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 North Berwick Law on the outskirts of the coastal town of North Berwick in East Lothian. Discover this popular landmark with this guide which includes an overview, visiting tips, and useful tourist information
|Parking:||Car park on-site|
North Berwick Law is a distinctive conical hill in East Lothian. This ancient volcanic plug is a prominent landmark visible from miles around, offering panoramic views from its peak. It’s also an area of significant historical interest, featuring the remains of an Iron Age fort and a Napoleonic signal station.
Standing 187m above sea level, North Berwick Law dominates the landscape around the popular town of North Berwick. Finding this landmark isn’t difficult as all you have to do is head to North Berwick and then follow the roads leading towards the gigantic mound that looms over this otherwise relatively flat part of East Lothian.
Access by car is from the B1347, so if you have a sat-nav tap in postcode EH39 5NX and you’ll get there easily enough. North Berwick council has installed a car park at the foot of the hill and they also manage the gravel path that exits the car park, but the majority of the route to the summit is an unmanaged rough track which isn’t suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs.
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 have a four-legged friend you could do a lot worse than take them to the top of North Berwick Law.
1: The views from the top of Berwick Law are stunning and East Lothian’s countryside is certainly worthy of a selfie or two. Looking to the north you’ll see Bass Rock and the islet of Craigleith.
2: This is a lovely 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 steepest slopes so there are plenty of places to stop for a rest should you need one. At a very leisurely pace, it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to walk to the top.
3: Berwick Law is easy to get to from North Berwick so you can combine a visit with the Scottish Seabird Centre or the town’s superb beaches.
1: You’ll get the most 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.
2: If you go when the wind is blowing it can be very cold at the top due to the hill’s exposed coastal location. I recommend packing a windproof jacket in your bag, even in summer.
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 puffin and 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.
It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to walk to the top and as it’s a fairly shallow slope pretty much everyone should be able to manage it. However, be aware that as you get near the summit you’ll find the track suddenly turns into a bit of a rocky scramble so if you have toddlers with you you’re probably going to have to carry them.
North Berwick Law is a volcanic plug that erupted from the landscape over 300 million years ago, and this weather-eroded rock is all that’s left to remind us that East Lothian was once an area of intense volcanic activity.
The hill has a long history as a naval lookout post and records indicate that it was used for that purpose as far back as 1544 when fires were lit to raise the alarm whenever 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 watchhouse during the Napoleonic wars, while a much later World War II lookout post can also 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. It’s actually a replica of whale bones from the 1700s when Scotland had an active whaling industry, although the current ones are of a much more modern (and ecologically friendly) fibreglass construction.
Things to Do
Climb North Berwick Law: North Berwick Law is a volcanic hill that’s 613 feet in height, providing a challenging yet rewarding hike. The trail winds through rough grass and steep rockfaces before culminating in panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the North Sea. It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon for solo adventurers and families alike.
Explore the Law’s History: North Berwick Law has a rich history that stretches back centuries. At the top of the hill, you’ll find the remains of military lookout posts as well as a replica of a whale’s jawbone, paying homage to the whaling industry that is now long gone (thankfully).
Photography: For the artists and photographers, North Berwick Law offers breathtaking sunrise and sunset views. Capture the landscape as the day begins or as the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky with hues of orange, pink, and purple.
Bird Watching: The area around North Berwick Law is a haven for birdwatchers. You can spot birds such as skylarks, meadow pipits, and peregrine falcons, as well as a number of seabirds including gannets and puffins. Taking a pair of binoculars (link to binocular reviews) is a must.
Picnic with a View: After a hike to the summit, why not reward yourself with a scenic picnic? The view from the top is the perfect backdrop for a light lunch – though it’s perhaps best avoided if it’s windy as there’s little protection at the top.
Things to Do Nearby
Yellowcraig Beach. Ware Rd, North Berwick EH39. 13-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, children’s play area, toilets and a snack van on-site.
Tantallon Castle. North Berwick EH39 5PN. 9-minute drive.
A partially ruined curtain-wall fortress set on clifftops that overlook Seacliff Beach and Bass Rock. Visitors can climb to the top of the corner towers for uninterrupted views of the East Lothian coastline.
Seacliff Beach. North Berwick EH39 5PP. 10-minute drive.
A wide, golden sand beach that offers superb views of the North Sea and Tantallon Castle. A large area of raised rock beds creates large rock pools when the tide retreats. The beach is part of the Seacliff Estate which provides a paid parking area.
Dirleton Castle. Dirleton, North Berwick EH39 5ER. 11-minute drive.
A medieval fortress that is largely intact and has several interesting features like one of Scotland’s best-preserved dovecots, surprisingly big storage vaults and the world’s longest herbaceous border.
The Scottish Seabird Centre. The Harbour, North Berwick EH39 4SS. 5-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 the Bass Rock and it is the departure point for pleasure cruises around the rock.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to climb North Berwick Law?
Climbing North Berwick Law typically takes around 30-45 minutes, depending on your fitness level. It’s a relatively steep climb, but the views from the top are definitely worth it.
Is Berwick Law a volcano?
Berwick Law is a volcanic plug of phonolitic trachyte rock that is between 330 and 360 million years old. A volcanic plug is formed when magma hardens within a vent in an active volcano.
How high is North Berwick Law?
North Berwick Law has an elevation of 614 feet (187 metres).
Is North Berwick Law difficult?
Berwick Law is an easy climb for anyone with moderate fitness levels. The hill has a sloping path that winds its way to the top which is comprised of compacted dirt, with a minor scramble over rocks towards the summit.