Things to do in North Berwick

North Berwick is a beautiful Scottish seaside town, filled with history and character. From exploring the local wildlife and nature spots, to its High Street filled with local businesses, there are plenty things to do in North Berwick.

If you’ve seen my instagram, you’ll know I love a visit to North Berwick. James’s family loved and now live in North Berwick, and it has fast become a place I associate with spending time with James. This summer in particular, we had lots of adventures in North Berwick to make up for a year of long distance.

I thought it was time to fill this post with places to visit and things to do in North Berwick, and I promise to keep this updated as I explore more.

Image of Bass Rock from North Berwick

Things to do in North Berwick

The Beaches

As a coastal town, it comes as no surprise that North Berwick has stunning beaches. In fact, it has two bays with beautiful sandy beaches that you can walk along. From each of the beaches you will get views of Bass Rock, where the world’s largest colony of Gannets live, The Lamb and Craigleith Rock.

North Berwick has two beaches (split by the harbour). On one side is East Sands, where the sand extends along the coast, and there’s a rock cut swimming pool at the shore. Along the other side is West Bay, a little rockier and where you’ll see more boats moored. If you fancy a long walk, you can follow this beach out to Yellowcraigs beach (where there are parking and toilet facilities).

Scottish Seabird Centre

The Scottish Seabird Centre is an interesting spot to visit, right at the harbour. The Scottish Seabird Centre is a conservation and education charity, which teaches you about the sealife around North Berwick in their discovery centre – and you can spot different birds with their wildlife cameras!

Explore the Scottish Seabird Centre here!

Boat Trip to Bass Rock

Sir David Attenborough described Bass Rock as “one of the wildlife wonders of the world”. Home to the worlds largest colony of Gannets, Bass Rock is a truly incredible site, sat in the Firth of Forth. It’s influenced many artists and writers over the years, with its intriguing history – being used as a prison by James I in the 15th century. It was also used by early Christian hermits, was fortified by the Lauders with a Castle and a Chapel, and now has an (unmanned) lighthouse which shines light on the bay.

The Scottish Seabird Centre run boat trips out to the islands of Bass Rock, Craigleith and the Lamb. You can book onto high speed boats or catamarans, and trips last around an hour. Guides take you around the island (s) of your choice, giving you the chance to spot the famous gannets diving into the water in front of you boat, puffins swimming around, or seals basking on the rocks.

Book a trip here (but be warned – you will likely get wet!)

Find out how to ride the Strathspey Steam Train in this post!

North Berwick Harbour

As it’s a coastal town, North Berwick also has a beautiful wee harbour. The harbour separates East Sands and West Bay. You can walk around the harbour to see all the boats, or follow the edge which juts out into the sea, and you can get a closer look at some of the selife, including a puffin that enjoys being near the harbour. This is also the place where you will find the Scottish Seabird Centre and The Lobster Hatchery. There are also some wee food and drink trucks along the edge, for a bite to eat or a drink to warm up!

The Firth of Forth The Lobster Hatchery

The Lobster Hatchery was developed by three local lobster enthusiasts, and together they have created a place which teaches visitors about their project to create sustainable lobster fishing in the Firth of Forth. In the shipping container at the harbour of North Berwick, you’ll learn about lobsters and see them hatching and growing before they are released into the Firth!

Lobsters in the Lobster Hatchery, Things to do in North Berwick

Find out more about the project here

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The Law

North Berwick Law is a hill, popular for visitors because it gives a great view over the city, and its a pretty gentle climb. The hill was once used as an Iron Age Hillfort, but on your trip up, you’re more likely to spot the old military defences used in the Napoleonic Wars and WWII.

At the top of the hill, you’ll find a whales jawbone. This is an iconic landmark of North Berwick, and one you’ll find on photos and postcards. From 1709 – 2005, this was a real jawbone (replaced a few times over the years). In 2008, a jawbone made out of fibreglass was erected at the spot.

North Berwick Glen

If you’re looking for a bit of woodland, The Glen is the perfect place for some peace and quiet surrounded by the trees. There are paths through The Glen, and plenty of spots for kids to explore and play on the rope swings. There are also some great look out spots over the town, and information panels about North Berwick’s volcanic history.

North Berwick High Street

North Berwick has an adorable high street, filled with shops, cafes and restaurants that are all worth checking out. The independent shops along the high street are filled with gorgeous products, many of which are by Scottish designers and showcase the character of North Berwick.

Explore Edinburgh’s historic High Street – The Royal Mile

Tantallon Castle

The impressive castle ruins of Tantallon Castle sits on the coast, just a short walk from North Berwick. Tantallon Castle was built in the 1300s, and was site of a complicated history between the Red and Black Douglases, before it was besieged and abandoned.

To learn more about the history of the castle and what visiting it is like, have a look at this post already on The Heritage Tourist – Tantallon Castle – or if you’re on Instagram, check out this reel I popped together!

Read about my visit to the beautiful ruins of Tantallon Castle

Golfing

North Berwick is a great place for the golfers, with courses over looking the Firth of Forth and Bass Rock.

The North Berwick golf club was founded in 1832, and established West Links as a Champion links course – West Links has hosted the Final Qualifying for The Open! To find out more about golf with The North Berwick Golf Club, click here.

At the other side of North Berwick is The Glen, East Links. The East Links course was designed by five times Open Champion, James Braid, with Ben Sayers. To find out more about golf with The Glen, East Links, click here.

Where To Eat in North Berwick

Herringbone

I’ve visited Herringbone on almost every visit to North Berwick. Situated on North Berwick high street, Herringbone is a perfect place for a lunch or dinner. The menu has plenty of options – my favourites include the Mushrooms on Toast starter, any of their burgers (I must’ve tried them all by now), and their chocolate fondant. To go along with the great food is an impressive choice of cocktails, inspired by local places and flavours!

Have a look at my reel from one of my visits over summer on my instagram!

Steampunk

Steampunk is a great wee spot just off of the highstreet, with the local churchyard just across the road. This cafe is filled with home bakes galore – I think the salted caramel brownie is the best brownie I have ever eaten in my life. They also have a great selection of hot drinks – I’d recommend trying the hot apple juice!

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Drift

Drift is located just outside of North Berwick, at Canty Bay. If you fancy a bit of a walk, you can follow the beach along or the main road, and many people like to cycle to Drift. Drift is housed in a shipping container, with a massive window giving stunning views across to Bass Rock. There’s also a handy take away trailer and outdoor seating for a fine day. The Drift roll is a must, as are their home bakes!

Check out my reel from my walk and visit to Drift on Instagram!

Bostock Bakery

Bostock is a bakery right on the high street, and one not to be missed. Their home bakes are incredible – we must’ve taste almost all they have to offer, but their cookies and their jam or custard filled donuts stand out. They also serve up loafs of bread, and their sour dough is top notch.

Alandas

Ice-cream is for any weather, so no matter the time of the year that you visit, a trip to Alandas is a must. Alandas has recently opened shop in Edinburgh too, so may be more familiar with the Edinburgh crowd. With a huge number of flavours to pick from, there’s something for everyone, and they certainly don’t scrimp on the size of the scoop.

Explore the highlands of Scotland in my guide to Pitlochry!

How To get to North Berwick

North Berwick is really easy to get to from Edinburgh city, and perfect for a day trip.

The train is from Edinburgh Waverley – its the end of the line, run by Scotrail, and hits up all the coastal locations of East Lothian on route. The journey is only 40 minutes, so passes really quickly. There are plenty of buses too, although the journey is over an hour and you’ll pass through lots of wee East Lothian villages on route. The car ride is about 50 minutes. If you’re feeling fit, there’s the option to cycle which could take around 2 hours (but I, unsurprisingly, haven’t tried, so can’t vouch for this option!).

Sunset at North Berwick West Bay beach

Let me know if you have a favourite spot in North Berwick that I should check out!

Em


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Published by Emily Johnston

Archaeologist and Heritage Tourist Blogger at www.heritagetourist.co.uk

8 thoughts on “Things to do in North Berwick

  1. Wow, great post and so many amazing photos! North Berwick was one of my favourite places to escape to for some peace and quiet when I lived in Edinburgh. I loved stopping by the Scottish Seabird center – seasonal safaris are heaps of fun 🥰

    Like

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