Cycle Ride Around East Lothian


I was looking for a nice quiet area to cycle around when friends suggested East Lothian. This is the area to the east of Edinburgh and a popular area.

I arranged to meet friends in Dunbar and travelled from Motherwell on the Cross Country train. The journey was only 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Arriving at Dunbar, I met up with some friends and we started cycling towards the Museum of Flight at East Fortune.

We cycled along the cycle route 76 to East Linton and then continued along the A199 road until we turned right onto the B1347. This road was quite hilly, but we soon had arrived at the National Museum of Flight.

National Museum of Flight

The adult admission was 12 GBP, but as we had arrived by bicycle, it only cost 10.00 GBP. East Fortune is a disused airbase which was established as a fighter and airship airfield in 1915. During the Second World it was used as a flying training establishment. In 1942 it became a station for a group of de Havilland Mosquito aircraft.

Concorde

One of the Concorde supersonic passenger jets is on display in the museum and visitors can enter the plane to view the interior. Concorde was withdrawn from service in 2003 and a few of the planes are on display in various countries around the world.

Concorde
Concorde

The interior of the plane is quite small and the windows were tiny. This was to avoid disaster if a window broke during a flight.

Passenger  jet

There were a number of hangars with different displays including civilian and military aircraft.

Vulcan bomber B.2A as during Falklands War

The above fighter jet was similar to the ones used during the Falklands War in 1982. 

Many of the exhibits are displayed in the buildings on the airbase.It takes a few hours to go round them all, but is very interesting.

After viewing all the displays, we had a light snack in the small cafe before heading for North Berwick. The 4 hours we spent at the museum was very enjoyable and worth visiting again.

Road to North Berwick

The road to North Berwick is very pleasant, as it passes through some beautiful countryside. There were some sharp climbs, but nothing too difficult. In the distance could be seen North Berwick Law, a volcanic plug of hard rock.

Fenton Tower

At Kingston, just outside North Berwick, was Fenton Tower. This is a fortified 16th-century tower and has had many distinguished visitors, among them being King James VI of Scotland (son of Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley) who was surrounded by a rebel army in Fife and took refuge at Fenton Tower. It is currently used as an hotel.

Fenton Tower

Arriving in North Berwick, we saw the remains of the second St Andrew’s Church. This was built in 1664 and was the only church in the town until 1843.

St Andrew’s Church

North Berwick has a lovely beach but as there was a chilly breeze, there was nobody sunbathing on it!

North Berwick Beach
North Berwick Beach

The Seabird Centre organises boat trips to the Bass Rock and Isle of May. We stayed in North Berwick for an hour and a half before heading back to Dunbar.

Returning to Dunbar

We took the coastal A198 road and got some magnificent views of the Firth of Forth. The view of the Bass Rock was excellent at this point.

Bass Rock

Tantallon Castle

Further along the road we saw the ruins of Tantallon Castle. This was a 14th century castle and was the last curtain-wall castle to be built in Scotland. It is managed by Historic Environment Scotland and on our next visit to the area we intend to visit it.

Tantallon Castle

The rest of the ride to Dunbar was relatively uneventful. My train to Edinburgh was departing at 19.45 and we made it to Dunbar in plenty of time to catch it.

Edinburgh 

Although the journey to Dunbar was direct, the return one involved an hour and 10 minute wait at Waverley Station in Edinburgh. As the sun was still shining, I took the opportunity of photographing the castle. Evening is the best time for this, as the sun shines directly on the castle and gives it a warm ‘glow’.
 
Edinburgh Castle.
I also walked about Princes Street and saw the trams. These were brought into service a few years ago, but are state-of-the art.
Edinburgh Tram
I then made my way back to the station and caught my train back to Motherwell. It had been a great day in East Lothian and the weather was great.
 
Further Information:

Scottish Seabird Centre
Historic Environment Scotland

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Holding the Rock for Scotland – Dumbarton Castle

At the weekend Historic Scotland held a re-enactment of the defence of Dumbarton Castle during the Scottish Civil War. It was a cold, wet and windy day, but it was still very entertaining and the Castle was very busy.

 
Dumbarton Castle is situated on an extinct volcano and there are 540 steps to climb to get to the top of it. We did it twice. It is not too difficult for a reasonably fit person.
 
Dumbarton Castle
 
On March 26th,1639 the Covenanters seized Dumbarton Castle. Dumbarton Castle was located on the River Clyde and controlling it would prevent unauthorised access to Glasgow and the West of Scotland.
 
Who Were ‘The Covenanters’?
 
These were the Scottish Presbyterians who in 1638 signed the “National Covenant” to uphold the Presbyterian religion and the “Solemn League and Covenant” of 1643, which was a treaty with the English Parliamentarians.
Covenanters flag
The Covenanters made a stand for political and religious liberty that led to almost a century of persecution and their widespread migration to Ulster and the American colonies.
 
Covenanters used the base of  muskets to attack the enemy
The Covenanters sought to have the church organised as written in the  Scriptures. There was only one Head of the Kirk – Jesus Christ  and they refused to accept the King in that role. Charles I was a Stuart King who believed in the divine right of kings.
Firing muskets
Close-up of an officer refilling his musket with gunpowder
The muskets were filled with gunpowder and lit by a rope soaked in saltpeter. If it was wet, the muskets often misfired. The gunpower was kept in small wooden containers worn on a belt across the body.
 
The Covenanters were not taught swordfighting
The Covenanters were issued with a short sword but were not taught to swordfight. Only gentlemen were taught this. They preferred to use the end of their muskets or a small dagger to attack the enemy.
The officer on the right in the above photograph is a man of substance as he can afford boots. Ordinary soldiers wore shoes instead.
 
Clothing of the Covenanters
The Covenanters wore clothing which they could get a hold of and did not have an official uniform. They mostly wore grey. The gentleman in red is a man of substance as he can afford better quality cloth.
 
A seargent
A seargent could be identified by the long wooded pole he held with a curved dagger at the top. 
 
Blowing the doors of the castle open
Using a charge to open the doors
To open the doors of the castle, a tripod was used to hold a charge which caused a small explosion.
 
Making the lead pellets for the muskets
The Covenanters had a few watchwords including ‘Jesus and no quarter’ and ‘God is with us’.  On entering the Castle we had to say these words.
 
It was a very interesting day and we learned a lot about this important period in Scottish history.
 
Further Information
Grid reference: NS 398 744.

Historic Scotland:

http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index/places/propertyresults/propertyplan.htm?PropID=PL_100&PropName=Dumbarton%20Castle#contact

Covenanters:

Linlithgow Palace – Birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots

I have often passed through Linlithgow on the train when travelling from Glasgow to Edinburgh and decided that it was time to stop at this historic town to visit the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots in Linlithgow Palace.

This impressive building can be seen as the train approaches the station and it is only a short walk from there to the palace. The palace is now a ruin, but is still worth visiting because of its historical significance. It is managed by Historic Scotland, a government body. At the height of its splendour, the palace was one of the finest in Europe.
St Michael’s Church Spire
The modern main entrance was built for King James V around 1535 and
gave access to the ‘peel’ or outer enclosure surrounding the palace. Above the
arch are carved the arms of the four European Orders of Chivalry to which James V belonged: the Garter, bestowed by his uncle Henry VIII of England, the Thistle, which James himself founded, the Golden Fleece, given him by the Emperor Charles V and St Michael by Francis I of France. 
Next to the entrance is St Michael’s Church, which was used as a place of worship by Scottish Kings and Queens. Mary Queen of Scots was baptised there. The aluminium crown at the top of the tower was built in 1964 and represents the crown of thorns placed on the head of Christ by the Roman soldiers just before his crucifixion.
More on Linlithgow Palace can be read at: