Hailes Castle is 1.5m south west of East Linton off the A1.
Parking is available.
Grid reference – NT 574 757.
Website: Historic Scotland
Prices and opening times
Hailes Castle is free to visit and open year-round.
About Hailes Castle
Sitting a mile and a half south-west of East Linton, Hailes Castle resides in a beautiful riverside setting that’s just perfect for an afternoon of exploration followed by a picnic next to the gentle river that flows behind it. The castle was built in the 14th century by the Hepburn family, but today it’s under the ownership of Historic Scotland and is often regarded as one of East Lothian’s hidden gems. As with many castles of this age, Hailes is a collection of ruined walls and outbuildings, but what sets it apart is the beautiful location in which it sits. Surrounded on all sides by fields and woodland, the castle can be best used as the start and end point for a walk in the East Lothian countryside, although as there’s no car park nearby you’ll be forced to park somewhere along the single track road which leads onto the site.
Within the 13th-century curtain wall is the 14th-century keep, to which ranges were added in the 15th and 16th centuries. The major remaining building is the west tower, which dwarfs the remains of the central tower that was built in the 16th-century, and there’s also a vaulted bakehouse and brewhouse from this time which can be seen in the basement area. One of the most interesting sections of Hailes Castle is the huge dining room which features the remnants of a massive but long-extinguished fireplace, and it’s amazing to think that this dilapidated ruin was once the focal point for grand banquets and feasts.
Because Hailes is one of the more out-of-reach castles in the Historic Scotland catalogue, you will often find that you will be the only person walking around the site, especially mid-week. This makes it a perfect spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Lothian towns, so if you’re on your own don’t forget to take a blanket, flask of tea and a good book for a bit of countryside relaxation. As the site is currently unmanned there is no admission charge to enter, and you’re free to spend as much time at the site as you like.