Friday, 12 January 2018


20 miles east of my house, just a half hour away, is the small coastal town of North Berwick. There is archaeological earthings around the town dating back some 2,000, but the first record of its current name, stated as Northberwyk, dates from 1250. The name Berwick translates as barley farmstead.

Many's a time I have visited the small town, and a few years ago I started off on my bicycle for a cross country ride following the John Muir Way, as North Berwick is the famous naturalists birthplace.

On the south edge of the town stand a small conical hill some 600ft high, called Berwick Law.

The hill is actually an ancient volcanic plug, blown there some 300 million years ago from a giant volcano that covered Edinburgh. The enormous Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh are part of that same volcano, they being the remnants of a lava tube. Slowly, the glaciers carved away everything inbetween, but somehow Berwick Law survived the erosion.

More astonishing to me was the despite its proximity, I had never been to the top. So during the Christmas and New Year holidays, it was a wee adventure for Pauline and myself as part of our list of things to do.

It is a very easy path up, though in places a mud bath due to its popularity. In no time you are atop its summit, and there, perched on its peak, are two bones from a whale jawbone. Well, fiberglass replicas actually. A jawbone has stood there since 1709, replaced several times over the years, but in June 2008 the most recent one was removed due to having rotted away. A donation was made to have the replica constructed so that North Berwick could have its famous landmark back.

As we stood taking the customary photographs, up above we heard an all too familiar call, as a skene of around 100 geese flew overhead. 

Summit ticked off we headed down its eastern flank into town and followed The Glen, a wooded glen with a small burn and home to broadleaf trees of Ash, Beech, Oak, Elm and Sycamore. There are three ruinous water mill buildings dating from the Middle Ages along the banks of the small burn, and we followed its dirt path and boardwalk down to the beach and the waters edge. From here we had a clear view across to Bass Rock, itself another volcanic plug of the same age as the Law. This one however stands 2km offshore and in the breeding season is home to the worlds largest colony of Gannets.

A wander along the beach brought us back to our start point and home, for what else, but coffee and cake.

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