The royal burgh of North Berwick (bear-ick, the "w" is silent) dates to the 14th century. But in more modern Victorian and Edwardian times, it served as an upmarket holiday resort, drawing visitors to its beaches, harbor, and golf courses where the Firth of Forth meets the North Sea. About 36km (21 miles) east of Edinburgh, the town is on a direct rail line from Edinburgh; the trip takes about 30 minutes. Standard one-way fare is about £6. Bus service from Edinburgh takes a little more than an hour. An all-day ticket to North Berwick and the region around it costs around £8. If you're driving, take the coastal road east from Leith, or use the A1 (marked THE SOUTH and DUNBAR) to the A198 (via Gullane) to North Berwick.

At the year-round tourist office, Quality St. (tel. 01620/892-197), you can get information on boat trips to offshore islands, including Bass Rock, a breeding ground inhabited by about 10,000 gannets, the second-largest colony in Scotland, as well as puffins and other birds. It's possible to see the rock from the harbor, but the viewing is even better at Berwick Law, a volcanic lookout point that rises up behind the town.