For a vibrant town on the breathtaking East Lothian coast, look no further than Dunbar. Boasting sandy beaches, the John Muir Country Park, protected woodland areas, an active train station, and an old – yet working – harbour. This seaside destination features not one, but two promenades, part of the “John Muir Way.” From these, you can enjoy views of Dunbar’s natural landscape – including volcanic deposits, public parks, beaches, and rock pools.
Dunbar is approximately 30 miles east of Edinburgh and 28 miles from the border at Berwick-upon-Tweed. Dunbar boasts another claim-to-fame that is sure to make most envious: it has more hours of direct sunshine per year than west and central Scotland. Perfect for a short, summer get-away or a permanent residence in this beautiful part of the UK.
A little About Dunbar’s History
Dunbar, being a coastal town, is home to the Dunbar Lifeboat Station. The second oldest RNLI station in Scotland. Dunbar harbour originates as far back as the 17th century. The town used to be a major herring and whaling port. Today, the harbour is still very active, mainly for bringing in shellfish caught in nearby Scottish waters. The harbour is populated by the fleets of fishing boats as well as being home to the local a sailing club.
Further back than that, in 1338, Dunbar countess – Agnes Randolph (known as “Black Agnes”) heroically defended Dunbar Castle. As a relative of Robert the Bruce, Lady Agnes repelled – rather comically – the English siege for 6 months during the Second War of Scottish Independence, that of which lasted 10 years. It wasn’t unusual for wives to take the reins of castles whilst their husbands were away. However, Lady Agnes held the castle against catapults, bribery, and the capture of her brother, all whilst throwing jokes at the Earl of Salisbury. Her exploits are sure to have inspired scenes in Game of Thrones and Monty Python alike.
The Belhaven Brewery, established in 1719, is the oldest working brewery in Scotland. One of East Lothian’s highlights that can be found on the shelves of supermarkets across the country. The brewery is surrounded by the cascading barley fields, likely enhanced by the increased time in the sun (as anyone would be). Here you can book a tour, visit the merchandise shop, or simply appreciate the sight of the historic brewery buildings.
What’s in Dunbar?
The town itself offers a lively High Street with award-winning shops. If you’re looking for fresh produce, you can make use of the grocers, bakers, and butchers.
Consider all your necessities covered with a choice of banks, hardware shops, chemists, and even a garden centre and florist. Flowers from which can be found decorating the modern, independent, restaurants in the town. If all that isn’t enough for a day out, you also have the option of visiting the fine art galleries, coffee houses, or bars. On the outskirts of Dunbar are a large supermarket and fast-food outlet.
Sports & Leisure in Dunbar
Dunbar Leisure Pool is a state-of-the-art centre, hosting a family-friendly pool. It has an exciting wave machine and flume to entertain kids and adults alike. If water activities aren’t your exercise of choice, the on-site gym and fitness classes are sure to satisfy. It even has a crèche to keep little ones occupied. Dunbar is home to an independently owned “Platinum Performance Centre”, which has a state-of-the-art gym, and martial arts facilities.
If you’re looking for a grand day out with the wee one’s, make sure to visit East Links Family Park. A multi award-winning 20-acre farm-themed adventure park providing a fun day out for all ages. Here you can feed cows, goats, donkeys, and a whole lot of wildlife. They have a petting zoo for smaller animals, a train safari, a play park which includes a fortress – fit for all your little kings and queens – go karts, and a ‘watering hole’. A perfect place to embrace your wild side!
Want to hit the waves? Look no further than Belhaven Bay, a popular spot for surfers and paddleboarders in the summer months due to the surf centre situated here. Curious newbies are welcomed into lessons and can hire equipment directly from the centre once the basic skills are covered. The coast of Dunbar is your oyster!
Nearby Belhaven is home to the magnificent ‘Foxlake,’ an in-land water sports park. It has a big emphasis on wakeboarding and has a variety of ramps in the water.
Maintaining a healthy, sporty lifestyle is easily achieved in Dunbar, which also benefits from tennis courts, large sports grounds and two golf courses, as well as the local football and rugby teams.
Dunbar United Football Club, a team we are proud to have sponsored, hosts a successful adult’s team. It is also open to youngsters too. With many community outreach programs and other engagement initiatives, it’s no surprise that the club regularly receives the help of enthusiastic local volunteers.
Culture in Dunbar
Dunbar has something for everyone: art, geographical features, seaside amenities, and local workshops – perfect for anyone seeking a new hobby.
The community hosts a free event known as the ‘Sparkling Dunbar Harbour Festival’ which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2022.
Those with an interest in art are sure to appreciate ‘The DunBear’ an impressive sculpture tribute to famous John Muir (who was born in Dunbar), designed by Andy Scott, the Scottish sculptor responsible for the Kelpies.
Lochend Woods are a community resource owned and managed by the Dunbar Community Woodland Group. Their aim is to promote and nurture wildlife whilst maximising potential for educational and recreational use.
It’s fair to say Dunbar offers a unique experience at ‘John Muir Alpacas.’ You can take their alpacas for a trek along a rural trail or down to the beach. These furry friends are even partial to a selfie. Just one of the many fun, family friendly things to do here in the town.
If you’re bringing – or planning to start – a family in Dunbar, you’ll be in good hands with the high-quality schools, both at primary and secondary level. Whether your kids are in public or private schools, they all have great reputations, such the renowned ‘Belhaven Hill’ independent school.
Transport Out of the Town
Dunbar train station is a commuter’s dream. A 25-minute train journey will take you to Berwick Upon-Tweed, or – in the other direction – Edinburgh Waverley, which can get you to all cities across Scotland. Dunbar is also a stop for journeys to-and-from London, Newcastle, York, and many other major destinations throughout England.
The A1 is also easily accessible and provides routes all over East Lothian.
Dunbar’s Property Scene
Dunbar has a variety of property styles with a selection of new build developments, old and historic buildings, cottages, and farmland. Although plentiful, there is a high demand in the area. Locals are seeking more space, whilst it’s becoming common for city-dwellers and even those from further south to make the move here. Everyone’s seeking a calmer, more relaxed setting that still has modern amenities – which Dunbar has in spades.
The average Dunbar property price is around £300,000. And time to sell mediating at just two weeks. Whilst the average property price is somewhat closer to Edinburgh than Tranent, the market is fast-paced, with opportunities for first time buyers, big families, and retirees alike. If you find your dream home in Dunbar, we recommend acting on it fast!!
Should You Live in Dunbar?
Dunbar is proven to accommodate the perfect in-between lifestyle, not too rural as to have nothing happening, but not so built up as to be polluted or noisy. Life here is relaxed, but not boring. Those looking to experience sport and leisure will be in their element in Dunbar. Of course, if you’re more of a romantic, you’ll never be short of those long, beach walks in the sunset.
Garden Stirling Burnet takes pride in securing our clients’ dream homes. We have more than 30 years’ experience in the East Lothian property market. We’re here to provide all the assistance you need in finding your perfect home. You’ll get free advice for both selling your home – even if it’s outside Dunbar – or purchasing a new home, which we suspect you’ll want to be in Dunbar now!
We offer a free pre-sale valuation, so that you have a no-obligation idea of what your current house might be worth before going to market. And we provide no up-front estate agency fees, meaning you don’t pay until the successful sale of your home – one less thing to worry about.
Call in for a chat at our Dunbar branch, or any one of four offices across East Lothian. You can also phone us on 01620 825 368 to get expert advice on Dunbar’s desirable housing market.