Dirleton: Prettiest Village in Scotland?

Dirleton, midway between North Berwick and Gullane, has been cited as the prettiest village in Scotland. It is so picture-postcard perfect, it's hard to believe it's a real village at all - it appears almost to have been created for a movie set. But it is genuine. Because the main road bypasses the village, there is little traffic. Each cottage looks like it's waiting to be photographed, and the standards of home maintenance are undoubtedly very high.

Gullane & the Muirfield Golf Course

Lying 8km (5 miles) west of North Berwick, about 28km (16 miles) east of Edinburgh in East Lothian, the pleasant and attractive village of Gullane (pronounced "gill-in" by many, "gull-an" by others) is another resort with a fine beach and a famous golf course. On the edge of the village, Gullane Hill provides a nature reserve and bird sanctuary, where more than 100 species of birds have been spotted. Visitors cross a small wooden footbridge from the car park to enter the reserve. There's no rail service into Gullane, but the station at Drem is only about 4km (2 1/2 miles) away; the train journey there from Edinburgh takes about 25 minutes. Buses for Gullane depart from the Edinburgh bus terminal near St. Andrew's Square (tel. 0800/232-323 for information). They take about an hour.

Dunbar: Birthplace of John Muir

Go to the wild places, and listen to what they have to say. Take time to look at the pattern of veins on a leaf, the perfect flight of a bird. Hear the music of the wind in the pines. Feel the life around you and in you.

-- John Muir

The man who first dedicated himself to Yosemite Valley in California, founded the Sierra Club, and was single-handedly responsible for establishing the national park system in the United States, was born April 21, 1838, in the humble harbor town of Dunbar about 15km (9 miles) southeast of North Berwick. Pioneering conservationist John Muir left the country as a child and only recently have Scots begun to recognize, celebrate - and also to capitalize on - Muir's international stature as an explorer and naturalist. Ironically, Scotland is well behind when it comes to establishing national parks of its own amid the frequently spectacular countryside. There are two: the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond (with the Trossachs). In Dunbar, you can visit Muir's birthplace (126 High St.; tel. 01368/865-899;, which now houses a museum.

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