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The Out About Scotland complete guide to North Berwick Law
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 seaside town of North Berwick. Finding the ancient landmark is an easy task as all you have to do is head towards the popular 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 leads upwards and winds all the way to the summit.
It’s a nice walk to the top and the views from the summit are lovely, especially on a bright summer day with the sun glinting 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 of the Forth 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.
What I liked about this attraction
- The views from the top are stunning
- It’s a lovely wee walk that’s quite easy
- It’s easy to get to from North Berwick
My top tips
- You’ll get the most of out of a walk up Berwick Law by waiting for a clear day when the wind has dropped
- If you go when the wind is blowing you’ll find it’s usually absolutely ripping at the top thanks to it’s exposed location on the coast. Wear 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
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Address and directions map
Grid ref: NT 556 842
Prices and opening times
Berwick Law is free to visit and open year-round
- Telephone: 01620827459 (Countryside officer)
- email: email@example.com (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