On Top of the World

At lunchtime, on my way in to EL Council offices in Haddington the skive inspiration hit me and veered me off the A6137 at West Garleton to puff my way up Byers Hill and the 133 steps to the top of the Hopeton Monument. We don’t normally get such clear, still days here in the depths of normally dreich November; this was a special treat, well worth the skive.

The 20m Hopetoun Monument atop 186m Byers Hill

The 20m Hopetoun Monument atop 186m Byers Hill

The car park is at the base of the hill and a good 50m below the summit itself. Use the kissing gate on the entrance road leading direct to the slope—the easier looking access at the end of the car park does not lead to the summit. The views from the hilltop are good but not a patch from those at the top, so do make the effort to climb all the way.

The entry is on the SE side with the size and pitch of the steps visible here so you can judge if you’re up for it. Be aware that the spiral stair is narrow and lit only by the odd slit in the stone walls so bring a torch. However, although the steps don’t get narrower as you go up, beware a crow’s nest in a slit just past halfway up (now apparently deserted). If cardiac arrest doesn’t get you first, the top offers the best 360 degree view in East Lothian (better than Berwick Law) because you can see virtually the whole county—as well as most of Edinburgh and much of Fife.

The the NE—Berwick Law and the Bass Rock

To the Northeast—Kilduff in the middle ground with Berwick Law and the Bass Rock in the distance.

To the East

To the East—Athelstaneford in the middle distance with East Fortune Museum of Flight beyond

To the South-East

To the Southeast—Kae Heughs in the foreground; Traprain Law and Dunbar in the distance

To the South

To the South—Haddington in the middle distance and the Lammermuirs along the Horizon

To the Southwest (and into the sun)

To the Southwest (and into the sun)—Billy Logan’s hugely successful East Lothian Produce and Moorfoots in the distance

To the West

To the West—West Garleton Farm in the foreground, Pentlands, Arthur’s Seat and Edfinburgh in the distance

To the Northwest

To the Northwest—Cockenzie Power Station to the left, Aberlady to the right and Kinghorn beyond Inchkeith & the Forth

To the North

To the North—over Ballencrieff and the railway towards Gullane with Fife’s Largo Law barely visible in the haze

Other than how clear and pretty it all is, what is perhaps reassuring after scanning all round is an unspoiled rural nature of the view: all towns lost in the distance; only fields and far hills dominate the landscape in every direction. Any developer hell-bent on breaking the so-far-intact DC1 policy of East Lothian Council’s Planning Department should perhaps be taken up the monument and shown this view. If they have any soul, they will relent. Otherwise it’s a really good place for justice by defenestration.

Dedication to

Monument Dedication to the 4th Earl of Hopetoun—with Bicentenary fast approaching

About davidsberry

Local ex-councillor, tour guide and database designer. Keen on wildlife, history, boats and music. Retired in 2017.
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2 Responses to On Top of the World

  1. Fantastic day – If you look closely at the ‘South West’ photo – that’s me on the top of Lamer Law at the same time !

    • davidsberry says:

      Sorry to dispute you but that blinding light in the SW shot just looks like an emerging deity but is actually the sun. Anyway, Lammer Law is due S from Byers, behind Long Newton. 🙂

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