Walk of the week: Pressmennan Wood, East Lothian
`If you have young children you may wish to opt out of the main route described below and follow the trail of carvings created by East Lothian wood-carver Robin Wood (yes, that's his real name). Along the way you will find out where the Glingbobs and Tootflits – including Odon Poolittle, Bombi Noffnuff and Jenfrey Hoolups – live. It may sound daft but it is well thought out and will raise a smile.
The trail heads along a track for a few yards then turns right at a yellow painted stone. A little further on there is a box that sometimes contains guide leaflets, but you can download one before you set off from www.robinwoodwork.com/Glingbobs-and-Tootflits.aspx.
Pressmennan Wood was used for centuries as an economic resource – from the 15th century its oak went to build ships in Leith and 18th-century records show that bark was also sold for use in the leather-tanning industry.
On being acquired by the Forestry Commission in 1955, many conifers were replaced by oaks, but the Woodland Trust Scotland bought 210 acres in 1988 and is gradually returning it to its natural, native condition. This includes removing the conifers as well as rhododendrons planted in the Victorian era, encouraging birds and roe deer to return. If you keep quiet, you'll increase your chances of seeing them.
The first section takes you up through forestry but leads to a clearing and views over the Lothians to the Firth of Forth. You then drop down through mixed woodland to a good track, joining the children's trail by the shores of Pressmennan Lake.
A good path follows the shore, past the carvings and back to the end of a circular walk. It can be muddy, so wear boots.
DISTANCE 3 miles HEIGHT CLIMBED 330ft TIME 1-2 hours MAP OS Landranger 67 PARKING Leave the A1 at the Thistly Cross roundabout outside Dunbar and follow the B6370 to Stenton. Go left at the end of the village (by a primary school) and, less than a mile down a narrow lane, left again, following a brown sign for Pressmennan Wood. A car park is at the end of the track.
IN SUMMARY At the end of the car park are two gates. Take the one on the right, leading through trees on the side of Gallows Law. You don't reach the top of the hill, as the track goes to a clearing and a path continues on the other side. You then begin to drop down, ignoring a path on the left to follow the one on the right and swinging round and down to the left to reach a track where you go left. After a few hundred yards at a wooden carving go right, down a path that runs above Pressmennan Lake. Pass a bench, then carvings that make a tree look like a house, before going through a tunnel of overhanging rhododendrons and the path will eventually reach a track at the end of the lake. Go left then left again almost immediately to follow a path to the track below the car park. Turn left to return to the start.
REFRESHMENTS Dunbar or East Linton are your best options.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA John Muir was born in Dunbar and the house on the High Street where he spent his early years now holds a museum (01368 865899, www.jmbt.org.uk) explaining the work of one of Scotland's most influential sons.
This article was first published in Scotland on Sunday on December 6, 2009