Beyond the former coalfields of Dalkeith and Musselburgh, the fertile farmland of East Lothian stretches eastwards along the coast to the seaside resort of North Berwick and the fishing harbour of Dunbar. In the middle lies the prosperous market town of Haddington.
This ancient royal burgh is one of Scotland's oldest towns, though much of it 'only' dates from the 15th to 17th centuries. Its centre retains a certain charm, despite some ugly modern buildings and occasional traffic congestion, and the town makes an excellent day trip from Edinburgh. The tourist office is close to the palace entrance.
North Berwick & Around
North Berwick is an attractive Victorian seaside resort with long sandy beaches, three golf courses and a small harbour. The tourist office is two blocks inland from the harbour. Off High St, a short steep path climbs North Berwick Law (184m), a conical hill that dominates the town.
Queensferry is at the narrowest part of the Firth of Forth, where ferries have crossed to Fife from the earliest times. The village takes its name from Queen Margaret (1046–93), who gave pilgrims free passage across the firth on their way to St Andrews. Ferries continued to operate until 1964 when the graceful Forth Road Bridge was opened.
Dunbar was an important Scottish fortress town in the Middle Ages, but little remains of its past, save for the tottering ruins of Dunbar Castle overlooking the harbour. Today the town survives as a fishing port and seaside resort, famed in the USA as the birthplace of John Muir (1838–1914), pioneer conservationist and father of the US national park system.
The success of Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code and the subsequent Hollywood film has seen a flood of visitors descend on Scotland's most beautiful and enigmatic church: Rosslyn Chapel.
One of Scotland's finest stately homes, Hopetoun House has a superb location in lovely grounds beside the Firth of Forth.
Rising on the southern edge of Edinburgh, the Pentland Hills stretch 16 miles southwest to near Carnwath in Lanarkshire. The hills rise to 579m at their highest point and offer excellent, not-too-strenuous walking with great views. There are several access points along the A702 road on the southern side of the hills.
Known as the 'Iona of the East', the island of Inchcolm (meaning 'St Columba's Island') lies east of the Forth bridges, less than a mile off the coast of Fife. Only 800m long, it is home to the ruins of Inchcolm Abbey, one of Scotland's best-preserved medieval abbeys, founded by Augustinian priors in 1123.