Last updated on May 24th, 2020
North Berwick Law in East Lothian
This 600-foot high remnant of an ancient volcano is a favourite destination for walkers, dog owners, and families looking to get some fresh air. You’ll find Berwick Law on the ouskirts of the coastal town of North Berwick in East Lothian.
Category: Landmark, Walk or cycle route
Suitable for ages: 5 to 10 years, 11 to 18 years, 18+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 8 out of 10
About North Berwick Law
Standing 187m above sea level, North Berwick Law dominates the landscape around the popular town of North Berwick.
Finding the ancient landmark is an easy task as all you have to do is head towards the seaside resort and as soon as the town is in view you simply head to the gigantic mound that stands proud in this otherwise relatively flat part of East Lothian.
Access to the Law is easy thanks to North Berwick council who have conveniently provided a car park at the foot of the hill, and a gently sloping path winds its way upwards to the summit.
It’s a nice walk to the top and the views there are lovely, especially on a bright summer day when the sun glints off the Firth of Forth below. It’s also a really good place to take the dog for a walk so if you’ve got a four-legged friend you could do a lot worse than take them for a wander to the top of North Berwick Law.
Things to do at North Berwick Law
From the top of the hill you can take in some very nice views of the East Lothian countryside, with the town of North Berwick stretching out in front of you and rolling fields heading out in all other directions.
Northwards, the shimmering waves of the Firth of Forth can be seen with the gannet-covered Bass Rock clearly visible just a short distance away.
If you make the walk to the summit you should be aware that in wet weather the grassy trail can become slippery with mud, and when the North Sea winds blow it can make the ascent a little uncomfortable. But on a clear sunny day the route to the top is nothing short of spectacular.
The only downside to this walk is that as you get nearer to the summit you’ll find the track suddenly turns into a bit of a rocky scramble, so if you’ve got toddlers you’re going to have to carry them up to the top. But hey, at least its good exercise for you!
The history of North Berwick Law
North Berwick Law is actually a volcanic plug that erupted from the landscape over 300 million years ago, and after millennia of erosion the tough rock that we now see is all that remains to remind us that East Lothian was once an area of intense geological activity.
The hill has a long history as a naval lookout post, with records indicating that it had been used for such a purpose as far back as 1544 when fires would be lit to raise the alarm if French ships tried to enter the Firth of Forth.
At the summit you’ll find the remains of a stone building that was built around 1800 as a watch-house during the Napoleonic wars, while a much later World War II lookout post can be seen near the top, forever scanning the horizon for German ships.
You’ll also likely be surprised by the white object sitting right at the very top of the law which looks a bit out of place until you work out what it is.
This is actually a replica of the whale bones that were first placed there in 1709 when Scotland had an active whaling industry, although the current ones are of a much more modern (and ecologically friendly) fibreglass construction.
- The views from the top of Berwick Law are stunning. East Lothian’s coastline is certainly worthy of a selfie or two.
- It’s a lovely wee walk that’s quite easy and pretty much anyone with any fitness level should be able to make it. There are flat levels between the steep slopes so there are plenty of places to stop for a rest should you need one.
- Berwick law is easy to get to from North Berwick so you can combine a visit with the Scottish Seabird Centre or the fishing village’s lovely beaches.
- You’ll get the most of out of a walk up Berwick Law by waiting for a clear day when the wind has dropped. Otherwise, you’ll find it very breezy at the top and if the haar (fog) rolls in you won’t be able to see a thing.
- If you go when the wind is blowing you’ll find it’s usually absolutely ripping at the top thanks to the law’s exposed location on the coast. Even in summer consider taking a windproof jacket or you’ll quickly get cold.
- Combine a visit with Yellowcraig beach which you can see in the near distance from the top of Berwick Law.
Photos and video
Address and map
Grid ref: NT 556 842
Berwick Law is free to visit and open year-round
- Telephone: 01620827459 (Countryside officer)
- email: [email protected] (Countryside officer)
- Website: East Lothian.gov
Getting there: Car park on-site
Getting around: Uneven paths
On-site conveniences: None. Nearest conveniences are in North Berwick