Thursday, 27 October 2011

DUNBAR

Heading north from St Abbs, a group of skeletal remains on a mound of rock are all that remain of Fast Castle, which dates back at least to the 14th century. The castle is believed to have been the inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s “Wolf’s Crag”, from his novel “The Bride of Lammermoor”. A bit further along the coast are the red cliffs of Pease Bay and the neighbouring fishing village of Cove, where a tunnel was cut through the cliffs to give local fishermen access to a now-disused curing house.

One would like to think that it was a childhood spent surrounded by the natural splendour of Scotland which led to John Muir becoming a champion of wilderness preservation in America. Muir was born in Dunbar but his family emigrated to the United States in 1849. Muir became a nature writer and activist, playing a big part in efforts to save such iconic American wilderness areas as Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. Today, his connection to this South-East corner of Scotland lives on in the John Muir Way, a 45-mile path from Musselburgh near Edinburgh to Dunglass. There is also the John Muir Country Park which includes 8 miles of beaches and other varied habitats frequented by a variety of birdlife. Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar is now a museum.

Dunbar is a former Royal Burgh – a Scottish town granted a royal charter. Its relative proximity to Edinburgh makes it a popular dormitory town for people working in the Scottish capital. It was inhabited as far back as the Iron Age, and there are exhibits dating from this time on display in the 17th century Town House. Dunbar’s Victoria Harbour was built in the 1840s, but the castle which forms part of it was built in the 13th century. The castle was once occupied by Mary Queen of Scots, who fled here when heavily pregnant with the future James VI of Scotland following a murder instigated by her husband. The following year, she was brought back here by the Earl of Bothwell when he abducted her on her way back from visiting her son at Stirling.

For a list of events in Dunbar see here.

Map of the area.

'John and Sandy Gray, Dunbar Harbour and Castle, 1987' photo (c) 2005, Phillip Capper - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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