Known as Edinburgh’s Coast and Countryside due to its proximity to Scotland’s historic capital, the region has so much to offer as the rolling countryside meets 40 miles of stunning coastline – all just a short journey from Yorkshire.
It’s easy to go green in East Lothian with a wealth of eco-tourism options, including some of Scotland’s finest secret getaways, low-carbon adventures and a range fun activities that celebrate and protect the region’s outstanding natural habitats.
Where to stay
A stay in Carberry Tower, just 15 minutes from the historic capital of Edinburgh, proves a sustainable approach doesn’t mean skimping on luxury. This magnificent mansion house, once a childhood holiday home for the Queen, topped VisitScotland’s eco-tourism accommodation guide. Here you can relax in one of 30 beautifully appointed en-suite bedrooms that feature ornate carvings and period fireplaces harking back to the tower’s 15th-century roots. And explore 35 acres of beautiful grounds, full of sweeping lawns, tree-lined avenues and landscaped nooks and crannies.
For those seeking a digital detox, The Secret Cabin is the perfect destination to escape from it all for the weekend as it’s a TV and wi-fi-free zone. Nestled in woodland at Seacliff, near the stunning coastal town of North Berwick, it has everything you need for a romantic getaway – there's even a bespoke double bed made from wood washed up in a storm. Enjoy a private garden with a fire pit where you can cook alfresco as the days lengthen then cosy up to listen to the owls or just gaze at the stars.
Where to eat
East Lothian is home to some of the country’s very best coastal cuisine with a number of excellent eateries offering eco-friendly options.
Head to the Bonnie Badger, proud holder of a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand and 5 AA Gold Stars to discover a seasonal menu that celebrates outstanding local produce. Created by TV chef Tom Kitchin and his wife Michaela, the stylish hotel restaurant is located in the coastal village of Gullane. Head chef Matthew and his team have a strong ‘from nature to plate’ philosophy, working closely with local farmers, fishermen, producers and suppliers.
East Coast in Musselburgh combines a modern fish and chip shop with a new seafood and grill restaurant, and they use local, sustainable suppliers whenever possible. With some of the finest produce in the world available on their doorstep, they are keen to champion that at every opportunity. The owners have earned a Silver Green Tourism Award for their own commitment to sustainable practices.
If you’re in need of a low-carbon caffeine fix, Catherine Franks, founder of North Berwick’s Steampunk Coffee Roasters & Café was named Scotland’s first sustainable food hero in 2021 for her commitment to positive change.
What to do
Lovers of Scotland’s great outdoors and the natural world are spoiled for choice in East Lothian with its incredible landscapes, iconic wildlife, rare habitats and untouched corners to explore.
It’s a fantastic place to lace up your hiking boots to take in the outstanding scenery. Or enjoy a bracing dip with the help of some of the area’s leading adventure tourism businesses like Ocean Vertical, an ethical adventure company specialising in paddle boarding, coasteering, surfing, SUP yoga, climbing and mountaineering.
Thrillseekers will also love Foxlake Adventures, an award-winning adventure hub that offers a variety of exhilarating outdoor activities. From the UK’s first ropes course over water and Ringo Rides to Segway experiences and wakeboarding lessons with fully trained staff, there’s something for everyone from mid-March.
Cyclists should check out Belhaven Bikes where they can hire mountain bikes or ebikes to explore the area on two wheels. Subject to availability, the shop can even arrange delivery, pick up and one way hire for visitors to explore cycle trails like the John Muir Way.
Scotland’s golf coast
East Lothian is known as Scotland’s Golf Coast because it is home to the greatest concentration of Championship links golf courses in the world. Its 21 golf courses include Musselburgh Links – the world’s oldest playing golf course – where you can still hire hickory golf clubs to this day.
Spring/summer sees the wildflowers put on a great show of colour, including blackthorn, primroses, and bluebells, and the return of a huge variety of migratory birds, such as endangered puffins and the world’s largest colony of Northern Gannets. Keep an eye out for brown hares sprinting across fields, roe deer nibbling at the edge of woodlands or grey seals on the coast.
Discover the wonders of marine life along this pristine coastline at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick. The education and conservation charity’s five-star Discovery Experience brings to life the wonders of Scotland's exceptional marine habitats and wildlife. There’s a busy programme of events throughout the year, and from April to October you can take a boat trip to nearby islands to discover just some of the area’s stunning seabirds and marine wildlife – you might even spot some dolphins or whales.
Discover Scotland’s sustainable heritage
Find out how a boy from Dunbar became a driving force behind the global conservation movement at John Muir’s Birthplace Museum, a unique free museum which tells the truly inspirational tale of his life as an inventor, botanist, geologist, glaciologist, farmer and artist. The team’s environmental education work has earned it the Gold Green Tourism Business Scheme Award and it is also the starting point for the John Muir Way coast-to-coast trail, which runs for 134 miles across Scotland’s heartland.
Or why not journey through Glenkinchie Distillery’s storied landscape and rich heritage at the Lowland home of Johnnie Walker whisky’s new multi-million home development. Staff there have labelled it ‘The Garden Distillery’ because of the influence of the incredible land and greenery surrounding it, and the distillery is now the proud owner of Scotland’s Green Tourism Gold Award thanks to their sustainability efforts.
Love East Lothian Responsibility
Visit www.visiteastlothian.org to plan a 2022 break that’s far from ordinary in East Lothian.
And whatever you decide to do there, please respect, protect and enjoy the area responsibility.