Like Ross Geller from Friends, I’m carrying a little “holiday weight”. However, that holiday seems to have been going on for about 9 months! So in a bid to shift some of it, I’ve been getting back out on the bike recently. The poor frame creaks in despair every time I sit on it but at least I’m riding it.
Anyway, a mate of mine does a fair bit of work to promote Haddington so he asked me to write a piece on things to see that are within a stone’s throw. So at 6am one morning I went out on a wee tour with one of the other chaps from Haddington Cycle Club.
First stop was the Lamp of Lothian. Essentially they are some beautifully restored buildings on the north end of the town. You can read more about what they are used for here Lamp of Lothian.
Next stop was the Waterside Bistro. Perhaps my favourite place in Haddington. Alas it was not open at 06:15am. It’s recently changed hands and James (the new manager) has done a great job in turning it into a very popular, award winning restaurant. Check out the menu at Waterside Bistro.
From there we went to St Mary’s Parish Church. It’s a beautiful building and the grave yard has some spectacular head stones with some very moving statements written on them. Having a look inside is very worth while and you can see some pictures of the interior on their website.
Also, a real hidden gem is St Mary’s Pleasance which most folk are completely unaware of. It’s just past the church and is fantastically peaceful. We didn’t go in so I haven’t got a photo but I’ve spent hours in there before and I even once did some wedding photos using this as a back drop. A very beautiful place.
We began to cycle a bit further out of town and headed along to the weir at the west end of the town. This is a lovely spot and there is a path that essentially runs the whole length of the River Tyne. A boating pontoon has recently been built above the weir and someone’s put a rope swing there. Excellent idea given the recent unbelievable weather.
Crossing over the river at the “white bridge” took us up a path to the Bolton Road and after a short road section we went in to the Lennoxlove Estate. There’s a bit of a network of roads and paths in there so we took the less travelled route heading southwest. The fences are electrified due to the cattle so be careful when crossing the fields. Coming out at the south Gatehouse and taking a left brought us to (in my opinion) the most attractive view of the house. I’ve never been inside Lennoxlove but my wife has on a couple of occasions and says it’s an interesting place to visit.
We headed east from there and cycled up to Seggersdean Farm. Really, I was looking for a good shot of Traprain Law. Alas we had to go a bit further out of town for a decent view of it. We didn’t go up it on the bikes but I walked up it a couple of days ago. It’s a bit of a family favourite and a great place to watch The East Fortune Airshow. The walk is fairly easy but is a bit steep in sections. There are 13 Exmoor ponies that stay on the hill and provide additional interest when you are trying to entice your kids to do something outside. The view from the top is amazing and you can see the whole of East Lothian. I recently took my Canadian cousin to the top and it gave her good perspective on where everything was in the local area.
After that we cycled up to the Balfour Monument. The road up to it isn’t much fun and it’s an 800m section the local Strava users will know well. The view from the monument is really spectacular. It is a great place for a picnic and at night time it’s a good place to photograph stars and the Milky Way.
Thankfully there was a long downhill section next and we cruised over to the Amisfield Walled Garden. I love this place. It was one of the first places my son ever rode his bike (just before needing a poo in the bushes outside. He giveth and then He taketh away). The gardens are run by a team of volunteers and they do a cracking job. There are a massive variety of plants and herbs and the orchard area is lush. It’s also a brilliant place to have a picnic. Currently they are growing a hedge maze but it’s been slow to take and I’ve been able to just step over the hedges for the last couple of years. Perhaps one day it will be more functional.
Our final bit of the adventure took us along the river path. This runs from Haddington all the way to East Linton and you can visit Hailes Castle on the way. It’s very well kept ruin and the kids love it. It can be a bit midge infested as it’s right on the River Tyne but that’s not much of a problem most of the time. The path took us past another weir that I didn’t know existed. Clearly it’s favourite spot of the local kids as there are well worn paths down to it. There was even a pair of googles lying beside it that someone had forgotten to take home. I’m not sure I’d fancy swimming in there but obviously some people do.
The path took us back into Haddington and we parted company. All in all a nice wee magical mystery tour of the “Hidden Toon” and it’s surrounds. I’m sure there are a few things that we missed out but there’s always next weekend…