North Berwick is an attractive seaside resort and harbour town located on the south side of the Firth of Forth where it meets the North Sea. Accessible by a frequent rail service from Edinburgh, its fortunes have blossomed with those of the capital city.
North Berwick's core lies around its harbour, built into a rocky promontory projecting between the town's sandy bays. There has been a harbour of sorts in North Berwick from at least the 1100s and for the following 500 years this was the location of a ferry crossing to Earlsferry, near Elie, in Fife. A steady stream of pilgrims to St Andrews took advantage of a crossing that dramatically shortened their journey.
Today, North Berwick's harbour is home to the East Lothian Yacht Club, based in one of the converted warehouses that do so much to add character to the harbour area. Just around the corner to the east, the superb Scottish Seabird Centre is located in a beautifully designed building. This offers a range of activities largely focused on the bird life so abundant on Bass Rock, visible offshore to the north-east and other islands in the Firth of Forth: it also offers boat trips. (Continues below image...)
Nearby are the remains of St Andrew's Old Kirk, much of which was swept into the sea in 1656. It was replaced by the Parish Kirk in Kirk Ports, which itself fell into disuse after a third parish church dedicated to St Andrew was built on the High Street in 1883. There are also churches of other denominations in North Berwick, including a Baptist Church and St Baldred's Church, the latter being found not far from the railway station.
North Berwick grew as a resort in the latter half of the 1800s largely because of its two sandy bays. North Berwick Bay lies to the west of the harbour, while Milsey Bay lies to its east. The latter offers a tide-filled shoreside swimming pool for the hardy on this north-facing coast, and both bays are backed by imposing Victorian villas on, respectively, Beach Road and Marine Parade.
The town's main shopping street, High Street, runs parallel to North Berwick Bay, but one street inland from it. This narrow street tends to be overrun by cars, and the even narrower pavements by pedestrians dodging cars, but if you can see beyond the immediate bustle you find a remarkably attractive and well preserved street with some unusual shops.
North Berwick is overshadowed by North Berwick Law, a 187m or 613ft lump of volcanic rock located just to the south of the town. This is visible for many miles in every direction: and for the active it offers views just as rewarding in return.
The town is an ideal base for touring an area packed full of interest. A couple of miles east is the magnificent Tantallon Castle, built across a neck of land and guarded on three sides by sheer cliffs. Much less well known is the beach and tiny harbour at Seacliff, within sight of Tantallon. Four miles south of North Berwick, at the old military airfield of East Fortune, is the National Museum of Flight, part of National Museums Scotland and home to a large number of aircraft on display, including a Concorde transported here by barge from London following the type's retirement from service.