Best East Lothian and Fife beaches to visit with children

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IF you live in or around Edinburgh you’re never too far from the seaside, and now’s the time of year to really start enjoying a bit of sun, sand and surf without your coat on!

If you’ve explored Edinburgh’s own Cramond and Portobello Beaches and were wondering where to venture next, Edinburgh for Under Fives’ researchers have some answers. Here’s our quick guide to a few of the beaches of East Lothian and Fife.

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EAST LOTHIAN

Gullane Bents

A short walk from the centre of Gullane with its coffee shops and eateries, follow signs for Gullane Bents to this beautiful golden crescent of sand. The beach slopes gradually, giving plenty of paddling space at high tide. The beach is backed by dunes, which give some shelter, and as it’s within the Forth estuary, the water is also usually pretty calm.

More info: www.visitscotland.com/info/towns-villages/gullane-bents-p315621

Top tip: Bring your sling! Access from the car park to the beach is down a narrow, relatively steep sandy path.

North Berwick

West Beach is a beautiful expanse of sand, ideal for letting your little ones run around. Milsey Bay is situated next to the Seabird Centre and is the popular area for sandcastle building and exploring rock pools. The water pool built into the rocks is a safe place for children to sail boats, play and paddle.

More info: north-berwick.co.uk/index.php/attractions/

Seacliff Beach

The £3.30 entry barrier fee is perfectly acceptable when you see this stunning, sheltered, often deserted private beach just to the east of North Berwick on the A198 (on the Auldhame Farm corner). Beautiful views of the Bass Rock, and when the tide is out you can see Tantallon Castle from the beach as well as an old historic harbour. A very short walk from the car park to the beach makes it ideal for even the youngest of walkers and is not far to carry babies.

More info: www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/northberwick/seacliff/index.html

Top tip: Toilet facilities are available but take your own toilet roll.

Yellowcraig Beach

A scenic 30-minute drive out of Edinburgh. There is plenty of free parking. A short walk from the car park takes you to an amazing stretch of sandy beach. With rock pools, views out to Fidra and the lighthouse, paths through the dunes and woodland there is plenty to keep everyone happy. Near the car park there’s an adventure play area with a range of equipment, some for the under 3s but mainly geared towards older children.

More info: www.visitscotland.com/info/towns-villages/yellowcraig-p315951

Top tip: Excellent information boards in the car park give detailed information on what you can see from the beach, and tide and water quality information as well as recent wildlife sightings.

FIFE

Aberdour Silver Sands Beach

This beach won a Blue Flag award again in 2013 and visitors will understand why. It is a clean beach with great facilities including lifeguards, picnic tables, toilets and a good café (Sands Café). There is also a large grassy area for ball games and a children’s playpark.

More info: fife.gov.uk/atoz/index.cfm?fuseaction=facility.display&facid=F6F2E700-004A-4F8A-B1B2C9DD163B7E83

St Andrews

There are two fantastic beaches here, West and East Sands. Both are clean, with water that you could take a dip in (but check www.sepa.org.uk before doing so, just to make sure). East Sands has a playpark nearby and an ice cream stand. West Sands is seemingly endless, perfect for very long walks, while East Sands is more sheltered by St Andrews Castle and a rocky outcrop.

Top tip: There are lots of lovely tea and coffee shops in St Andrews. Pop into North Point Café (24 North Street), where William and Kate allegedly met for coffee!

Top tips for beaches

• If you can, use a baby carrier instead of a buggy.

• Bring along a picnic, plenty of water and something to sit on.

• Go to the cashpoint before you arrive – there are sometimes extra things to enjoy such as bouncy castles (Aberdour) or carousels (North Berwick). Often there’s an ice cream van too!

• Worth considering a windbreak to change a breezy beach into a balmy one.

• Most beaches have toilets but take along some toilet roll just in case they’re short.

• Remember your sun lotion, hats and cover-up T-shirts.

• Do check water safety notices before taking a dip or visit www.sepa.org.uk – just because it looks clean, it doesn’t mean that it is.

• Don’t forget your bucket and spade!

Edinburgh for Under Fives

Packed with 1000+ reviews by local parents and carers of child-friendly things to do and places to go, the book includes a year’s FREE online subscription so you can quickly access listings and maps on a smartphone or tablet when you’re out and about. Buy edition 14 of Edinburgh for Under Fives at bookshops and gift shops throughout Edinburgh or at www.efuf.co.uk, where you can also buy access to the handy online-only version.

(First published in WOW247 Edinburgh)