We were fortunate enough to take a holiday in East Lothian, Scotland last year and rented a converted barn on a farm which is situated a couple of miles outside the town of Haddington. The town is surrounded by the most beautiful countryside and is just off the A1 about 17 miles from Edinburgh.
The name Haddington probably derives from 'Hadda's Tun', meaning the 'town of Hadda', and may refer to a Saxon chief who settled on the banks of the Tyne. Alternatively, it may come from the Gaelic 'hofdingia-tun', meaning 'princes town'.
We used Haddington as our base-town, visiting it several times during our stay in order to buy supplies. We found it to be quite a self-sufficient little town, with a good selection of small shops, plus a fairly large Tesco store. The people there were always friendly and the general response to any thanks we gave for their help was 'Nay bother'! That has become a stock reply in our family ever since!
Haddington is quite an old town and very quaint. The river Tyne flows through it and it did once get flooded and you can see the where the water came up to on one of the houses, that has a line on the wall showing just how deep the water got! Luckily, I don't think they have had any more problems since, but seeing that line was a stark reminder as to what could happen!
We thought the town was really pretty and it had lots of small monuments, fountains and statues as you walked round the streets and wynds.
While we were there we explored quite a few of the shops. The High Street is quite wide and they do have a market there, though unfortunately we missed that as it was on the Saturday we were leaving. We did find a really good bookshop, which we enjoyed exploring. There was also a fabulous little gift shop that also sold kitchenware (couldn't get me out of there, as I am a sucker for kitchenware!) and I got a lovely cheese dish that matched some other things I had back at home, so I was well-pleased! The town has a post office and newsagents, shoe shops and hardware store.
One of our favourite shops was the local deli, that sold the most wonderful cheeses and also the local butcher, whose sausages were really good! You have to sample the local fare, after all!
The centre of Haddington is built around the core of the High Street and Market Street and has a one-way traffic system in that part of the town. It was easy to navigate though and there is plenty of parking to the back of the Tesco store.
Although there were several great pubs and restaurants we did not try any, as there were so many in the surrounding villages to choose from. When we revisit, we will certainly have to try The Maitlandfield House Hotel in Haddington, which is housed in a beautiful Georgian building. It has a Brasserie Grill and Bar that caters to the hotel's guests, as well as visitors,and serves some wholesome Scottish dishes prepared from fresh and locally sourced ingredients while offering views of the beautiful countryside. It looks fabulous! There is also the Waterside Bistro, which overlooks the river and has a lovely garden area where you can eat and watch the river meander by.
For anyone who loves architecture, the church in Haddington is wonderful. The 14th-century St.Mary's Church is Scotland's largest parish church, and has a fantastic ornate display of gargoyles. Really worth having a look!
There are several places that are a must-visit if you are staying in the area. Lennoxlove House, a historic 13th century house and estate, lies half a mile south of Haddington. Built by the Giffards of Yester, it was originally named Lethington. It was once home to the Maitland family, notably Sir Richard Maitland, and his son William Maitlin, Secretary of State to Mary, Queen of Scots'. The Maitlands left Lennoxlove in the 17th century, and it is now the seat of the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon.
If you use Haddington as a base for your holiday, it is very easy to get to other towns. Edinburgh is a short drive away, as it the lovely coastal town of North Berwick. You can get boat trips out to Bass Rock from there and it is a very quaint fishing town. We even managed a day's excursion across the Forth Bridge and went to Loch Leven in Kinross. It was quite a drive, but really well worth it!
I would certainly like a return visit to Haddington. I would throughly recommend the area to anyone thinking of taking a holiday in East Lothian.