There are not many lakes in Scotland. I’m not sure why but the word loch evokes much more atmosphere – maybe it is the fact that so many are so beautiful.
One of the four official lakes lies below Pressmennan Wood in East Lothian , cared for by the Woodland Trust. Its position at the bottom of steep slopes makes it a great place for a short family stroll. Children are entertained thanks to the work of Robin Wood who has carved little homes in trees for the woodland creatures of his imagination, as well as carvings of wood. Further on you can enjoy the site of the loch’s end, often with swans in residence. Finally, unless you wish to see more carvings, there is a chance to go up a little hill and enjoy views towards the Firth of Forth.
DISTANCE: 3 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED: 440ft.
TIME: 1½ to 2 hours.
MAP: OS Landranger 67.
PARK: Leave the A1 at the Thistly Cross roundabout outside Dunbar and follow the B6370 for three miles, to Stenton. Go left at the end of the village (in front of a primary school) and just less than a mile down a narrow country lane go left again, following a brown sign for Pressmennan Wood down a track. There is a car park at the end of the track.
IN SUMMARY: Below the parking area follow a path on the right which starts next to a yellow-painted stone. After only a few yards you reach a track, where you go right.
Go right again almost immediately to leave the track and take a path alongside a small burn to reach the side of Pressmennan Lake.
You pass wooden sculptures and doors in trees which are home to an array of creatures before reaching a carved post with a hole in it – the Holey Posty – next to a track.
Go left to follow the track which gradually gains height before dropping down beyond the end of the lake – which can be seen down to the left, through the trees. When the track ends (at the bottom of the hill) go left to follow a grass path over a burn and back towards the lake. The path leads to a small dam at the end of the lake, which you cross. At the other end follow a muddy path (to the left side of bench) which leads up to the track again – go right to follow it back uphill.
Just after the track has begun to lose height you have a choice to make. If you have young children with you, the best option maybe to keep following the track all the way back to the car park – once past the Holey Posty again there are more carvings to enjoy.
For a more energetic return, and views over East Lothian to the Firth of Forth, go up a path to the left which climbs uphill and swings round to the right. After losing a little height, ignore a path going down to the right and continue uphill. In a dip with a small wooden seat you can enjoy a view through the trees to Bass Rock before continuing to picnic bench with views to Traprain Law and North Berwick Law. The path then drops down, all the way to the car park.