The Best Outdoor Activities Near Edinburgh
Scotland is one of the worlds great outdoor adventure destinations, and Edinburgh is its magnificent capital city.
Edinburgh is easy to access by road, rail, and air, and makes a fantastic short break and weekend get away destination. It’s a beautiful and incredibly walkable city brimming with history and culture. You might never want to leave! But if outdoor adventure is your thing, well you have come to the right place!
Outdoor Adventure in Scotland
Scotland is world renowned for its mountains and wild remote landscapes. Its 282 Munros [mountains over 3000 feet] attract hillwalkers and mountaineers from across the world, and with over 6000 miles of rugged coastline visitors are spoiled for water-based adventures.
But of course, you don’t have to travel for 6 hours to experience adventure in the wilds of Scotland. Edinburgh has the most spectacular adventures on its doorstep. Indeed, a 40-minute trip will get you into the most wild and beautiful coastline, with castles, wind-swept sandy beaches, and rugged rocky headlands.
Outdoor Adventure in East Lothian
The county of East Lothian sits to the east of Edinburgh and boasts miles of unspoiled coastline, inland forests and moorland, beautiful towns and villages and multiple outdoor adventure activities. And it’s also super accessible from Edinburgh by road and rail.
A 30-minute train ride from Edinburgh’s Waverly Station will get you to the beautiful Victorian seaside town of North Berwick. And just 20 minutes will get you to the historic town of Dunbar, birthplace of John Muir, the father of Americas national parks, and one of the world’s greatest conservationists. Both towns are great springboards for outdoor adventures in East Lothian.
There are three main water-based adventure activities on the coastline of East Lothian: Paddle boarding [SUP], coasteering and surfing. Let’s get your adventure started and explore how and where to experience these great water sports!
The Best Paddle Boarding [SUP] Near Edinburgh
Paddle boarding is a fantastic way to experience your natural environment, with a totally new perspective: its like walking on water! It’s an amazing way to explore the rugged coastline of East Lothian, where you can expect to see wildlife such as puffins, gannets, seals and even the occasional dolphin!
Paddle boarding is also influenced by the weather conditions: wind and waves are not its friend! That’s why Ocean Vertical offer multiple paddle boarding venues in East Lothian.
On the coast we explore from Dunbar to Seacliff Beach, North Berwick and Gullane Bay. We also do paddle boarding island tours to Fidra, which means “feather island”. The island is owned by the RSPB and is a designated reserve.
And if it’s too choppy out there, we have the option of two beautiful and secluded inland lochs, surrounded by trees, wildlife, and nature. These are protected from the wind and in the most peaceful rural countryside.
We offer different skill levels of paddle boarding too, so if its your first time, or you are a seasoned paddle boarder, we have great options for you.
The Best Coasteering Near Edinburgh
What is coasteering?
Its like mountaineering, except its done at low tide on the rugged coastline within the intertidal zone: it involves climbing, swimming, scrambling and jumping, as the group move through exposed tidal islands, tidal pools and spill overs, swell, and the ebb and flow of the ocean. There really is nothing like it!
Ocean Vertical run coasteering sessions in East Lothian from April to November. The sessions start at our beautiful Victorian base at Hedderwick hill Stables where you will meet your guides and get kitted up. From here it’s a short drive in our vehicle to the coasteering venue.
What can you expect coasteering with Ocean Vertical?
A completely unique experience in a marine environment wilderness. The wildlife both above and below the waves is incredible. From puffins and gannets overhead, to seals and starfish and sea urchins below.
Our coasteering guides are passionate about the ocean, so as well as jumping, swimming and scrambling, you will learn about the micro marine environment, kelps and sea weeds, and the creatures that call this place home.
The Best Surfing Near Edinburgh
That’s right, there are great surfing spots just a stone’s throw from the centre of Edinburgh. Belhaven Bay Beach, Coldingham Bay and Pease Bay are awesome surf spots, and you can expect excellent and consistent waves and breaks throughout the autumn and winter months.
Ocean Vertical offer surf lessons on Belhaven Bay Beach throughout the year. This is a few minutes from our base at Hedderwick Hill Stables. We keep our group sizes small [no more than 6], so everyone can benefit from great coaching. And we will provide everything you need, including hot drinks and chocolate biscuits post surf back at our base!
Please scroll on Folks!
The Best Bike Tours Near Edinburgh
Ezee Riders are based just outside North Berwick and offer e-bike sales, hire and tours. We did one of the tours recently and it was an absolutely epic way to see miles and miles of stunning East Lothian coastline. There's just no way you could do this on foot, and you would need to be an athlete to cover this ground on a traditional bike.
We experienced Seacliff Beach, Ravensheugh Sands, Tyninghame and endless miles of beautiful woods and hidden tracks. We stopped regularly for food top ups and to explore rocky bays and sandy beaches. Our guide Tina was super enthusiastic and knowledgeable.
Ezee Riders even do a e-bike food tour travelling around rural east Lothian, and visiting a series of delightful cafes, coffee shops and bakeries. Just magnificent!
The Best Food and Accommodation in East Lothian
Of course, if you are going to be venturing into East Lothian for a few days you may well be looking for accommodation and a great place to grab coffee and a bite to eat. You will be spoiled for choice.
East Lothian is well known for its independent coffee houses such as Steampunk and wonderful seafood, particularly lobster. There's no better place to get lobster than straight off the boat at Dunbar harbour from Belhaven Lobster, a local family business with strong environmental and sustainable principals.
We must mention Bostock Bakery too. They are based in North Berwick and East Linton and take bakery to a whole new level – you won’t be disappointed!
The Best Places to Stay in East Lothian
East Lothian is of course full of multiple costal accommodation options, from the grand Marine North Berwick hotel to the spectacular lodges at Whitekirk Hill, and luxury self-catering at Williamstone Farm Steadings. And then there's The Dolphin Inn in Dunbar, which is perfect for outdoor holidays, and has a great retro vintage vibe!
However, we are going to move away from the coastline and look at the lesser known but simply magnificent Papple Steading. If you are looking for something very special, there really is no better place in Scotland. Indeed, this is where Hugh Grant chooses to stay on his Scottish escapes!
Papple Steading is in tranquil East Lothian countryside, yet is only 10 minutes’ drive off the A1 by East Linton. Papple Steading is an exclusive retreat offering premium accommodation for up to 20 guests, and corporate venue hire.
Papple is really in two parts: a magnificent Victorian farm steading, and the adjacent beautiful farmhouse. Grieve’s Cottage, Ploughman’s and Shepherd’s Bothy, featured in The Times 25 most stylish bothies in Scotland!
Papple Steading offers a very different experience. It is an immaculately restored historic farm set in the beautiful East Lothian countryside in the foothills of the Lammermuir Hills. The farm was part of the Balfour Whittingehame Estate. The ruins of Papple Tower bestow a sense of seclusion and peace in this exclusive location.
The accommodation is luxurious and of consistent high quality across the four adjoining properties. A leased line ultra-high speed internet service is distributed to every room.
Not only is there a newly developing forest garden in the grounds but wild meadows feature around the properties and a few minutes walk from the Steading there is one of the largest wildflower meadows in East Lothian; running along the banks of the Papana water.
Seapink Cottage by Seacliff Beach
Seacliff Beach must be one of the most beautiful and special in Scotland. Located a few miles east of North Berwick, its sandy shores look out onto the Bass Rock, and nestled into its western edge is “the smallest harbour in the UK”. The best way to spend quality family time at Seacliff is to book into Seapink!
Seapink Cottage is in woodland a few minutes’ walk from Seacliff Beach. The 4-bedroom cottage is charming and rustic with open fire and log burning stove, perfect for those cosy winter escapes and lazy summer beach days.
There's plenty outdoor space for BBQs, evening drinks and four legged friends are welcome!
The Best Places to Eat in East Lothian
If you are every staying at Papple Steading you must and have dinner and drinks served by the totally unique Buck and Birch.
Their food and drinks are all locally sourced and seasonal - and we guarantee you you will never have experienced anything like it! Breathtaking culinary creativity at its finest!
For our second option we are heading back to the coast to the café with the best view in Scotland! Drift is located just to the east of North Berwick on cliff tops looking out across the Firth of Forth with the iconic Bass Rock directly Infront of it – the views are breath-taking.
The owners of Drift, local farmers Stuart and Jo, have put a huge amount of effort into the design of their clifftop café [made from re purposed shipping containers!], with huge windows framing the ocean views. The interior is beautifully designed, and the menu is full of lovely local produce. A trip to Drift really is a must!
And if you are escaping for an adventure stay in East Lothian, why not keep it local and have your wine delivered to your door by Wine Wednesdays North Berwick.
Catherine has 30 years of experience working in the wine trade around the world, and will deliver great value mixed cases to your door anywhere in East Lothian! [And beyond]. You can get in touch here Wine Wednesdays North Berwick.
The Ocean Vertical team are here to help in any way we can. We welcome you to visit us at Hedderwick Hill Stables in East Lothian for coffee and a chat anytime.
From individuals to corporate groups and teams, we have adventures large and small - locally, to the Scottish Highlands, and to the distant wilderness of Nepal!
Welcome to Adventure.