McGonagall’s Poetic Gems: Beautiful North Berwick and Its Surrounds

North Berwick, Golfers and Law Hill

North Berwick is a watering-place with golfing links green,
With a fine bathing beach most lovely to be seen;
And there’s a large number of handsome villas also,
And often it’s called the Scarborough of Scotland, as Portobello.

The greatest attraction is Tantallon Castle, worthy of regard,
About three miles distant to the eastward;
Which in time of war reoeived many a shock,
And it’s deemed impregnable and built on a perpendicular rock

The castle was built in times unknown to history,
But ’tis said it belonged to the Douglas family;
And the inside is a labyrinth of broken staircases,
Also ruined chambers and many dismal places.

Then there’s the Berwick Law Hill, 612 feet high,
Which no doubt is very attractive to the eye,
And skirted with a wood and a public walk,
Where visitors can enjoy themselves and have a social talk.

The wood is really lovely and enchanting to be seen,
In the spring or summer season when the trees are green;
And as ye listen to the innocent birds singing merrily there,
‘Twill help to elevate your spirits and drive away dull care.

Then near by Tantallon is the fishing village of Canty Bay,
Where boats can be hired to the Bass Rock, about two miles away;
And the surrounding scenery is magnificent to see,
And as the tourists view the scene it fills their hearts with glee.

Then away! then away! pleasure-seekers in bands,
And view Gullane with its beautiful sands,
Which stretch along the sandy shores of Fife,
Where the tourist can enjoy himself and be free from strife

June, 1899.

See the poem at McGonagall Online here.

North Berwick is a seaside town in East Lothian, 25 miles east of  Edingburgh. The town is famous for its golf courses as McGonagall is quick to point out. Scarborough is a famous North Yorkshire seaside resort that was popular in Victorian times (and is still a gem). Portobello, now a suburb of Edingburgh, was then in its heyday as a resort.

Some of the sights McGonagall points out:

Bass Rock
Tantallon Castle
Canty Bay

Gullane is a golfing village surrounded by three courses. In McGonagall’s time it was connected to North Berwick by the Aberlady, Gullane and North Berwick Railway.

Gullane Station in 1914 – notice the golfer
Gullane Station in 1976

On the evidence of this poem, McGonagall could have made a living today writing tourist brochures.

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