fence with razor wire on top, I found a section without razor wire and climbed over and now seemed to be in some sort of new development with plots for sale alongside a very posh golf course. Fortunately the road here was easy to follow and only a few houses had been completed so far and there massive size and ostentatious style and the fact they are probably just holiday homes doesn’t sit well with me. Luckily at the end of the road there was a tiny track which took me onto the edge of another golf course (Archerfield Links I think). Though there were no fences getting on this end when I reached the other side there was a 2.5m high fence which would be hard to climb over. But I had no option so climbed over. Some golf courses and land owners make a mockery of the right to roam by putting high fences in and then not putting any access point in as they are meant to do.

Fortunately over this fence I rejoined the John Muir Way and was soon on the edge of North Berwick. I got an email at this point from John offering accommodation (up to this point I had assumed I would be pitching for my admin day at Tantallon Caravan Park who had kindly offered to let me pitch for free) so I called him and he said he would meet me at the Scottish Seabird Centre in 10 minutes.

North Berwick seems like a lovely place, actually one of my favourite towns I have seen in a longtime, and I met John and he drove me the short distance (about 200m) to his just vacated holiday let called Puffin Palace. This is a stunning flat, in a stunning location, with stunning views and John was unbelievably kind bringing me everything I could possibly need.

I did suddenly realise that by getting in the car I had missed 200m of coastline so when I headed to the shop to get food later I came back via the missed 200m to ensure I had actually walked that little section.

A day of 2 halves, walking with Jamie and Siobhan in the more urban areas in the morning, and then alone in more rural areas in the afternoon before the very kind offer of the flat.

charles compton