The harbour area is a short walk from the historic town centre and is a busy attraction in its own right. A visit to the harbour area involves three harbours, a ruined castle and a “battery” as well as a huge collection of water craft from fishing boats to kayaks and an occasional visiting seal. the area has a long history with strategic importance at the entrance of the Firth of Forth with the elevated position of the castle established as a defensive outpost from the 7th century.
Dunbar was also once a major herring and whaling port and retains a commercial fleet landing mainly shellfish. The harbour is also home to one of the largest lifeboat stations in the area and a small RNLI shop by the Lifeboat Station.
As there is limited parking in the harbour most people arrive on foot. The best view of the area is from the top of the hill beside the swimming pool, here you can see the Bass Rock and the Isle of May northwards and the expanse of the North Sea toward Norway beyond the harbour walls. On some lucky days dolphins have been spotted in the sea beyond the walls.
Above the harbour are the ruins of Dunbar Castle, once a mighty fortress although it was destroyed as part of an agreement in 1568. The ruins are now home to a large colony of nesting Kittiwakes in the spring and summer months. Some of the castle stone was used in 1842 to create the large “new” or Victoria Harbour which is the main harbour where fishing boats tie up all year round and sailing boats are moored through the summer.
Around the corner is the old Cromwell harbour, which is still in daily use, and dates from 1574. It is much more sheltered than the Victoria Harbour and boats are moved here during winter storms and for some maintenance works. To get here it is best to leave the harbour and walk round via Cromwell Quay or Shore Street – access to East Beach is also possible from here at low tide.
The area between the two harbours is called Broadhaven or Lamerhaven and was once the original channel that gave access to the old harbour. It is now blocked off from the sea and access to boats is through the Victoria Harbour and through the bascule bridge (which opens upwards).
Crossing this bridge visitors can access Lamer Island, the recently renovated battery and the walkway alongside the sea wall. The history if the Battery is told in paving stones on the path towards its entrance. The battery is now an outdoor arts venue and garden with wonderful views across the North Sea.
Throughout the summer months this harbour is also used as the departure point for a number of activities: boat tours, coasteering and SUP tours, kayaking trips, the Dunbar coastal rowing club and local scuba diving club.
Visitors to the harbour area will find a great many information boards around the area and some take away food outlets. The Harbour Trust also produces a regular newsletter which is perfect for keeping in touch with what is going on, sign up by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blue Wild (Boat tours to the Bass Rock and Isle of May)
C2C Surf School and Ocean Vertical (SUP and coasteering tours)
East Lothian Divers (Diving Club)