Nestled in the heart of East Lothian lies a hidden gem that’s a much-loved attraction for locals and tourists alike. Archerfield Walled Garden is a beautifully restored 18th-century garden that features manicured flower beds, a delightful garden café, and a charming gift shop.
Archerfield Walled Garden offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a keen gardener, a foodie looking to sample some local cuisine, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, the garden is a great place to head to, especially with children.
In this article, you’ll discover the fascinating history of Archerfield Walled Garden, explore the various attractions and activities on offer, and learn some insider tips to help you make the most of your visit.
|Archerfield Walled Garden,
|Monday to Saturday 10 am - 5 pm
Sundays 9 am - 5 pm
Garden closes 4.30 pm
Cafe opens 9.30 am
|Day Entry £4
Annual Pass £5
Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult
|Free on-site car park
|Tel: 01620 388588
|Car park, garden café, bar, play park, food market, gift shop, wheelchair access, toilets.
East Lothian is one the most underrated counties in Scotland.
Not only does it have beautiful golden sand beaches running all the way from Port Seton to Dunbar, but it’s also home to top attractions like the National Museum of Flight and the Scottish Seabird Centre, as well as a heap of hidden away gems like Archerfield Walled Garden.
Getting to the garden is quite simple if you have the address in your sat-nav as it’s well-signed from the A198 midway between the villages of Dirleton and Gullane, around 2.5 miles west of North Berwick.
The garden is part of the much larger 550-acre Archerfield Estate which comprises woodland, fields, a golf course, and the magnificent 400-year-old Archerfield House.
The estate takes its name from the first recorded occupants in the 13th century who were bowmen from the army of King Edward I. These soldiers set up an encampment in the area which over time became known as the archer’s field, and eventually, Archerfield.
The main house is the centrepiece of the estate and was built in the 17th century for the Nisbet family but saw several different owners over the years including British prime minister H. H. Asquith and the Duke of Hamilton.
Like most of these historic country houses, Archerfield House fell into a long period of decline in the 1900s but has now been completely renovated as an exclusive (and expensive) wedding venue complete with garden lodges, while the nearby walled garden has been converted into a tourist attraction and cafe.
The garden was originally intended to grow food for the main house but as part of its refurbishment it has been converted into different areas including a rose garden, a perennial meadow, a wildlife garden, flower beds, and vegetable gardens which all offer a short but pleasant walk on wheelchair-friendly gravel paths.
The vegetable garden grows produce that’s plucked straight out of the ground for the cafe next door, so if you’re after quality food you won’t find much fresher than the dishes served at Archerfield.
Click here to see the Archerfield Walled Garden menu.
Speaking of the cafe, it’s actually something of an attraction in itself as not only is the food delicious but there’s an excellent farm shop adjoined to it as well as a bar serving local ales and spirits (East Lothian is fast becoming known for its quality gins).
There’s also a sizeable garden at the back where the kids can be let off the leash to run around in a play park while weary mums and dads chill out over a coffee, and there’s a patio area at the front which has outdoor seating for those occasional days when it’s actually warm and sunny in Scotland.
1: Archerfield Walled Garden is ideally placed for families travelling between Edinburgh and North Berwick as it offers a good place to pop into to let the kids burn off energy while mums and dads enjoy a cuppa in the cafe (which serves absolutely delicious cakes by the way!).
2: The garden is lovely at all times of the year but it absolutely blooms with colour in the summer months. Although it won’t take much more than half an hour to visit the walled garden there’s a nice wee fairy trail to wander around afterwards.
3: The cafe and shop are a must-visit. The cafe serves fresh seasonal food sourced straight from the walled garden while the shop stocks a good selection of artisanal foods from around Edinburgh and East Lothian. It’s a wee bit pricey, but if you’re after a treat or a gift, the shop is highly recommended.
1: For somewhere so tucked away you’d be forgiven for thinking the cafe doesn’t get that busy – but think again because it’s absolutely heaving at the weekend. If you can, I suggest leaving a visit for midweek, but if you do intend to visit at the weekend you might consider waiting till the lunchtime scrum has finished.
2: Families with younger children might like to take them for a walk around the fairy trail at the rear of the walled garden. A path heads through a wooded area and past a pond where there are a few ‘woodland folk’ to look for. Entry is free and it will keep little legs happily zooming about for a good half hour or more.
3: This is, in my mind at least, the best part of East Lothian. If you’re wondering what to do after a visit to Archerfield Walled Garden I recommend Dirleton Castle, Yellowcraig and Gullane beaches, and North Berwick – all of which are a short drive from the Archerfield Estate.
Although there’s a small charge to walk around the garden (totally worth it, by the way), the play park and the Archerfield Walled Garden fairy trail behind the cafe are entirely free of charge, making it a great place to visit for anyone wanting a cheap way to spend an hour or two in the fresh air.
Rough paths wind their way from the rear of the cafe across a lawn area next to a pond before disappearing into a well-trodden grass trail that presents lovely views of the surrounding countryside.
At 1/2 mile it’s not exactly the longest walk in Scotland but toddlers will love it, especially if you set them the task of looking for signs of the fairies that live in the surrounding trees.
If you’re not visiting the garden with children you might be interested in joining one of the events held at the garden throughout the year. These events include garden tours with the head gardener, talks about sustainable gardening, and tips on vegetable gardening.
If you have green fingers they’re well worth booking so you might like to bookmark the Whats On page as the talks and demonstrations rotate throughout the year.
As far as parking goes, hats have to be tipped to the site managers as there are ample spaces both immediately at the front of the cafe and to the side so all abilities are able to visit the site, and the entry doors are nice and wide so wheelchairs should have no bother getting inside.
One final thing to mention is that if you arrive and find it’s too crowded in the cafe (tables are on a first-come, first-served basis), you might like to take a 1-mile walk along the nearby country lane to kill a little time.
This lane is a nice wee walk between Archerfield golf course, woodland, and fields, and finishes in Dirleton village where you can while away an hour or two at Dirleton Castle before heading back to the walled garden and cafe.
Things to Do
Exploring the Walled Garden: Archerfield Walled Garden is a beautiful place to relax on a sunny day. It’s home to a variety of plants that have been carefully cultivated and visitors can wander through the garden, enjoy the peace and tranquillity, and admire the lovely flower displays.
Food Market: The on-site shop houses its own food market where you can taste a range of local beers and spirits and purchase fresh locally sourced farm produce. It’s not cheap, but the quality is second to none.
Fairy Trail: This is a magical experience for kids and adults alike. The fairy trail winds through the woodland area of the garden where youngsters will find a collection of tiny fairy houses hidden amongst the trees. It’s a charming and enchanting walk that will spark the imagination of the wee ones, and it’s completely free to visit.
Garden Tours: For those seeking tips and advice on how to manage their own garden, Archerfield’s gardeners will be more than happy to discuss every aspect of their craft while also explaining the history of the Archerfield estate. See the Archerfield website for details on how to book a tour.
Cafe and Shop: After exploring Archerfield Walled Garden, unwind at the on-site cafe which serves delicious cakes, sandwiches, and hot drinks. The shop sells a range of gifts and souvenirs as well as home furnishings and unique features for your garden.
Things to Do Nearby
Yellowcraig Beach. Ware Road, North Berwick EH39. 8-minute drive.
One of the top beaches in East Lothian. This beach features clean golden sand and shallow water so is well suited to families with young children.
The John Muir Way runs past the rear of the dunes. There is a large car park, a children’s play area, toilets, and a snack van on-site.
Dirleton Castle. Dirleton, North Berwick EH39 5ER. 4-minute drive.
A medieval fortress that is largely intact and has several interesting features including one of Scotland’s best-preserved dovecots, surprisingly large storage vaults, and the world’s longest herbaceous border.
The Scottish Seabird Centre. The Harbour, North Berwick EH39 4SS. 10-minute drive.
An environmental visitor centre that aims to educate and entertain visitors with displays and exhibitions about Scotland’s coastal marine wildlife.
The centre features a viewing platform that overlooks Bass Rock, and a harbour that’s the departure point for pleasure cruises around the nearby islands which are home to thousands of seabirds.
North Berwick Law. North Berwick EH39 5NX. 11-minute drive.
A large volcanic plug that rises 187 metres above the coastal town of North Berwick.
Berwick Law has well-trodden paths that allow relatively easy access to the whalebone sculpture at the top. The summit is famed for the stunning views across East Lothian and the Firth of Forth.
Gullane Beach. Marine Terrace, Gullane EH31 2AZ. 8-minute drive. A large beach to the northeast of Aberlady Nature Reserve. The beach has paths through the sand dunes that link it to nearby Yellowcraig beach.
There is a car park on-site. Gullane village includes a selection of pubs and restaurants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who owns Archerfield Walled Garden?
The Douglas-Hamilton family, who have lived and farmed on Archerfield Estate since the 1960s, own Archerfield Walled Garden.
What is the purpose of a walled garden?
Walled gardens are surrounded by high walls, usually for horticultural rather than security reasons. In temperate climates, particularly colder ones like Scotland, garden walls protect flowers, herbs and vegetables from wind and frost.
Who invented the walled garden?
The concept of an enclosed garden can be traced back centuries to Medieval Europe when hedges and fences were employed for security. However, the ‘compleat kitchen garden’ concept was first proposed by the famous landscape designer Batty Langley in the 18th century.
What hotels are near Archerfield Walled Garden?
Greywalls Hotel & Chez Roux: Greywalls, Muirfield, Gullane EH31 2EG.
The Castle Inn: Manse Road, Dirleton, North Berwick, EH39 5EP.
The Bonnie Badger: Main Street, Gullane, EH31 2AB.
The Watchman Hotel: East Links Road, Gullane, EH31 2AF.
Is Archerfield Walled Garden wheelchair friendly?
Archerfield Walled Garden is mostly accessible by wheelchair. All entrances have double doors and there are four parking spots close to the front door for people with blue badges. There are also two restrooms for people with disabilities, one of which is in the main building and has an electric adult-sized change table that can be raised and lowered.