Wednesday, 5 February 2014


Just 15 miles east of the City of Edinburgh lies the small coastal village of Aberlady.  500 years ago this was an important port for the neighbouring town of Haddington but the village's origins go back a lot further to the 7th and 8th century.

As you leave the small picturesque village you have magnificent views across the Firth of Forth and the shallow beach that forms Aberlady Bay. In 1952 it became the first local wildlife reserve in the UK.  It was here, on a very wet and windy day, that Pauline and I ventured out for a day that had promised broken sunshine but had turned out to be anything but.

To our right was a well known links golf course adjacent to the next village of Gullane. Ahead the path snaked its way through open pasture, flanked occasionally by what I think are Sea Buckthorn bushes, ablaze with bright orange berries, a spectacular sight on this grey and wind blown day. The path then started to rise up large sand dunes, held together by clumps of coarse grass. As we reached the top a sandy beach opened up and stretched out before us.

We made the first footprints in the sand as we continued on our walk. The sea was pushing its way back in as the tide began its fast rise across the flats. Somewhere out there were several wrecks of fishing boats that had met their fate over the past 200 years, probably on a similar wild day.

The route we were on forms a small part of the John Muir Way. He is a world famous naturalist born locally in the town of Dunbar in 1838. Most notably he was the founding father of the National Parks in America, successfully petitioning Congress in 1890 to form Yosemite and Sequoia parks.  He left the UK as a young boy but we honoured him here in the UK by creating the 50mile coastal path in his name.

For lunch we found an overhang of rock and crouched under its natural shelter to escape the worst of the weather to feast on a flask of homemade soup and sandwiches.  All around us were the remains of millions of shells swept ashore by the rough seas, destined to one day form part of the sands of this coastal route.

As we sat enjoying our lunch, hunkered down from the elements, a group of walkers trudged by, led by a very wet looking gentleman who, judging by his faint mutterings, would rather be somewhere else.

We returned by the same route, invigorated by the winter storm, a little damp but definitely looking windswept and interesting.

No comments: