Aberlady Local Nature Reserve, Aberlady Bay, Aberlady, East Lothian

GULLANE AND ABERLADY BAY

The section of coastline between Gullane and Aberlady is one of the finest in Scotland.

WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: Keith Fergus

Distance: 9.5km/6 miles
Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
OS Landranger: 67
Start/finish point: St Andrew’s Church, Gullane GR NT480826
Terrain: Coastal and countryside paths and tracks 

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A gorgeous sandy beach, backed with wildlife-rich dunes, stretches along Gullane Bay to Gullane Point after which Aberlady Local Nature Reserve is a wildlife-watchers dream. Aberlady Bay is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest, due to the coastline’s flora, fauna and geology, much of which may be seen on this fabulous route.

Begin by facing the remains of St Andrew’s Church on Gullane Main Street. It is thought that a church was first established here during the 800s. Turn left then right onto West Links Road and follow it to its end. Once through a gate beside Gullane No. 1 Golf Course, bear right and climb steeply west up a grassy hill to the corner of a wall. Here pick up an obvious path that rises north, to the left of the wall, to gain the summit of Gullane Hill. The outlook is breathtaking, taking in the Pentland Hills and Edinburgh. Continue across the summit to pick up a track to the right of the 7th tee.

Follow this as it descends west. When the track splits keep right and continue, enjoying a great view of Gullane Bents. When the path forks again keep left, signposted for Gullane Point, and follow a track a short distance to a waymarked path on the right. This proceeds high above the coast, through dune grass, towards Hummell Rocks. At a junction turn right onto a track then, just before a line of World War II concrete block defences, keep right from where a path descends to a sandy beach at Hummell Rocks. Follow the path along the top of the beach, underneath steep dunes, keeping left at the next fork to reach Gullane Point. At a junction go right onto a sandy path which swings left and drops down onto Gullane Sands.

This gorgeous stretch of golden sand heads south, underneath huge, impressive dunes, where there are wonderful views along the coast. After nearly 1km, beside a large wooden stake, turn left from the beach and climb over the dunes into Aberlady Local Nature Reserve. During autumn upwards of 30,000 pink-footed geese fly in from Iceland to feed before moving on during winter. Wheatears, whitethroats, blackcaps, redshank and lapwing may also be seen at different times of the year.

A good track heads east through the reserve. In a while turn right at a crossroads (signed Footpath) and continue south, soon passing through a pocket of woodland. The reserve is eventually left behind via a lovely old wooden bridge to reach the A198. Turn left and follow the John Muir Way beside the A198 for approximately 1.5km. Just before the entrance to Luffness Links Golf Club carefully cross the road and go through a gate. Here the John Muir Way continues towards Gullane along a field-edge path through glorious countryside. Nearing Gullane pass through a gate and keep straight on to Saltcoats Road. Turn left and walk back along Gullane Main Street.

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