Scottish Coast • Day 4 • Cockburnspath to Dunbar

Cockburnspath to Dunbar
Saturday 4 September 2021
19km • 4h 30m (including breaks)
lowest: -2m • highest: 85m • total ascent 492m

See the recorded route on OS Maps

On this day, I was low-level hungover and it was very wet when I expected it not to be. (Erm. Have I forgotten where I live?) But I managed to get up and get a bus to the start when I said I would, and I liked this section anyway. Sometimes a walk in slightly angsty looking weather is what a mild hangover calls for. And I had coffee, so, everything was fine.

The walk started with a very green, woodsy bit to get around over the river and back out to the coast, then along some farm cliffs to the beach leading up to Torness power station. You’d think walking around a massive nuclear power plant might not be pleasant in comparison to previous, less industrial scenes, but it’s so strange and moody, and the weather was perfect for it. I loved it.

This was the second time I took the gamble of not bringing my waterproof trousers and I can tell you it will also be the last. I will carry the weight even if the blazing sunshine looks like it will not quit, because being soggy from the waist down is really not a way to live. That whole ‘no bad weather just the wrong clothes’ thing is usually true.

Thankfully the sun did come out eventually. I had nearly given in to the idea that I would have to sit in the rain and eat my sandwich. But as I got up to the Barns Ness lighthouse, the rain stopped spraying me from all directions and I perched on my sitting pad – which is like carrying a square of underfloor heating with you, and possibly the best bit of luxury gear I have (an amazing gift from Holly) – and ate in the dry air on my dry seat.

My trousers dried relatively quickly. My socks, however, did not follow. This is the problem with waterproof shoes. If the water gets in, it is not getting out. When I finished the walk my feet looked like they’d been soaking in a bath for days. But from this point on, aside from my feet, it was a drier walk.

And now lets talk about the ever-present coastal golf courses again. Because cows are scary in an I-can-see-the-giant-and-potentially-terrifyingly-cranky-animal-so-at-least-I-know-it’s-coming sort of way. But golf courses mean a ball could smack you in the head from any direction at any time and you probably won’t see it because it’s a golf ball coming from a sky that, on many occasions, is roughly the same colour as itself.

Walkers are meant to let golfers play through in front of them, but this is basically impossible when the course is busy. And there are people playing in all directions, so you basically end up looking all directions all the time and trying to hear if anyone shouted a warning over the wind. I guess the golfers have to do this too, but it’s quite nerve-wracking. And too bad because the little beaches running alongside the course on the way into Dunbar here were pretty nice. But I wasn’t paying attention to them. I was busy making sure I didn’t get picked off.

Once I managed that, I stuck to the beaches as long as possible until I was pretty much in the centre of Dunbar. There was a music festival going on, and Neil, who I used to work with, told me to stop by the gig he was stewarding to say hello. It’s always very nice to see a friendly face at the end of a walk. And it’s too bad I didn’t arrive earlier and bring some friends, because the band playing at the Battery was called Cow Cow Boogie, and they were absolutely danceable. It was really lovely to see some live music again for the first time in ages though, even if it was just a song or two. Thanks Neil!

Afterwards I took my soggy feet to Haddington where Valerie, who’d been doing a different walk, was stopping for tea at George and Migle’s. We sat in front of their new woodburner and ate a mound of Indian takeaway before heading back to Edinburgh. A very elaborate and extensive hangover cure of a day. I highly recommend it.

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