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East Scotland Coastal Walks with easy access from the A1

These east Scotland coastal walks are ideal if taking a break from driving the main A1 between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Edinburgh. 

East Scotland Coastal Walks

This page on walks near the A1 is for folk from south, driving north to visit Scotland and maybe wanting to take a break before they get to Edinburgh. (So it's really South-East Scotland.) The walks here are not only close to the main A1, they all lie to the east of it. Most form little chunks of the Berwickshire Coastal Path, which runs from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Cockburnspath. It’s just my feeling of course, but I have observed that many car-driving visitors from south shoot through the Scottish Borders without stopping. They are hell-bent on Edinburgh and points north.  I don’t really blame them.

The Scottish Borders
– ‘Scotland-Lite’

I can’t think of a classic Scottish experience offered by the Borders that you can’t have in another part of Scotland, say, in the categories of scenery, heritage, castles, stately homes, gardens, fine dining, nature and wildlife. Don’t get me wrong. This is not the same as saying ‘don’t bother stopping there at all’ – it’s just an impartial observation.  (Being upfront is what we do on this site. Besides, turning the statement on its head means you can sample good Scottish experiences and not have to travel any further north than the South of Scotland.)

So, if most of the Scottish Borders is ‘Scotland-lite’, then coastal Berwickshire introduces themes you will find all the way up Scotland’s east coast: ie, rugged scenery, seabird colonies, picturesque coastal communities and so on. So it’s quite worthwhile getting some insight into the kind of coastal scenery the east side of Scotland offers – especially if you’re heading off north and west, up to the wet desert, sorry, I mean the rolling moors and mountains, of the Highlands.

Looking back to Burnmouth from the coastal path that goes to Eyemouth.

Looking back to Burnmouth from the coastal path that goes to Eyemouth.

(Above) This should help. That’s how close the A1 is to the clifftop path to Eyemouth from the lower part of Burnmouth. This view looks south-east, into the thin sun of an April morning, if you want a poetic moment. It wasn’t as warm as it looks either! 

Burnmouth to Eyemouth clifftop path

Literally within a couple of minutes of crossing into Scotland, you can turn east off the A1 above Berwick-upon-Tweed, signed for Burnmouth. (This is a little coastal village completely unconscious of it status as a place I never mentioned in 30 years of supplying copy for international publishers and tourism bodies of all kinds. Lucky Burnmouth.)

A not over-used clifftop path goes from the top end of Burnmouth round to the wee fishing port of Eyemouth. If you don’t care for there-and-back-again walks, then you could send the family on to Eyemouth (if there is another driver in the company) for an ice-cream and a harbour stroll, say, then rendezvous with them there. Walking, it’s an easy couple of hours, or less, oh, much less. And even Eyemouth is only five minutes off the A1 and verges on the picturesque, if you get the angle right and half-close your eyes. In this part of the world, its one of my favourites among the East Scotland coastal walks.

Eyemouth from the coastal path, with the nature reserve of St Abb’s Head beyond.

Eyemouth from the coastal path, with the nature reserve of St Abb’s Head beyond.

(Above) If you have a moment to peer further at the picture above, you can spot the golf course in the middle distance, the caravan park above the town, with Coldingham Bay out of sight below the white houses high and left of centre.  

Coldingham Sands

You can walk on from Eyemouth by way of a coastal path, and the pastel-coloured blight of the headland caravan park is worth it for the business it brings the town. Alternatively, take a look at Coldingham Sands (drive round). It’s a popular sandy beach, therefore at its best in the off-season. Walk back to Eyemouth – quite wild about mid-way – or walk on round – an easy 20 minutes or so – to St Abbs. Plenty of information about this wee place on that link.

Coldingham Sands in winter, from the path to St Abbs

Coldingham Sands in winter, from the path to St Abbs

(Above) On the St Abbs side of Coldingham Bay, but you can walk on past Coldingham back to Eyemouth.

Cove Harbour

St Abb’s Head all the way round to, say, Pease Bay, is wild country – and I wouldn’t go off-road in those shoes, by the way – so your next best quick break or walk is to come off the Cockburnspath roundabout and park at Cove (30 seconds away). Then either, stroll along the clifftop for a view of Cove Harbour or stroll down to Cove Harbour, which is picturesque and privately owned, so promise you’ll be very tidy, OK? (Scotland’s world-class access laws, the so-called ‘right to roam’, means you don’t have to feel anxious but do have to be responsible. Especially if you are a dog owner.) Anyway, see the next picture just below…..

High tide at Cove harbour, looking along the coast to East Lothian

High tide at Cove harbour, looking along the coast to East Lothian

(Above) This is another example of a place missed by travellers going full-tilt for Edinburgh. High tide at Cove harbour.

Barns Ness Lighthouse

Yes, yes, I know. I’ve missed bits out again. Basically, to get to the lighthouse if coming from south, turn right just past the cement works. Oh, you’ll easily recognise that. It’s just past the nuclear power station, after the landfill site. (What's that? You thought Scotland was all crofts and heather, did you?) Anyway, follow the wee roadie down to the shore – signed ‘White Sands’ – and there’s a fine selection of coastal heath and grassland for you to enjoy.

All along this section of coast, in fact, all the way down to St Abb’s Head, is twitching country. All kinds of rarities turn up. (Birds, birds – it’s birds I’m talking about.)  Even as I was writing this, I heard a yellow-browed warbler had dropped in at Skateraw. But I thought I should finish this page for you instead of nipping out.  Anyway, it’s only a wee brown birdie.

OK, right, When you get back to the car, it’s well under an hour to Edinburgh

Barns Ness Lighthouse, East Lothian

Barns Ness Lighthouse, East Lothian

(Pictured) Barns Ness Lighthouse, from the beach to the east. Barns Ness to Skateraw, by the power station, is a birdy place, especially during spring and autumn migration.