Saturday 29 August 2009

The secret beach

I received the latest Scotland The Best book on Father's Day and have only recently dipped into it. I came across an entry for a beach in East Lothian that had hitherto escaped my notice despite us having driven by the road end many times over the years. So, today, to curtail the boys' whingeing for telly first thing, we packed a picnic and headed out towards North Berwick, via my preferred approach through Whitekirk. Sure enough, we soon came to the turn-off, paid our money at the barrier and trundled down a rather rutted and narrow track through fairly dense undergrowth and a short ravine. We were able to park the car and made our way through more high grass and bushes until Bass Rock and the beach were revealed to us (see picture).

Wow! It was a bit breezy but the beach has some degree of shelter from the prevailing wind and is a marvellous crescent of orangey sand obviously ground out from the red sandstone cliffs and rocks bounding the bay. Angus was struggling to catch his breath in the wind and Sharon was rather chilly as she sat to feed him, but the bigger boys were soon off playing in the sand and exploring and paddling in the rock pools. Lunch was a bit of a challenge as we were getting strafed by fusillades of grains as the wind gusted but afterwards Sharon took the boys down for paddle in the sea while I sat by the dozing Angus. There can only have been about thirty people at most while we were there although there were a few more cars present in the car park when we left. I wonder how busy it gets in high summer. It really was the sort of beach you'd expect to find on a Hebridean island, pristine under a royal blue sky with an ultramarine surf rolling in. Given that I've always felt there are a shortage of decent beaches this side of the country, it is a real find. It's still a good 40 minutes' drive from Edinburgh though.

Since Angus was due a feed, we made the short trip to Tantallon Castle. It's been a while since we've been at a castle and Sean and Finn led the way in exploring the stairwells and nooks and crannies, with Rowan eager to clamber up after them. There was a fair wind blowing up on the ramparts however. I wouldn't have fancied being on lookout duty! After exploring the pit prison, shouting down the well and suffering Sean's usual sulk because he didn't get to buy anything at the shop, the boys were very tired and slept on the way back. We stopped at the Melville Inn for dinner to round off a fine family day. It almost felt like the first time Sharon had really joined us on a day trip for some time, given how she was incapacitated in the months leading up to the birth and her subsequent infections. She feels much fitter now and really enjoyed having the energy to play with the boys at the beach.

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