Dunbar January 2005

Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary

Photo: Castle. I am a member of Glasgow HF Walking Club Glasgow HF Club The Club runs a bus on one Sunday each month allowing us to have a linear walk with the bus dropping us at the start of the walk and meeting us at the endpoint. Just before Christmas, the organised walk was Traprain Law to Dunbar with the opportunity to visit John Muir?s birthplace in Dunbar. John Muir founded the National Parks in the United States and there is a trail from Yosemite to Mount Whitney in California named after him. I mentioned this trail in my article in October 2001 on the USA and Yosemite.

Anyway, back to the walk. The bus was full, possibly people trying to escape Xmas shopping or the weather was good for a brisk walk! The bus dropped us at Traprain Law, near East Linton. The Law is a volcanic (extinct) hill on the East Lothian Coastal Plain, a few hundred feet high but interesting archaeologically. There was a good path to the top to see the site excavated in 1919 which had revealed more than a hundred items of fine Roman silverware now in the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh. The coins suggested a date of 395-423AD giving Traprain a place in the Scottish History of Archaeology. Earlier excavations on the Law revealed early occupation dating back to Neolithic times. The Bronze Age discoveries included middens, a word in use to this day in Scotland meaning rubbish tips in settlements!

After descending the Law we walked along a good path to Hailes Castle, one of the oldest castles surviving in Scotland. The grounds were an ideal spot for lunch. The castle is medieval and was the fortified residence of the nobleman and his family. There are two pit prisons for the Lord to dispense justice but also useful as a refuge during times of siege. In 1567 Mary, Queen of Scots third husband forfeited the lands. The castle then had a chequered history passing to the State in 1926.

Photo: Bridge. The walk continued along a very peaceful river eventually reaching Belhaven Bay where there was an opportunity to have a brief stop for tea on the beach. The daylight hours are short in Scotland in winter and we had to complete the walk by 4pm as it was very close to the shortest day on 22 December. It had been a clear day so near the sea it was very cold. We walked briskly on over the Bridge to Dunbar on the estuary and known locally as the Bridge to Nowhere. Fortunately, the tide was out or we might have been stranded on the bridge as the photograph shows! This area is known as the John Muir Country Park. The sun was setting and we had fabulous views over the estuary back to Traprain Law with wonderful hues of red and orange from the sun.

It was dark when we completed the nine miles and I have to confess we headed for the pub in Dunbar and not the John Muir House on High Street. However, I promise to go back to Dunbar and visit the house where admission is free and there is an exhibition on his life and legacy. John Muir Trust

Many thanks to Stephen for arranging such an interesting historical walk, enjoyed immensely by all.

Coming attractions; Monadh Liath Munros and anything I do in the next few months.

Contact me at [email protected]

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