Visit East Lothian…by Public Transport!

I love East Lothian but there are parts of the county I haven’t visited because I don’t have a car and public transport can be patchy.

Recently, I was in Waverley station and noticed a Visit East Lothian banner prominently displayed at Platform 4 and I found myself pondering how many visitors to Edinburgh take the train east.

Visit East Lothian has recently produced a TV advert showcasing the county’s attractions – but how easy are they to get to on bus or train?

First to appear in the STV advert is Foxlake Adventures which looks brilliant fun but I haven’t been as I’ve always presumed it would be difficult for me to get to.  The Foxlake website has detailed instructions for reaching the award-winning activity centre by road but no mention of public transport.  So, imagining I’m a car-less visitor to Edinburgh, how do I get there?

The quickest way is to get a train to Dunbar (20 mins), walk to the bus stop, get an Eve’s Coaches 120 bus (10mins) ask the driver to let you off opposite Tynefield and walk the remaining 6 minutes.  Alternatively, you can get the Perryman’s 253 service all the way from Edinburgh and as before, getting off at Tynefield and walking.  VERDICT: Let the train take the strain.

Next up is the John Gray Centre, Haddington, home to a library, museum and the Council archives.  The website has a helpful How to find us page which lists ‘by car’ first, then public transport and finally, cycling.

For the quickest journey, take the Perryman’s 253 (39 minutes).  Alternatively you could take the Lothian Country Bus 104 (51 minutes).  FirstBus currently run both the X8 and X6 services but are scheduled to cease all East Lothian operations in August.  VERDICT: Take the bus

The National Museum of Flight is a great place to visit and their website clearly details the many ways to reach East Fortune (bus, train, bicycle, car – in that order!).

A journey combining train and bus usually takes just over an hour but if you travel on a Saturday when trains are more frequent, you might be lucky with the timings and get there in as little as 44 minutes.  Take a train to Drem and get an Eve’s 121.   If you prefer two wheels, take a look at Cycling Scot’s blog on how to reach the museum by bike.  VERDICT: Easy Train/Bus (or Bike) combo

A trip to the Scottish Seabird Centre is very easy on public transport and their website encourages you to get there by walking, cycling, train, bus, car – in that order (well done Seabird Centre).

Take the train to North Berwick.  Buses are available (until FirstBus withdraws) but the train is quicker and more pleasant.  VERDICT: Take the train!

The video also features Dirleton Castle which is owned by Historic Environment Scotland.  The website gives details of grid reference and has links to travel planners but nothing specifically to encourage people to use public transport.  The withdrawal of the Firstbus X24 will make it problematic reaching Dirleton (and other coastal towns not served by a train).  Until another bus operator takes over the route, your options are walk the 2 miles from North Berwick train station. VERDICT: Wait and see

The last attraction to star in the video is Dunbar Leisure Pool – a family favourite and free swims for children during the summer holidays.  The website has a small map but there are no directions how to reach the pool.  Fortunately, Traveline Scotland suggests taking train to Dunbar and walking the short journey from the station to the pool.  VERDICT: Take the train!

The video ends with the words “East Lothian Attractions – Explore, Play, Stay, Amazing – No Ordinary Day

The ‘Getting Here’ section of the Visit East Lothian website lists the ways of reaching the county as: Road, Rail, Bus, Air & Sea.  Let’s hope that information providers explore the possibility that visitors might want to use sustainable methods of travel to ‘Edinburgh’s playground’ – now that would be amazing.

Further Information:

I’ve only looked at whether a journey was feasible (not taking into account practicalities such as travelling with a buggy) and I haven’t made price comparisons.  You should bear in mind that FirstBus will cease all East Lothian operations in August.

Eve’s Coaches

Lothian Country Buses


Scotrail – Scotrail have a KidsGoFree ticket which also offers free entry to some attractions 


Cycling Scot


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