A Guide to Gosford House & Grounds in East Lothian

Gosford House

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Table of Contents

Summary

Gosford House is a neoclassical stately home located 16 miles east of the centre of Edinburgh.

Built in 1800 by celebrated Scottish architect Robert Adam for the 7th Earl of Wemyss, it is now a popular tourist destination due to its expansive gardens which feature ponds, woodlands, and a number of footpaths.

While the house is closed on most days there are frequent open days held throughout the year when visitors can join a guided tour around the interior to admire Gosford House’s unique architecture and decadent furnishings.

Gosford House
Address:Gosford House, Longniddry, EH32 0PY
Opening Hours:Gosford House is open for guided tours during open days only. The gardens are open 24/7, 365 days a year.
Admission Price:Permits are required to access the grounds which can be purchased from the Bothy shop, either per day or an annual pass. Tours of the house during open days are £10 per adult or £5 for seniors and students.
Parking:During open days, parking is possible in the gravel courtyard accessed from the main gate on the A198.
At all other times visitors must use the car park next to the Bothy shop.
Contact:tours@gosfordhouse.co.uk
Facilities:There are no visitor facilities at Gosford House. The nearest facilities are in Longniddry (2.5 miles) or Prestonpans (5 miles).

The highlights

1: Gosford House is a real hidden gem in East Lothian. Though mostly used by locals for walks and afternoons out it’s easily accessible for tourists coming from Edinburgh.

The centre of the capital is just 35 minutes away by car, making Gosford House a nice alternative for anyone seeking an escape from the hubbub of the city.

2: The grounds surrounding Gosford House are gorgeous at all times of the year but they’re especially nice in spring and summer when the woodland comes alive with blossoming wildflowers.

Those visitors seeking a longer walk can head out of the main gate to the car park of Gosford Bay beach which has rough paths along the coastline towards Longniddry and Prestonpans.

3: No visit to Gosford House is complete without stopping at the Bothy and taking home some locally-sourced goodies. The Bothy is the main stockist of Gosford House produce which includes fresh eggs and a delicious assortment of pies and prime meat cuts.

Gosford House

Visiting tips

1: Entry to Gosford House is via a turn-off from the A198 past the main entrance. It’s a wee bit tricky to find if you haven’t been before as the sign is rather small. The lat/long is 56.00506489543381, -2.8725433385376156 and the What 3 Words location is ///sparrows.stupidly.cheek.

2: If you intend to revisit Gosford House throughout the year it works out cheaper to get an annual permit rather than a day pass. Annual permits can be purchased from the Bothy shop and cost around £15 per person.

3: The only way to see inside the house is to join one of the guided tours held on open days. To see when the next open day is coming up, take a look at the Gosford House website.


Overview

East Lothian is something of a mystery to most tourists visiting Scotland, mainly because they tend to spend their time in Edinburgh before zooming north towards the Highlands and Skye.

That’s a shame in my opinion, especially considering it can take less than half an hour to get from the city centre to the beautiful coastline that East Lothian is famous for.

There are lots of attractions in the county – some historic, some scenic – but this one near Longniddry manages to combine both aspects in one beautiful location.

Gosford House

Gosford House lies 17 miles to the east of Princes Street in Edinburgh, more or less midway between the popular coastal towns of Musselburgh and North Berwick, in a lovely location overlooking the golden sand beaches of Longniddry Bents and Gosford Bay.

Access is possible via two entry points, the first of which is the main entrance (only open to visitors during open-house days) and the second is the rear entrance at the Gosford Bothy shop which is located a little further east along the A198.

The shop is well worth a look inside as it sells a variety of home-grown artisan produce and it’s also where visitors can purchase a permit allowing them to enter the Gosford Estate.

A path leads out of the car park into woodland before passing animal enclosures (the farm shop butchers its own meat), ponds, and manicured lawns, before opening up to the house itself.

Gosford House

For the majority of the time the house is closed to the public so a tour inside is only possible on a handful of days throughout the year, but at least you’re free to wander around the exterior year-round.

The house was built in 1800 by celebrated Scottish architect Robert Adam as a magnificent mansion of the earls of Wemyss, and it’s arguably the finest neoclassical building in southeast Scotland.

Across the 5,000-acre estate are a number of other listed buildings but the house, the stables, and the mausoleum are the main attractions as they’re all Category A listed and designated as being outstanding examples of their type.

The reason why the house is closed to the public for the majority of the time is that it’s still privately owned by the Earls of Wemyss and its current owner – the 13th Earl – has family accommodation in the south wing (although his main home is actually in Gloucestershire).

Gosford House

The rest of the house is used for private events, either as a wedding venue or a filming location.

Gosford House weddings are obviously private affairs so when they’re held the house is completely closed to non-wedding guests. That being said, the house only holds a limited number of receptions each year so they don’t cause too much of a disruption to visitors.

The second usage is perhaps the most interesting as a number of movies and TV shows have been staged at Gosford House including the hit TV show Outlander where it portrayed the stable house of the Palace of Versaille in season 2 and the houses of Helwater and Ellesmere in season 3.

Gosford House

Tourist information

As mentioned above, finding the entry road that leads to the Bothy shop is a wee bit tricky so if it’s your first time I recommend adding the location to your sat nav.

Once inside, visitors will find that the Gosford House walk that runs through the surrounding woodland is exceptionally scenic and you’ll easily be able to spend a good couple of hours rambling around the grounds, especially if you have children.

The first port of call will no doubt be the pig enclosure which is always a winner with youngsters – especially so when there are piglets squeaking about.

After the pigs, the next sight is the pyramid-shaped Wemyss mausoleum which is closed to the public but is so unusual it’s worth taking a good look at. It was built for the 7th Earl who was a Grand Master Mason of the governing body of Freemasons in Scotland, hence its unusual design.

Gosford House

Continuing along the path takes visitors past a couple of ponds (if you have children you might like to take some bread with you to feed the ducks and swans), after which you’ll end up on a huge lawn that faces Gosford House.

On a summer day this lawn is a superb place for a picnic and I’m happy to report that it’s rarely busy, even in the height of summer at the weekend.

In fact, the only time I’ve ever seen the house busy is during the infrequent open days when it’s opened up to allow guided tours to take place.

The tours are genuinely interesting and are well worth the cost of admission, with the shorter tour (45 minutes) allowing you to see the south wing and the longer tour (90 minutes) allowing you to see the south wing, the family apartments, and the house’s central square.

If it’s an open day you won’t have to drive around to the Bothy shop car park as they open the main gate and allow you to park right outside the south wing which avoids the 1-mile walk from the shop.

Gosford House

An alternative option for getting to Gosford House is public transport using East Coast buses #124 and #X5 which both stop at the main entrance and run from Edinburgh city centre every hour.

The only downside is that the journey takes the best part of an hour, but at least the tickets are cheap at less than a fiver for an all-day return.

You’ll find full details about times and tickets on the Lothian Buses website.

If you’d like to extend your visit to Gosford House and grounds you can walk to the main gate and then cross the road to get onto Gosford Bay beach which is a lovely stretch of golden sand when the tide’s out, though it’s completely submerged when the tide is in.

Heading north is a wee bit tricky as the coastline is quite rocky around Craigielaw golf course, so heading south is the best option as it’ll take you to another beach at Longniddry Bents which has a large car park with a delicious semi-permanent fish and chip van and a toilet block which is the only toilet facility in the immediate area.

Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:

Dunbar & North Berwick – 351 Explorer.

Edinburgh – 66 Landranger.

OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.


Things to do nearby

Seton Collegiate Church. Longniddry EH32 0PG. 9-minute drive.
Seton Collegiate is a former religious school and place of worship that is now managed by Historic Environment Scotland.

The church and grounds are situated 2 miles (3.22 km) west of Longniddry and are open to visitors for self-guided tours.

Prestongrange Museum. Prestonpans EH32 9RX. 8-minute drive.
An open-air museum that features a collection of the original machinery and industrial buildings from across 400 years when the site was a glass works, a pottery and a colliery.

Entry is free. An on-site shop is open during the summer months only.

Myreton Motor Museum. Aberlady, Longniddry EH32 0PZ. 11-minute drive.
A small privately-run and highly-rated motor museum that celebrates automobilia with a collection of cars, bikes, motorcycles and trucks.

Carberry Tower Mansion House. Carberry Tower Estate, Musselburgh EH21 8PY. 9-minute drive.
A grand 18th-century country house set in 35 acres of picturesque countryside.

The house is open both as a hotel and a restaurant. The grounds are free to visit and paths run to Queen Mary’s Mount where Mary Queen of Scots is said to have rested after the Battle of Pinkie in 1547.

Levenhall Links and Musselburgh Lagoons Nature Reserve. 2 Hope Pl, Musselburgh EH21 7QE. 8-minute walk.
A nature reserve and a popular bird-watching site that has been created from reclaimed coal excavations from nearby quarries.


Frequently asked questions

Who lives in Gosford House?

There are currently no permanent residents living in Gosford House. It is owned by the 13th Earl of Wemyss and March who lives in Stanway House in Gloucestershire.

What was filmed at Gosford House?

The following movies and TV shows were filmed at Gosford House:
The House of Mirth.
The Little Vampire.
The Awakening.
Garrows Law.
Castles in the Sky.
The Amazing Race.
Case Histories.
Million Dollar American Princesses.
The Secret Agent.
Tommy’s Honour.
Outlander series 2 & 3.
BBC’s Armchair Detectives.

Can you walk around Gosford House?

Yes, it is possible to walk around Gosford House, but only as part of a guided tour during open days. At all other times, access to the interior of Gosford House is not permitted.
The grounds are accessible year-round, though visitors must pay for a permit.

Where is East Lothian?

East Lothian is situated on the southeast edge of Scotland between the Firth of Forth and the Scottish Borders. The county borders the North Sea on its eastern side while its western side borders the county of Midlothian.
East Lothian is one of 32 council areas in Scotland and is part of the Eastern Central Lowlands of Scotland.

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By Craig Neil

Craig Neil is a travel writer from Edinburgh with a passion for exploring the hidden gems of Scotland. From the rugged Highlands to the bustling cities, he's dedicated years to touring the country and uncovering its many attractions. Join him as he shares insider tips and personal experiences to help visitors find the best things to do in Scotland. Follow him on Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

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