On the eastern edge of Edinburgh – Scotland's culinary capital – you'll find the picturesque county of East Lothian with equally impressive gourmet credentials. Think seaside towns where fishermen land their catch in the harbours, local chefs cook fish fresh from the boats and you can tuck into a traditional fish and chip supper on the waterfront. The rolling countryside is a patchwork of wheat and barley fields – and farm shops – while in historic country towns you can graze your way around farmers' markets and artisan food stores. There are distilleries offering tastings and tours and a host of cosy boutique hotels and restaurants with rooms where you can hole up for a foodie stay.


Please check government guidance before travelling. For practical information, head to VisitScotland for the latest travel advice.

For family fun

Lobster Shack box

Nothing says seaside like sand between your toes, an ice cream on the shore and fish and chips on a lobster pot-dotted harbour. The beautiful coastal town of North Berwick dishes up all the holiday staples - on the menu and off. Perched on a promontory, where the North Sea meets the Firth of Forth, it was once a glamorous resort, nicknamed the Biarritz of the North.

Today, it's more low-key charm – think narrow streets lined with artisan food stores such as Bostock Bakery, a butchers, Anderson's, famous for its pies and old-fashioned sweet shop, The Sugar Mountain, with jars of bon-bons, Scottish tablet (crumbly fudge), sticks of rock and tubs of retro rum'n'raisin and mint choc chip ice cream, as well as an award-winning gelato-maker. Alandas ice cream parlour offers decadent flavours such as Scottish whisky caramel along with Belgian milk chocolate in a crispy waffle cone.

There are two sandcastle-dotted beaches, a cute harbour bobbing with boats and the award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre with live webcams, boat trips out to the Bass Rock, a volcanic island off the coast home to the world's largest northern gannet colony and a café with a large sun deck and menu focusing on fresh, local produce.

This is classic bucket-and-spade territory with plenty to entertain children - and adults. And as well as traditional fish and chips, there's gourmet seafood at The Lobster Shack on the harbour. Owners Jela and Stirling Stewart are committed to a 'local and sustainable' ethos – the fish straight off the boats is cooked fresh to order – and served with wine, beer and bubbles. Think grilled North Berwick lobster with garlic butter and double-dipped chips.

Just a 10-minute drive away Whitekirk Hill is a family-friendly development of luxury eco lodges converted from an old golf club. There's a play barn for children, spa for adults and a sleek, contemporary café, The Walled Terrace and Orangery, with an outside fire pit for brunch and lunch. Lodges sleeping four start from £963 for a three-night weekend break.

For a romantic getaway

Tantallon Castle: credit Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam

What could be more romantic than wild, windswept walks along deserted beaches and clifftops scattered with ruined castles? The broad sweep of Belhaven Bay, within the John Muir Country Park near Dunbar, is one of the dreamiest. Just a few miles south of North Berwick, Seacliff is a 'secret' cove surrounded by cliffs with a tiny harbour carved from the rocks. Tantallon Castle teeters high above, while another ruined castle, Auldhame, sits on the headland to the west. The burnt-out ruin of a 19th-century mansion, Seacliff House, brings the tally of romantic ruins to three.

Sprinkled along East Lothian's coastline you'll find sumptuous hotels and cosy inns such as Greywalls, an elegant country house hotel. Designed by Edwardian architect Edward Lutyens in 1901, it features log fires, a Chez Roux restaurant (think rabbit ballotine with pear and saffron chutney) and heavenly-scented Gertrude Jekyll-designed walled garden. (Double rooms from £325 B&B)

In the Victorian villa-peppered village of Gullane, The Bonnie Badger, is a gourmet gastropub with rooms owned by Edinburgh chef Tom Kitchin and his wife Michaela. The 12 rooms including cosy lofts and a master suite are spread through the main house and Hazel and Honeysuckle cottages. Think freestanding tubs for a long, lingering soak, original fireplaces, dark moody paintwork and eclectic design pieces. Choose between beds hunkering beneath rafters or a slender slim-line four-poster.

After a romantic stroll along Gullane beach, you can hole up in the bar with a champagne cocktail or local Fidra G&T, or head outside to tuck into the seasonal garden menu (in winter you can wrap up in blankets beside the fire with a signature mulled wine). In the bar and the Stables restaurant, the menus reflect Kitchin's nature to plate philosophy and focus on seasonal, local produce (the kitchen team also forages locally for sea herbs and mushrooms in season). Think starters such as seaweed-cured salmon, pickled fennel, soy jelly wasabi and avocado purée – or that traditional aphrodisiac Loch Fyne oysters with shallot vinegar.

For local experiences

Bread on market stall

You can't beat mooching around a farmers' market, chatting to local producers and grazing from stall to stall. Inland, the historic town of Haddington with its handful of specialist food stores such as The Cheese Lady was one of Scotland's first markets to be established back in 2000.

The market is still held on the last Saturday of every month and showcases small-scale artisan growers and producers. Stock up on Ballencrieff Rare Breed Pigs' 18 types of pork sausage as well as smoked trout, salmon and Lammermuir cheese from the Belhaven Smokehouse in Dunbar, jams and jellies (Jumbleberry is a medley of strawberry, raspberry, brambles, blackcurrants, redcurrants and cherries) from For the Love of Jam, The Spice Witch's award-winning chutneys and relishes and craft beer from local Winton Brewery.

East Lothian's fertile farmland is also liberally sprinkled with farm shops such as the Brand Family farm shop, Fenton Barns and The Strawberry Barn, a farm shop, café and fruit farm where you can pick your own during the summer.

Then, bed down for the night on a working farm. Carfrae Farm is an 830-acre arable farm growing wheat, barley, oats, oil seed rape and peas, which has been in the Gibson family since 1933. They have a handful of luxurious self-catering properties and also offer farm tours, bushcraft and foraging activities. (From £230 per night for a cottage sleeping four).

Scoughall Farm, another arable farm on the coast has a handful of cute cottages just a short stroll from the beach, all sleeping five and costing from £400 per week.

For gin and whisky connoisseurs

Glenkinchie distillery entrance

East Lothian might have just one whisky distillery, but after a multi-million pound revamp it's got sleek, state-of-the-art wow factor. Glenkinchie is one of Diageo's Four Corners of Scotland distilleries, described as the 'Lowland home of Johnnie Walker' and the whisky produced here has notes of nutty cereal, summer grass and sweetly scented flowers.

The Victorian distillery is surrounded by landscaped gardens just outside the pretty village of Pencaitland just 15 miles from Edinburgh and also has stellar green credentials. As well as a zero waste-to-landfill policy, they have installed beehives, bug boxes and the planting is designed to encourage pollination. There is also a shuttle bus to Edinburgh run on bio-fuel – handy if you want to take the Whisky in the Wild Tour with a visit to the Kinchie burn and the distillery's orchards, or the Flowers & Cocktails class for a spot of botanical mixology where you will use fresh flowers and herbs to garnish the cocktails you create.

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Buck & Birch meanwhile, set up by foraging, fermenting and wild dining events duo Rupert Waites and Tom Chisholm not only produces a range of liqueurs, spirits and bottled cocktails but offers wild distillery tasting experiences and birch-tapping workshops in season.

Gin connoisseurs should head to family-owned NB Distillery near North Berwick, which produces gin, vodka and rum in the smart, purpose-built distillery and offers tastings and tours (£25, lasting 90 minutes). You can also enjoy North Berwick gin in the cocktails created by gastropub The Crown & Kitchen in East Linton. The C&K Seasonal Swizzle is a heady concoction tweaked every month with homemade syrup made using seasonal ingredients from the local area, North Berwick Gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice and soda water. Stay at the nearby award-winning Linton Hotel with views over the countryside and B&B from £90.

Visit East Lothian for even more travel inspiration.


Please check government guidance before travelling. For practical information, head to VisitScotland for the latest travel advice.

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