This year, we’ve been exploring English Heritage properties with our annual pass. When we ventured up to Northumberland on holiday, we took the opportunity to meet up with my friend Jenny. She suggested meeting at Tantallon Castle, a Historic Scotland property near North Berwick in East Lothian. With Historic Scotland properties either free or half price with English Heritage membership, this was a great chance to explore somewhere new.
About Tantallon Castle
Tantallon Castle is a Historic Scotland property near North Berwick in East Lothian. It was built in the mid-1300s by William Douglas, whose descendants owned the castle for the next 300 years. It survived two sieges, but the destruction caused by Oliver Cromwell’s army in 1851 led to its abandonment.
These days, it is far from abandoned. Its stunning location on the edge of a cliff attracts tourists and while we were there, a couple were having wedding photos taken. I can only imagine how beautiful those photos must have been.
It is also of interest to archaeologists, with several areas having been excavated in 2013 to 2014. From Tantallon Castle, there are incredible views out to Bass Rock where seabirds nest. Wildlife can be spotted from the castle walls, including house martins flitting around everywhere.
For children, it’s the perfect place to explore. They ran around grassy areas, climbed towers and played together. On entry, children are given a bag of things to make their visit more exciting including some puppets, a torch and binoculars. This definitely made them more engaged with their environment and gave us a chance to enjoy the castle too.
After admiring the castle, we decided it was time to head to the coast we’d been gazing at all morning. Just a few minutes drive from Tantallon Castle is dog friendly Seacliff Beach. For a Monday afternoon in the summer holidays, it was incredibly quiet.
To get to the beach, you drive down a private road with an automated barrier. On payment of a £3 fee, you gain access to the small car park, from which a short path takes you to the beach. The vast, virtually deserted expanse of soft sand offers stunning views to both Tantallon Castle and Bass Rock.
We spread picnic blankets on the dry sand and grabbed some food before the children went running off into the sea. The clear, blue water was somewhat chilly but that didn’t seem to deter them at all. Good company, a historic building and a beach with plenty of space to run around really were the ideal ingredients for a great family day out.