|To:||Tranent Bypass (NT404736)|
|Distance:||22.7 miles (36.5 km)|
|Meets:||A199, B1407, B1346, B1347, B1345, A6137, B1348, B1377, B6363, B6371, B1361, A1|
|Old route now:||B1345, B1361|
|Route outline (key)|
The A198, about 23 miles long and wholly within East Lothian, provides a pleasant loop round the part of the coast where the Firth of Forth becomes the North Sea. It used to start and end on the A1, and though it still does at the western end, this is not at the same place as the original junction. The eastern end is now on the A199, as that road has taken the line of the now-diverted A1. The only town of any size along the way is the seaside resort of North Berwick.
Section 1: Tyninghame - North Berwick
The road begins a mile south of the pleasant estate village of Tyninghame and is level until the River Tyne is crossed just before the village, where the B1407 heads off to the left for East Linton, after which the road is a switchback until a sharp left bend round a corner of a large wood. The couple of miles so far have been dead straight, but from here to North Berwick 6 miles away there are frequent bends and easy rises and falls.
Shortly we come to the small village of Whitekirk. The road winds past some cottages then makes a sharp right-hand bend just to the south of the church, which is made of red sandstone, but used to be limewashed, hence the name of the village. The church was severely damaged after being burnt by suffragettes in 1914, but has now been restored. The lane to the left would takes us into the centre of the village, but following the A198 to the right leads to open countryside with occasional distant sea views.
Approaching North Berwick, there are three right-angled bends (left, right, left) in the space of a mile as our direction changes from north to west and an open sea view appears. On the right the magnificent ruins of Tantallon Castle are seen on a clifftop. Just to the north offshore is the Bass Rock, which has a famous gannet sanctuary (in the nesting season, the density of birds and guano is so great that it appears white) and a lighthouse. Boat trips to it and other local islands are run from North Berwick harbour. As we near the town with the road falling gently, our view consists of (North) Berwick Law (a large volcanic plug oddly like a whale when seen side-on), the buildings by the harbour below, then in the firth the islands of Fidra, Lamb and Craigleith, with the Kingdom of Fife just across the water, and straight ahead in the distance, Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh and the Forth bridges beyond.
Entering the town, on the right there is a well-appointed caravan park sharing the spectacular view just described, then a roundabout serving a supermarket on the left, then shortly another roundabout at the bottom of a spur of the Law. To the left an unclassified road climbs steeply on the way to, among other places, Whitekirk via the inland route. It is a feature of East Lothian that there is rarely a straight road between places any distance apart, so there are often at least two equally-short routes.
Section 2: North Berwick - Tranent
Our road has a long, straight, level stretch until it crosses the B1347 North Berwick to Haddington road at traffic lights, then goes downhill through a series of bends and passes the station before reaching another left-hand TOTSO with the B1346, this one with traffic lights and west of the town centre. The road is now much straighter and level again as it passes substantial houses and flats and a filling station before entering open country.
In a mile the village of Dirleton is reached, with another impressive ruined castle visible as we bypass the village to the south, along one of very few changes to the road's route over the years. The pre-bypass road through Dirleton is now the B1345, rejoining the A198 at the end of the bypass and then shortly leaving on the left for Drem, whose station is the place on the ECML where the North Berwick spur joins. A helpful signpost here on the A198 has led to some mock protests ("lead us not into Drem station").
Gullane, a much larger village, comes after Dirleton, and has not been bypassed. On the edge we have the Scottish Fire Service training college and the road to Muirfield golf course, then comes the long main street, then at the far end golf courses on both sides of the road: that on the right on a low hill and that on the left giving distant views of the Lammermuirs and of the Garleton Hills just north of Haddington, with the prominent Hopetoun Monument on top.
More bends in the road bring us to Aberlady Bay, a nature reserve and feeding place for innumerable birds. At low tide there is a huge expanse of sand and mud; at high tide the water comes to within a few yards of the road. Immediately after, the village of Aberlady has a sharp left-right, at the second of which the A6137 leaves on the left for Haddington. Then comes a main street with a number of attractive old houses and cottages.
Now we cut inland across a small peninsula, with the high wall and woods of the Gosford House estate to the left, before rejoining the coast with extensive views of Edinburgh and beyond, and the nearer landmark of the twin chimneys of Cockenzie Power Station. The road curves between the estate wall and the sea before reaching the area of dunes called Longniddry Bents, where there is a TOTSO to the left, with the B1348 continuing ahead along the shore to Port Seton, Cockenzie, Prestonpans and Musselburgh.
The estate wall has come with us to the left, but the houses of Longniddry now appear to the right. This is now a dormitory town for Edinburgh and has few shops and no secondary school, but is a stop on the Edinburgh – North Berwick train service. Longniddry was the junction for the now-closed railway spur to Haddington, to where the trackbed has been converted into a foot and cycle path. The station (by now on the ECML) is where our road in from the coast meets the B1377 from Drem at a roundabout, at which the A198 turns right then runs almost to its end just to the north of the railway. On our way out of Longniddry, the B6363 goes under the railway on the left for Pencaitland, then shortly there is a mile of D2 built for no obvious reason, passing the historic Seton Collegiate Church on the right and an automatic-barrier level crossing over the ECML to the left. The land to the left was recently used for opencast coal extraction and is now scheduled for a large housing development.
Less than a mile from the end of the D2 stretch we come to a roundabout where the B6371 for Cockenzie is to the right and the B1361 for Prestonpans and Wallyford straight on. The A198 turns left, crosses over the railway and shortly ends at an overbridge junction with the A1 Expressway as it bypasses Tranent to the north. This last stretch is a multiplex with the B6371, which now continues south past the A1 for Tranent and Ormiston.
The A198 used to continue along the line of the B1361 through Prestonpans to end at Strawberry Corner crossroads north of Wallyford, with the A6094 straight on for Dalkeith, and the A1 (now A199) left and right for Tranent and Musselburgh respectively. This junction is now a roundabout, notable for the ECML passing directly underneath. With the construction of the Tranent bypass the A198 was diverted that way, along a short section of B6371.
Original Author(s): Ian 198