Sunday 12th July 2015
Here we are in our cosy little cottage just on the edge of the delightful village of Tyninghame in East Lothian. We arrived yesterday after 2 days of driving, mostly on motorways so, we decided to have a relaxing day today and take a stroll around the local area, visiting the nearby beach, and the local coffee shop, before spending the afternoon in the little courtyard garden with a book.
Trouble is – a stroll turned into a 5 mile hike! Never mind – we survived!
Unfortunately, I forgot to pack my pedometer. However, I shall resist absolutely, the urge to run into Edinburgh and spend money on a nice shiny new one, so all distances will be worked out using Ordnance Survey maps and a piece of cotton of the appropriate length!
Tyninghame circular via Links Wood (5 miles)
In our little cottage there are lots of books! Including one called ‘The Buildings of Scotland; Lothian: Except Edinburgh’ by Colin McWilliam (published 1978). It has an interesting little paragraph or two about Tyninghame and tells me that this place is ‘the very model of an estate village’. It describes in detail the buildings hereabouts, built of pink sandstone, and also the little bridge, which is where our ‘stroll’ begins. Our cottage is right next to the bridge, originally constructed in 1778 and widened in 1931.
We turn left and walk away from the village on a long straight road, following the ordnance survey map to Limetree Walk on the right which will eventually take us to the Firth of Forth. This is when we realise that our little stroll is turning into a longer ramble. We’ve already walked two miles when we reach the entrance to Links Woods and we haven’t got to the beach yet.
It’s warm as well and we’re a little unprepared for this. When we left it was windy and cold and threatening rain, but now the sun has come out and we stop to strip off coats and jumpers wishing we’d brought drinking water.
Halfway along Limetree Walk we pass an obelisk – a memorial to Thomas, VI Earl of Haddington which is sited in the grounds of Tyninghame House – more of which later.
On through the woods and down onto the beach, stunning views, calm water and warm sunshine.
The beach is covered in seaweed, shells and burnt driftwood from numerous barbecues. We wander for a short while and then scrutinise the map closely for a shorter route back into Tyninghame.
The best idea seems to be to head back through the woods and then turn left towards the Tyningham Estate and try to find a path across and back to the village that way. We start off well, on a farm track between fields and then turn right along The Avenue.
The track quickly runs out and we follow a vague footpath through long grass and over boggy ground. There are hundreds of butterflies here, but only one manages to stay still long enough for a picture:
The Collins Complete British Wildlife book, courtesy of Sawmill Cottage, tells us that this butterfly is common in woodland in southern England, but less common elsewhere and absent from much of Scotland. The book is dated 1997 so I can only think that since then these little butterflies have moved northwards, or I was very lucky!
We can see The Monument way ahead of us but the path to it seems endless. Finally we come to a junction and turn towards Tyninghame House itself and start along a narrow road. After just a short distance however, we reach a stern sign saying ‘Private Gardens – No Public Access’ and after a few moments of deliberation we are convinced of the need to turn back by the appearance ahead of a large black dog.
We decide to go back to The Avenue and try to find a way across the fields to The Monument from where there appears to be a track back to our road. A stile across a metal fence convinces us that this is the way to go, so we cross and continue through meadows towards our target. Suddenly, to our right, a deer leaps up from the long grass and bounds away, then stops ahead of us on the path to check we’re not giving chase.
The VI Earl of Haddington, born in 1680, was responsible for the planting of the 300 acres of pine, fir, chestnut, beech and oak trees around the Tyninghame Estate helped by his wife Helen who gave ‘valued suggestions and assistance’. The memorial stone states that the Earl
‘at a period of greatest national depression had foresight and energy to set the example of planting on an extensive scale and to be an active and successful promoter of agricultural improvement’.
The woodland, known as Binning Woods, were the pride and joy of successive Earls of Haddington but were felled for timber during the Second World War. They have since been replanted.
We leave The Monument and walk along the edge of a ha-ha towards what we hope is the path out of the estate. Very soon we are amid planted gardens next to cottages, one belonging to the Head Gardener, but keep our heads down and walk quickly on in the direction of the road. A long track later and we can cross the main road and find the coffee shop where we can relax outside in the sunshine.
Afterwards we take a quick look at the Village Hall, ‘the grandest building’ in the village according to Mr McWilliam, it was built in 1842 by Thomas Hannan as the Baker’s House
before heading home between chocolate box cottages with roses round the doors. Yes, we’d like to live here we think!
Total miles walked this year: 463