Binning Wood lies to the west of the A198 which runs between North Berwick and the A1. If you are approaching along the A1 from the west it is worth taking the A199 and then the B1407 to travel through East Linton and Tyninghame Village. Both are very attractive, with many of the typical features of East Lothian habitations. As one 19th century source has it: “East Lothian is far before most of Scotland in the neatness of its peasant homes”. Is it the Anglo-Saxon influence that has left streets that bend quirkily and houses that group cosily in ways different from most Scottish towns? If that isn’t too far-fetched, then what is it in the native red sandstone, pink limewash and characteristic orange roof tiles that gives East Lothian a touch of Tuscany when the sun shines?
Tyninghame itself is a model estate village. Now deservedly a conservation area, the village was moved wholesale to its present position from a site further to the east in order that the Earl of Haddington could look out on formal gardens rather the houses of his tenants.
There is good parking at N56 00.474 W 002 39.008 access on the road between Lawhead and Newbyth (signposted from the East Linton to Tyninghame road).
Long before you and I started worrying about global warming the landowners of Britain started to think about (re) planting forests. The credit for planting in this part of the world is given to Thomas Hamilton the 6th Earl of Haddington who was concerned that the tree cover on his estates had been reduced by generations of clearing and felling. It was his wife, Lady Helen Hope, who was the real power behind the planting in Tyninghame Estate. Her early successes in growing trees on what was regarded as most unpromising land convinced Thomas to begin planting in earnest and he covered what had been Tyninghame Muir with a fine forest, whose successor we can now explore.
In the style of the Augustan period, the woodland was developed in a series of formal walks and rides. The pattern of circles and paths we can still see today follows the original plan.
An Edwardian travel guide to Scotland describes the area as follows: “After Tyninghame the highway runs through a fine stretch of woodland. Of old this was bare moor, but the sixth Earl of Haddington, at the beginning of last century, set to work to plant on a great scale. As one master schemed and directed everything was done with method. Great avenues of trees led to a glade, and thick holly hedges rose in double walks or avenues, now alone and again interspersed with other trees. The late Queen was here in 1878 and confessed it reminded her of Windsor and Windsor Forest. Her Majesty was happy in her visit. Three years afterwards, on the 14th October 1881, a storm of almost inexplicable violence burst on the forest, destroying some 30,000 trees and marring the symmetry of the whole.”
There have been depredations since, and you will find on your travels a record of a more recent wholesale clearance of Binning Wood. It was replanted on the original plan by the 12th Earl of Haddington, who, for reasons of economy, used rather more conifers than his illustrious forebear. Although no longer part of the Tyninghame Estate, the Wood is still kept open for public enjoyment.
On the Trail
Binning Wood has three circular clearings which are linked by radiating paths. You need to visit each of the clearings to gain information to lead you to the final cache location. Take care! Navigation in the wood can be tricky! It is a wood, so tree cover can interfere with sattelite reception. However, the clues are within clearings and the final location gives a sufficiently clear view of the sky. By the same token it is open to observation, so take care when retrieving and re-hiding the cache.
1st Circle: N56.00.778 W002.38.128
In the centre of the circle is a stone pillar with a plaque which records the history of the wood. It comprises an area of ABC Acres and the first planting was begun in 1D0E. The wood was clear felled in 1939-45 as part of the war effort. The replanting, begun in 1954, was completed in 1960.
Bruce’s Circle: N56.00.982 W002.38.184
In the centre of this circle is a single tree. What species is it? Let the number of letters in the name be F
3rd Circle N56.00.800 W002.38.492
In the centre of this circle is a tree surrounded by a number of other trees. How many trees in total? Let this number be G. There are also posts by the central tree. How many? Let this number be H.
The Final Location
The cache is concealed at:
N56.00.MNO W002.38.XYZ where:
M = F
N = H-C
O = G
X = D
Y = C
Z = E