East Lothian Council

Levenhall Links

Information

Soldier beetles on a flowerThe many habitats within and adjacent to this 134 hectare site attract a wide diversity of birds and other wildlife. This provides a year round spectacle and the area is fast becoming Scotland's premier birdwatching site.

How to Get There

On foot

Levenhall Links can be reached from the east side of the mouth of the River Esk in Musselburgh, and along the John Muir Way from Prestonpans.

By car

There is a car park adjacent to the boating pond which can be reached via an access road signposted from the B1348 coast road, approximately one km east of the Levenhall Roundabout.

By Bus

Lothian Buses numbers 15 & 26 pass by Levenhall Links. First Bus numbers 124/X5 and X29/129 all go past the entrance to Levenhall.

By Train

From Edinburgh Waverley, Scotrail runs a regular service to the nearest station, Wallyford. From the station head back towards Musselburgh (along the A199) and then turn right at the roundabout (along the B1348), before finally turning Left through a entrance gate (total distance, one km).  

Birds foot trefoil flowerFacilities

  • a full-time Countryside Ranger co-ordinates the day-to-day management of this site
  • boating pond (by prior arrangement only). Non-motorised craft can use the pond, by booking at Auldhammer House, telephone 01875 818100.
  • Bird Reserve: the main tracks and viewing facilities at the Bird Reserve are accessible to wheelchair users. Please note the hides are open to the elements, so ensure you dress suitably!

Natural History

Birds

Before the 1960's, the area between the mouth of the Esk and Prestongrange was natural foreshore with extensive mussel beds. Lagoons, created by building a seawall to the east of the river mouth, were progressively infilled with waste fly ash from Cockenzie Power Station. As they filled, they have been landscaped and returned to East Lothian Council for public recreation and nature conservation.  

Estuary and sea

Large flocks of oystercatchers and other wading birds, ducks and gulls.The walkway along the sea wall gives excellent views of the Firth of Forth and close observation of these birds. 

Other areas of water

At the active lagoons, where fly ash is still being deposited, the sterile conditions provide almost no bird feeding. However, at high tide, large flocks of wading birds, gulls and, in summer, terns, often visit to roost as the open views allow them to detect and avoid any potential predators. This important site is the only major roost between Cramond and Aberlady.

Even the boating pond, when not being used for recreation, attracts birds: up to 200 wigeon graze on the grassy banks during the winter.

Bird Reservecoot

Shallow pools, lined with clay, have been specially created to attract birds. Water quality and depth are managed to create perfect feeding conditions and screened viewpoints permit close observation without disturbance. Some wading birds, such as redshank, feed here throughout the tidal cycle but others, such as bar-tailed godwit, only visit to roost when the incoming tide forces them off feeding grounds on the Estuary. Some of the many species seen here annually are rarities blown far off-course.

The rich feeding and lack of disturbance encourage birds to linger, and many keen observers at this site ensure that anything unusual is spotted.

Woodland and grassland

Growing conditions here are difficult, but woodlands and grasslands are now established. As these mature, they attract a wide range of wildlife, some of it becoming scarce elsewhere through changes in farming practices. Butterflies, such as the common blue, feed on thistles, brown hares frequent the rough grassland and reed buntings nest in the woodland.

Annual report

For a full description of work carried out on-site please download the annual report.

Block C, Brewery Park, Haddington, EH41 3HA

Telephone: 01620 827279

Fax: 01620 827456

East Lothian Council, John Muir House Brewery Park Haddington East Lothian EH41 3HA.