The 613-foot high volcanic plug of North Berwick Law is an eye-catching prospect along much of the Lothian and East Lothian coastlines and a climb onto its conical summit grants one of the finest panoramas in the region.
Words & photography: Keith Fergus
Formed by volcanic activity around 300 million years ago, North Berwick Law is also in sight of other dormant volcanoes such as Fife’s East and West Lomond, and Arthur’s Seat above Edinburgh. As it rises from the low-lying coastal landscape, North Berwick Law has, for many years, been used as a watch station, and the derelict buildings on the summit are relics from the Napoleonic Wars and the Second World War. A gentle climb through the busy streets of North Berwick leads to the base of North Berwick Law from where a short, but very steep, climb, along good paths, concludes at the exposed summit. The exertion required is very much worth the effort.
From North Berwick Seabird Centre walk south along Victoria Road onto Quality Street then swing right onto Kirk Ports passing The Lodge, which was built in the 18th century as a dower house and is now the oldest inhabited house in North Berwick. Sitting adjacent to The Lodge is Walltower House, built by Sir Hugh Dalrymple in 1747, and subsequently extended as a town house for his family, who were local landowners and a prominent family within the town.
Continue along Kirk Ports past the lovely remains of the Parish Kirk, which dates from 1664, and was constructed as the successor to the original North Berwick Parish Church. Turn left at Kirk View onto Law Road and follow this onto Haddington Road. Turn left at Lochbridge Road then right onto Wishart Avenue where a path is picked up. Follow this through a car park at the base of North Berwick Law then go through an opening in the wall beside a gate. Bear right where a path runs around the lower slopes of North Berwick Law.
At a signpost for North Berwick Law turn left and climb a steep path. It is a tough pull although it soon levels out. At this point take a stony path on the left, with steep ground again being covered, and some fine views beginning to open out. The path then bears right to climb steeply through craggy outcrops, passing the old watch-tower ruin, to gain the summit. The views are breathtaking with Bass Rock, Tantallon Castle, Craigleith and the Lamb being particular standouts. Also visible are Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat, the Pentland and Ochil Hills, and the big mountains of the Southern Highlands.
Retrace steps back through the car park at the base of North Berwick Law onto Haddington Road. Descend Law Road turning right onto St Baldred’s Road then left onto East Road. Walk back towards North Berwick town centre, turning right onto Quadrant then left onto Melbourne Road and walk above Milsey Bay back to the Seabird Centre.
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