East Lothian hotel celebrates 4-star Gold Award

A luxury hotel in East Lothian has achieved a prestigious Quality Assurance award from VisitScotland just one year after opening.

Garleton Lodge nestled in a countryside setting between Haddington and Gullane, has been awarded a four-star gold accolade from the national tourism organisation.

Picture Copyright Chris Watt
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Twitter: @chriswattphoto
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Having worked in the property and catering industries in the Middle East, Angela and David Cockerton, decided to return to the UK and set up a small hotel offering a careful blend of understated luxury in a homely environment, which includes a restaurant, spa, outdoor hot tub and bar, all with spectacular 360-degree panoramic views across Edinburgh, the Forth and the East Lothian countryside.

The Quality Assurance Gold Award shines the spotlight on businesses within the QA Scheme who continue to exceed customer expectations on an on-going basis, whilst taking an innovative and proactive approach in delivering excellence within the tourism industry.

Garleton Lodge has also achieved a VisitScotland Taste Our Best Award. The award recognises businesses who are committed to serving and promoting high quality food and drink connecting the places people visit with first-class local produce. Already working very closely with East Lothian food and drink suppliers, Angela and David have plans to open a Cookery School later next year to help further showcase the best of Scottish food and drink. Ahead of this, next month will see the launch of their handmade chocolate business – The Chocolate Stag.

 Garleton Lodge also work very closely with VisitScotland and East Lothian Council to promote East Lothian as Scotland’s Golf Coast – host to no less than four competitions, the Scottish Open, Scottish Senior Open, Ladies Scottish Open and World Hickory Championship – attracting both international and domestic visitors to stay, play, eat and watch golf. The hotel is also part of the VisitScotland Information Partnership Scheme, giving guests the opportunity to enjoy the luxury and comfort of this accommodation whilst making plans to explore more of what East Lothian has to offer.

 David Cockerton, Co-owner of Garleton Lodge said: “Angela and I are delighted that VisitScotland has recognized our efforts to provide exceptional guest care, service and hospitality with this Gold Award.

 “After many years of planning, it was exciting for us to launch Garleton Lodge a little over a year ago. For VisitScotland to acknowledge what we are doing with this Gold Award is amazing and reinforces our enthusiasm to make all of our guests feel special during their stay. We have further exciting plans in the pipeline – including the introduction of a Cookery School aimed at showcasing not only Angela’s cooking but also East Lothian food and drink producers.”

 Neil Christison, VisitScotland Regional Director said: “Congratulations to David and Angela at Garleton Lodge on this outstanding achievement. The hotel is another example of high-quality accommodation in the East Lothian region which has a wide range and variety of visitor attractions, golf courses and food & drink establishments, making it a must-see visitor destination.”

 For more information, visit: http://www.garletonlodge.co.uk/

 To learn more visit:


Fabulous February

January seemed to last forever what with FIVE Mondays and TWO full moons.

Thankfully, the shortest month is finally here and it’s going to be great!  Here’s why:

  • From 1st February, to celebrate the Year of Young People 2018, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will be lowering drawbridges and opening gates to young people at historic sites across the country for the low price of £1 when presenting a Young Scot Card.
  • Throughout the month, Preston Lodge High School is having a ban on sugary drinks.  Look out for #ProudToBeFizzFree on Twitter.
  • Kitten Kaboodle is offering new customers in East Lothian 10% off their first cat sitting session until 11 Feb (quote “kitten” when you book).  Spaces are limited, so contact them now!
  • 1st of February is Time to Talk Day – a chance for all of us to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives.  Take a look at the Conversation Starter (pdf).
  • Life is nicer when you’re kind.  In February two years ago, a mystery person left cash to pay for a parking fine while the car owner was in Edinburgh’s Sick Kids. The recipient was so moved by this act of kindness that they paid the favour forward with a fundraising drive for the hospital.  That’s how kindness works, like a ripple in a pond.  Stuck for ideas?  Look here >> https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas
  • Schools in East Lothian break up for half term on Friday 9th, returning Tuesday 20th.
  • 16th February marks Chinese New Year.  This year (along with 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 & 2006) is Year of the Dog.  Click here for a review of The 10 Best Chinese Restaurants in East Lothian
  • The launch of new Pride for East Lothian takes place at Cockenzie House and Garden, on Saturday, February 17 from 11am – 7pm as part of LGBT History Month.
  • Shepherd House, Inveresk, will be part of The Snowdrop Festival on 24th and 25th February from 11 – 4 pm.  It will also be open 13th February – 6th March on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 2-4pm.
  • From 25th February, there will be improvements to East Coast bus services including additional services on the 107 (renumbered as X7) at peak times; the extension of the 106 service to Fort Kinnaird; and the introduction of the N113 NightHawk service to Ormiston.

As always there will be lots to see and do in the county.  Take a look through these East Lothian events:


Got something you want to share?  Get in touch

Event appointed to the National Marine Centre project

92% want to learn more about the marine environment

Conservation and education charity, the Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick, announces the appointment of Event for the National Marine Centre project.

Award-winning and internationally recognised, Event is one of Europe’s leading experience design agencies. Their role with the National Marine Centre (a working title) is to create a series of new interactive and exciting exhibitions that will bring-to-life Scotland’s amazing marine habitats and species. This is in collaboration with the National Marine Centre’s ‘Marine Advisory Group’, led by Professor John Baxter, with expertise being drawn from scientists, researchers and academic organisations from all over Scotland.

A public survey undertaken as part of the project has revealed 92% of respondents were interested to know more about the marine environment, but there are limited platforms to communicate the research and conservation projects that are currently being undertaken. The exhibitions in the National Marine Centre will be designed to inform and inspire people of all ages about life above and below the waves.

Steve Simons, Executive Creative Director at Event, said: “Developing the already successful Seabird Centre into a National Marine Centre is an inspired idea. All around the world there is an understanding that the oceans are an integral element of the earth’s survival, yet we are unaware of another project that will have the proposed focus this Centre will have.

“Event is very excited to be given the opportunity to build upon the success of the Seabird Centre and provide a series of dynamic displays that will invite audiences to enjoy and understand Scotland’s remarkable marine life, as well as highlight the important research and conservation work that is being undertaken.”

With over 30 years’ experience, Event has worked on several high-profile projects such as the Roman Baths in Bath, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews (awarded European Museum of the Year 2016); Titanic Belfast; the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre and Riverside Museum in Glasgow.

They are also currently redesigning the permanent galleries of the Burrell Collection in Glasgow; as well as Canterbury Journey at Canterbury Cathedral; Naturalis National Natural History Museum of the Netherlands; Biotopia – Bavarian Museum of Natural History & Life Science; Strandings Museum in Denmark, the Hans Christian Andersen House of Fairytales in Odense, Denmark and the National Army Museum in London, due to open Spring 2017.

Grace Martin, Project Director for the National Marine Centre, said: “The National Marine Centre presents an opportunity for the Seabird Centre not only to diversify, but to meet the demand for education and conservation programmes, new activities and events, as well as enhancing the exhibition space.

“Event has a fantastic track record and it is great to bring their wealth of experience to the project. They really understand the necessity to attract new audiences, but also take our current supporters on the journey with us as the National Marine Centre develops.”

East Coast Buses Christmas & New Year

East Coast Buses have put together a Christmas timetable to make sure you can travel around East Lothian as well as to and from Edinburgh this festive season.

Click here to open the Christmas timetable (PDF)

There will be special services running on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and 1 January and a Saturday service to help you get around on 24, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 December (please remember last evening services will depart earlier than normal on 24 and 31 December).


Vote for the Pans Labyrinth!

The Friends of Cuthill Park are asking people to vote for their project to receive funding from the Aviva Community Fund.  (Voting begins Friday 21st October)

This grant will enable the charity to work with international labyrinth artist Jim Buchanan in holding several events in Cuthill Park to design a labyrinth linked to the salt-panning heritage of Prestonpans, and have it installed at the top of our beautiful, sloping park where it will have breathtaking views over the Firth of Forth and bring the benefit of mindful, peaceful, reflective labyrinth walking to our whole community.

The group will involve the community in workshops to develop a unique design for the Prestonpans labyrinth under the guidance of experienced labyrinth artist Jim Buchanan. This is an exciting and unusual opportunity for the community to be part of the development of something beautiful, enduring and positive, which they can take pride in for years to come. Several temporary labyrinths will be mown into the grass in the park, a final design will be chosen and installed using hard wearing, low maintenance materials.

The labyrinth will address the Area Partnership’s priority to improve wellbeing by providing a permanent space for people to go to experience meditative, peaceful pondering. This reduces a person’s stress levels & helps them to develop resilience.

A permanent labyrinth will also provide a focal point for mindfulness events for the community and the varied groups who come to Cuthill Park, from the local Home Educating families, to the nursery, Afterschool Club, DadsWork, and the local schools.  Many families bring their children to play in the park, and grandparents, parents and children alike can enjoy walking a labyrinth. Likewise there are hundreds of local dog owners who visit the park regularly and who will have the opportunity to include a peaceful, meditative experience in their daily walk.

There is a great deal of community support for this project. The results of our 2014 community consultation, showed that a maze was the most requested item from all the online surveys, while it came second to a trampoline in all the surveys handed out to youth groups and schools. Sheila Laing, head teacher of one of the three local primary schools, wrote the following:

‘As Headteacher of Prestonpans Infant School, I wholeheartedly support the creation of a labyrinth in Cuthill Park, Prestonpans. My pupils have benefited in the past from the visit of a temporary labyrinth. It is a great way to help children to learn mindfulness and the importance of reflection and stillness. We already teach this in school as a means of improving children’s mental health and wellbeing. Having a labyrinth permanently in Cuthill Park will give our children a place they can retreat to ponder, be still and exercise mindfulness throughout their lives. It would promote mental and spiritual wellbeing in Prestonpans for all ages, which is one of the priorities of the Preston/Seton/Gosford Area Partnership.’

The nursery and the AfterSchool club both take care of raised beds in the community garden, and feel the addition of a labyrinth to the park will bring another facet to their experience there. DadsWork (a charity supporting fathers) use the park regularly and will benefit from the labyrinth.

Di Williams MBE, the UK Master Teacher for Labyrinth Facilitator Training, advised on the best location for the labyrinth, expressing delight over the effect the stunning view will have on those walking the labyrinth.

As shown by the many projects we have successfully completed in the park, we are experienced at working in partnership with other organisations and have the necessary experience, enthusiasm and resilience to see this project to completion. We find great fulfilment in providing our community with a rich and diverse range of opportunities and experiences when they visit our much-loved park.

Friends’ Secretary, Carole Sneddon said: Please help us bring peace and balance into the lives of our community members – vote for us so we can provide this healing space for all who need it, as they walk the labyrinth and experience the ‘landscape of their soul.’

Vote here: https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/16-2735

SESplan Proposed Strategic Development Plan Publication – 13 October to 24 November 2016

SESplan, the Strategic Development Planning Authority for the Edinburgh and south east Scotland region has published the Proposed Strategic Development Plan. This is key step in replacing the current Strategic Development Plan of 2013 and is the final opportunity for
comments to be made.

The Proposed Strategic Development Plan deals with a range of strategic planning issues including housing, transport and green infrastructure for a twenty year period beginning in 2018. Its role will be to guide Local Development Plans produced by Local Authorities in the future.

Comments, known as representations, can be made on the Proposed Strategic Development Plan for a six week period between Thursday 13 October and Thursday 24 November 2016.

Representations should be made in writing and submitted using SESplan’s consultation portal: sesplan-consult.objective.co.uk. In line with government guidelines, representations should set out the specific changes you think should be made to the plan along with a justification for such changes. Representations should be limited to 2,000 words per issue, though you are welcome to submit representations on more than one issue.

The Proposed Strategic Development Plan can be read and downloaded online at www.sesplan.gov.uk or paper copies can be read at libraries and planning offices within the region.

SESplan will also be running a series of public events where you can find out more about the Proposed Strategic Development Plan. These will be held on the following dates:

  •  Monday 24 October, City Chambers, Dunfermline
  •  Wednesday 26 October, Lasswade Centre, Bonnyrigg
  •  Thursday 3 November, West Lothian Civic Centre, Livingston
  •  Monday 7 November, City Chambers, Edinburgh
  •  Wednesday 9 November, The Brunton, Musselburgh
  •  Thursday 10 November, Council Headquarters, Newtown St. Boswells

Each event will be open from 3pm to 6.30pm on a drop-in basis when anyone can come along to discuss the plan without prior arrangement. From 6.30pm there will be a presentation and Q&A session. For the presentation sessions spaces may be limited, so please let SESplan know if you are wishing to come along using the contact details below.

More information on the Proposed Strategic Development Plan and supporting documents, events and making a representation can be found on the SESplan website www.sesplan.gov.uk.

If you would like to contact SESplan about the plan, events or for any other information, you can email contactus@sesplan.gov.uk, call on 01506 282883 or write to them at SESplan, Second Floor, West Lothian Civic Centre, Howden South Road, Livingston EH54 6FF.

Introducing NightHawk

You’ll soon be able to benefit from two new bus services that will take you home after weekend nights out in Edinburgh.

Launching on Saturday 5 November, the new NightHawk services will depart from Frederick Street and end in Dunbar and North Berwick. The routes will also take in stops on Princes Street, Leith Street and the Omni Centre, as well as Musselburgh.


NightHawk N106 will run from Edinburgh City Centre via Musselburgh, Tranent, Haddington, East Linton and Dunbar. Two journeys will run on Saturday and Sunday mornings departing the city centre at 0025 & 0225.

NightHawk N124 will run from Edinburgh City Centre via Musselburgh, Prestonpans,  Longniddry, Gullane and North Berwick. Two journeys will run on Saturday and Sunday mornings departing the city centre at 0055 & 0255.


RAGES: Write to your MSP

This note was circulated at the RAGES - Rail Action Group East of Scotland AGM. 

Reston and East Linton stations are within our grasp and we need you to keep up the pressure on your MSP and ultimately the Transport Minister, otherwise we face another 20 years of closed stations and no hope of trains ever returning to Berwickshire and East Lothian. 

Below is a style of Email or Letter for your MSP. Please send this to at least one of your elected representatives - or to all of them - so that they know that the people of Berwickshire and East Lothian are really in favour of our Stations returning.
-------------------------------------------------Suggested Email to South of Scotland MSPs:
Rachael.Hamilton.msp@parliament.scot; Iain.Gray.msp@parliament.scot; Joan.McAlpine.msp@parliament.scot; Emma.Harper.msp@parliament.scot; Paul.Wheelhouse.msp@parliament.scot; Brian.Whittle.msp@parliament.scot; Claudia.Beamish.msp@parliament.scot; Colin.Smyth.msp@parliament.scot; John.Lamont.msp@parliament.scot 

Dear (MSP Name) I am writing to ask you to lobby the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, to go ahead with the re-opening of our stations at Reston in Berwickshire and East Linton in East Lothian, where we have been campaigning for almost 20 years. A good business case has been made for both stations and both Scottish Borders Council and East Lothian Council are very supportive. We now need the Minister to prioritise these re-openings to enable our rural areas to grow and to benefit from all the advantages that a rail link brings. More information can be found at http://www.rages.org.uk/. Please help us overcome this final hurdle to get our stations Back on Track. (Your Name and Address)..................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................................................

Prestonpans Park Commended at Scottish Play Awards

Cuthill Park in Prestonpans, has been honoured at the Nancy Ovens Play Awards, which recognise those who provide or support access to high quality outdoor play experiences for children. The Trustees of the Nancy Ovens Trust commended the park in the Play in the Community category.

carol_with_awardThe accolade was announced at a ceremony on Tuesday 4th October 2016 at Dumfries House, Cumnock, Ayrshire.

In 2012, the park had the lowest quality rating of any play park in the East Lothian area.

Fearing it may become lost to the community, the Friends of Cuthill Park group sought to safeguard its future and it was given permanent protection from development when it was designated a Queen Elizabeth II Field. Since then, improvements have included the installation of decorative railings in the roadside boundary wall and the annual sowing of wildflower meadows.

The biggest change came in 2015 when £87,000 was spent on play equipment in what Jupiter Play described as a ‘challenging‘ project owing to a mixture of ground conditions including undulating grass areas surrounded by sloping hills lined with trees.

Since the creation of the play area, Cuthill Park has received outstanding 5 star ratings on popular review sites Trip Advisor and Netmums and has seen a large increase in visitor numbers.

Friends of Cuthill Park Secretary Carole Sneddon said:

“We are really thrilled to have our hard work recognised. East Lothian Council’s Amenity Services team have been very supportive in helping us create a very special play park for all sections of the community.”

Carole continued:

“Creating the play area has been a lengthy process during which we forged great partnerships with local groups, schools and the Council. We are now looking to develop these links as we progress other projects within the park”

The Friends charity is currently one of three local organisations to have been selected to receive funding from Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme. The Friends’ project to create a ‘Woodland Learning Zone’ will receive either £8k, £10k or £12k depending on public vote which takes place in Musselburgh Tesco from 31st October to 13th November.

East Lothian accountancy firm agrees merger

Haddington based chartered accountants, N C Campbell & Co, have merged with Berwick company Greaves West & Ayre.

As of 1st October, the combined firm consists of 11 partners and 104 staff and will operate from fully staffed and managed offices in 8 St Ann’s Place, Sidegate, Haddington and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The expanded firm is called Greaves West & Ayre (incorporating N C Campbell & Co) and, with no changes to personnel, the usual contacts for both firms remain the same.

Greaves West & Ayre Partners
(Ewan Millar – on the left- shaking hands with Alan Patterson)

N C Campbell & Co partner Ewan Millar comments:

In Greaves West & Ayre we have found a like-minded organisation that shares the same traditional values of quality client care to businesses of all sizes across all sectors. We can more effectively safeguard the future of our employees in Haddington and the relationships with our clients in the long term. Being part of a larger organisation, we will have increased capacity to help our clients with any issues they may have. Greaves West & Ayre has long-established additional services which our clients will be able to access including Specialist Tax and VAT advice, Pensions & Investment advice, Computer and IT services including Cloud Accounting.”

The partners look forward to offering continued Quality Advice and Quality Service from the enlarged firm and invite anyone wishing to find out about the services on offer to get in touch for a free initial meeting.