The great Gullane escape

I’ve done it! I escaped the estate! I know I said that before, but this time, I went far, far away. And I went in a car! It was… amazing!

Keen readers will know that I have been (mostly) isolating on my rural country estate for more than four months now (128 days, to be exact). And whilst I have been wandering further and further from home over the past 3-4 weeks, I have only gone as far as my legs could carry me. And that means that I have only gone as fast as my legs could carry me.

But today, my friend came to collect me in his car to drive me to a beach about 30 minutes from my cottage. It was my first time in a vehicle in those 128 days and it was wonderful! It was quite odd and slightly exhilarating as we pulled onto the roadway and gained speed. I could feel the sensation of the speed, even when we were only going 25 miles per hour. And once we got onto the bypass and the scenery was jetting by so quickly, I couldn’t help by smile at the freedom such speed marked.

The decision to get in a car and leave my Zone of Safety wasn’t made lightly. But the changing nature of Scotland’s infection rates (for the better) means that shielding people are being given a bit more leeway right now. And my friend has been well-behaved when he’s been out in public (masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds, etc) so I felt safe in the confines of his car (with air circulating).

It also helped that the destination was chosen for the variety of relatively people-free beaches for us to explore. And if you know me, you know I really like to explore!

So, where did I escape to? To a stretch of beaches near Gullane in East Lothian.

We arrived a little after 9 am and spent about 6 hours walking along the beach from Gullane to Yellowcraigs then back through the dunes and wooded areas just beyond the beach. I had never been to this bit of East Lothian before (but I was close for my 42nd birthday!) so it was a real treat for me – not just because I was experiencing life off of the estate for the first time, but because I was experiencing new scenery, which I always like!

The beach at Gullane is a people beach. You know, the kind of lovely sand near a car park that people just sit on to soak up the sun, barbeque, or otherwise just exist. But that’s not the kind of beach we were after, so we just enjoyed the views (before the people arrived!) and carried on towards the east where the “interesting” bays and beaches lay.

One of the first interesting things along the walk was the ruins of Red House at Jamie’s Neuk near Black Rocks. We spent a bit of time exploring in the nearby trees for the ruins of the old chapel, too, until we realised that it was reburied after the archaeological dig. That was a disappointment, but at least it meant exploring the woods a bit!

Well, I say that was one of the first interesting things, but on the way there we saw so many amazing things. Like several quite large sets of whelk eggs and loads and loads of vibrant and interesting tide pools. And rocks and shells and wildlife and flowers and… well, you get the point!

For lunch, we stopped off at Cheese Bay where we enjoyed the views as we ate our sandwiches. I quite enjoyed the bay, in part because of the name. Apparently, it was named for a cheese-filled shipwreck nearby. But I couldn’t help but notice the yellow-ish colour of the rocks, and the slightly squared shape that many of them were in.

After lunch, we carried on to Yellowcraigs, collecting a geocache along the way, before making the return via the dunes and woods. It was a wonderful way to see not only the beach but the sea-adjacent flora and fauna.

By the time we got back to the people beach, it was quite crowded, and the car park was full. It was quite a contrast to the nearly empty rugged beaches and bays that we were exploring. But I suppose that everyone has their own ideas of the best way to unwind at the weekend.

It took us about 6 hours to cover approximately 7 miles of beach and dunes. Which, even when accounting for a lunch break, is rather slow. But that’s because we weren’t just walking, we were exploring! And thankfully, my adventure partner was more than happy for me to stop and take photos of everything along the way.

I found myself a little nervous when we returned to the starting point because of the substantial number of people and I worry that I will be even more nervous when and if I ever go into an enclosed public space. But I was pleased to see that (most) people were doing their best to use social distancing practices. So maybe it won’t be so bad when I’m ready to re-integrate into society a bit more. (But I’m not ready for that yet!)

Still… I really enjoyed my escape from my confines in the countryside and I can’t wait for the next adventure away.

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