Rugged Run – East Lothian Beach Marathon (Iain)

John Muir was one of America’s most famous and influential ‘Outdoor Enthusiasts’ – although he described himself (in a ltter to a friend) as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.” Which must be annoying to write when he was filling in the job title section of application forms.

The John Muir Way is a 130 mile walking/biking route that stretches from his birthplace of Dunbar to where he left Scotland to head to America – Helensburgh. That is too far to run in one day but whilst looking at the route I noticed the section from Edinburgh to East Lothian is almost marathon distance if I went via as many beaches as possible.

I planned to start in in North Berwick and then get the train to Edinburgh but due to heavy traffic on the Edinburgh bypass it looked like I was going to miss the train. I drove to Longniddry instead and caught the train I should have got from North Berwick.

This complicated my run slightly as there is only one train an hour from North Berwick to Longniddry. I’d have to keep an eye on the time so that at the end of my run I didn’t miss a train and then have a long wait.

The first section of the route was from Waverly Station to Portobello beach.I used to live near the route so it was interesting to see places I used to visit – look there’s the Safeway I got my shopping in, look there’s that weird that always had scary people outside it, and look there’s that gym owned by a personal trainer to Hollywood celebrities’.

I was at the opening night of that Gym. I remember the personal trainer thanking everyone for coming. He asked his girlfriend to stand with him. He then he burst into tears as he blubbed about how much he loved her, how she had changed his life and how he’d do anything for her. She was really embarrassed at his speech and so was most of the audience. A couple of year later, I saw him on the front page of a tabloid paper. It turned out he wasn’t a nice man!

The first beach was Portobello beach or Puerto Bello Beach. Which I saw written in Graffiti on a wall next to the beach. I like the Spanish vibe of the name. It seems fitting when the weather is nice and the beach is full of happy people but maybe it is not so appropriate in the depths of winter.

The route from here to Gullane is very easy. Follow the John Muir way signs. I enjoyed this sections as I wasn’t very familiar with the towns of Musselburgh, Port Seaton and Cockenzie. They all had nice seas fronts to run along.

In Gullane I decided to ignore the John Muir Way. The official route goes south of the town but I wanted to go to the beach. It was definitely the correct decision. The coastal section here was my favorite part of the run. There was big sandy beaches and nice trail running.

Gullane was a good spot to pick up refreshments. I got chocolate and water from the local CO-OP.

I rejoined the John Muir Way as I left Gullane. I wanted to head to Yellowcraigs beach but I was conscious of time. The detour to the beach would mean I’d miss the next train from North Berwick to Longniddry and then I’d have a long wait.

I decided to head straight for the train. I’d see enough beaches for one day!

Check out the video below to see what the rote is like. I was running by myself so it’s mostly shots I could film quick and easily as I didn’t want to add too much time onto the run.




Rating: 4 out of 5.

An interesting route but the road section might put people off doing it. If so you could start at the forest entrance instead


Rating: 3 out of 5.

North Berwick can be very busy so get there early to find a spot.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plenty of cafes and shops on the route.

Nearest cafe

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plenty of cafes and shops on the route.

Run Surface

20% road, 50% path. 30% off road.

Dog Friendly

Yes it is possible but I wouldn’t recommend the distance for a dog. I would only take my dogs on a shorter stretch of the route.


344M of elevation.

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