Tantallon Castle and North Berwick

Last weekend, the in-laws (2b) were in town visiting so after a lot of wedding-related activities on Saturday we decided to take advantage of the rented car and explore around Edinburgh on Sunday. The chosen destination for the day was North Berwick.

Before arriving to the idyllic coastal town (N. Berwick) we visited Tantallon Castle. Since we moved to Scotland I’ve been lucky enough to see several castles and semi-ruined fortress and so far, Tantallon is my favorite. I can’t tell if it was the gorgeous location with steep cliffs and overlooking the Bass Rock or if they were the very impressive, thick and extremely high stone walls.

Bass Rock[The Bass Rock has been described as 
"One of the Twelve Wildlife Wonders of the World”]

Tantallon Castle was built in the 1350s by William Douglas. The Douglas family would split in two branches in the 1380s and Tantallon became a stronghold to one of the most powerful baronial families in Scotland; the Red Douglases, the Earls of Angus (which often clashed with the Crown).

I really liked Tantallon because of its unique construction. The defenses are “only” a single wall that secures a coastal promontory. This amazing wall, was responsible for the castle enduring three great sieges. The last one was in 1651 by Oliver Cromwell’s army when his “modern” gunpowdered artillery destroyed the castle.

Tantallon's curtain wall[The “curtain wall” seen from the inside;
more than 15 meters high, about 3.5 meters thick, and around 90 meters long.]

After the castle, we went for lunch to North Berwick, a lovely seaside town. Although the day started very sunny, by the time we were dine with lunch, some big grey clouds were taking over the sky and we chilly winds were blowing in so we couldn’t enjoy a walk in any of the two sandy bays but these beaches made North Berwick a very fashionable holiday resort in the 19th century.

Vintage North Berwick[Just 40 minutes from Haymarket!]

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Bass Rock is very close to North Berwick. This volcanic island is the home to approximately 10% of the world population of North Atlantic gannets and therefore, one of The Scottish Seabird Centre main assets. The SSC is located at the Harbour and it is the perfect for the little ones of the family or any bird lover. The visitor center has lots of interactive live cameras that allow a non-invasive but very-close look.

Besides the Scottish Seabird Centre (and the beaches) one of the main attractions is the “North Berwick Law”. We could say it is a hill but I personally consider hills to be something small and in spite of the Law being only 187m high, it looks very impressive and seems quite big as there is nothing but flat-country-side around it. Although we didn’t climb it, there is a whale’s jawbone arch at the summit. Well, more or less. The original collapsed in 2005, and what you can find now is a fiberglass replica. If you make it to the summit you are supposed to be able to enjoy stunning views of Edinburgh Castle, the Forth Road Bridge, and Fife’s coastline. As I said, it was starting to get dark, cloudy and cold so maybe I’ll consider it next time. After the lovely day-trip I will certainly add North Berwick and Tantallon Castle to my insider/local-tips list.

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