As a family we have visited Dunbar regularly and as our kids have grown up we have found a never ending supply of activities to keep everyone busy during the holidays.
Aside from the usual (dog) walks and cycle trips our family have ticked off almost everything on the sixty things list over the last 16 years.
With a young family ….
Pottering around the beaches of Dunbar; the vast expanse of Belhaven and the more interesting sand / rock beach of East Beach, we have made all sorts of sand creations and observed all manner of sea-life in the rock pools. We have bodysurfed and then progressed to surfing at Belhaven Bay – this enormous beach is not overlooked by any developments so it is easy to forget urban life. We often share our activities with amazing sea birds (wow! at the diving gannets), and on occasion we have seen dolphins in the bay.
Dunbar’s amazing harbours are always alive with activity and it is fascinating to watch fishermen and sailers preparing their boats, fixing nets or offloading catches. Regular visitors to the harbour also include a few seals who pester the fishermen for scraps! The harbour has over the years become a hub for coastal rowers, kayakers, SUP boarders and divers as they head out to explore the coastline. There is also a company offering boat tours as far as the Isle of May and boats offering recreational fishing trips.
Some of the best views of the North Sea and Firth of Forth can be seen from the Battery and on stormy days the waves crash over the sea walls and give everyone underneath a good spray. The Battery features a simple but stunning outdoor theatre space – great for events. The harbour is overlooked by the ruins of Dunbar Castle – still intimidating but now a home for nesting Kittiewakes in the spring and summer months.
One of the best activities for younger children has to be the excellent East Links Family Park just outside Dunbar – stuffed full of animals, go carts, a train and a fantastic castle – it is a full day out. Next to the Family Park a fairly new attraction is John Muir Alpacas – a woodland walk with these beautiful creatures is a unique experience and will charm all visitors.
Dunbar is the sunniest spot in Scotland, it is not often that it rains but if it does indoor fun can be found at the best swimming pool in East Lothian with its fantastic wave machine and flume as well as views to the Bass Rock and across the North Sea from the cafe. There is also a large soft play centre on Spott Road, useful also if the adults run out of batteries. Another great outdoor play space is in Lauderdale Park just behind the High Street – a perfect combination of cafe and play equipment for all ages.
Now onto the exhilarating stuff!
As mentioned, Belhaven Bay is a great spot for surfing with its own surf school (Coast to Coast), which also offers coasteering and Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boarding lessons and hire. From the surf school it is a short walk onto the sands across Dunbar’s Bridge to Nowhere (look up the pictures!)
Just along from Belhaven is Foxlake Adventures which has a string of activities to keep families entertained. Foxlake began as a wakeboarding park and activities around the lake have expanded to include zip-lining, an over water obstacle course (Foxfall – it’s all in the name), as well as Segway tours. A great cafe here means it is also popular with walkers and cyclists who travel the John Muir Way – more about him later! Alongside Foxlake is Reboot Disc Golf, exactly as you imagine but more challenging as it is set amongst woodland and adds an edge to family competitions. Another attraction here is the outdoor fitness venue of East Rocks – a tranquil location for improving fitness in a uniquely supportive programme.
A short trip from Dunbar there are lots more adrenaline rushes to be had whether flying in a microlight, kitesurfing, 4 x 4 driving or horse riding along the coast by Tantallon Castle. All of these are listed on 60thingsdunbar.scot – there is no shortage of ways to fill your days in and around Dunbar.
To rest after all this activity head to Dunbar’s historic High Street which has a perfect collection of independent shops. Also on the High Street is the Town House Museum with its regular exhibitions and events as well as the acclaimed John Muir’s Birthplace Museum – born in Dunbar in 1848 John Muir found fame in America as a pioneering naturalist and environmental philosopher. Worth reading up on! There is also an Andy Scott sculpture, affectionately known as the “Dunbear”, to commemorate John Muir on the outskirts of town.
Dunbar is a large town and has plenty of cafes and restaurants (many are based in hotels), an excellent tennis club and putting green are open to visitors and there are two golf courses, one of which is of qualifying standard. We started this blog with a quick mention of walking and cycling and Dunbar offers a great range of routes which include historic sites, the Lammermuir hills to the south, beautiful beaches and dramatic cliffs.
What an exhaustive list – maybe not to do in one holiday but hopefully enough for you to keep coming back!