While it’s great that so many visitors come to Edinburgh to explore the city centre, it’s worth bearing in mind that the capital is also a great gateway to the rest of Scotland through fantastic train links. This weekend, Edinburgh became even more connected to the South with the opening of the Borders Railway.
I was one of the very lucky few who was asked along to preview the new service before it opens to the public on the 6th September. There will also be an official royal opening on the 9th, which will be attended by none other than Her Royal Highness The Queen, on the very day she becomes the UK’s longest-ever serving monarch (a wee nugget for you regal fact fans!).
The train departs from Waverley Station and runs through seven towns and communities in Midlothian and the Scottish Borders, namely: Shawfair; Eskbank; Newtongrange; Gorebridge; Stow; Galashiels and Tweedbank.
This opens up a wide range of day trip possibilities to those staying in Edinburgh, with lots of things to see and do in these areas. But to be honest, the beautiful scenic trip on the way down is incredible day trip fodder in its own right!
We stopped off for a wee bit at Newtongrange on the way, home to the National Mining Museum. Scotland has a fascinating mining history, and attractions like these will now be within reach to those without the need for a car. It’s a 20 minute train ride to Newtongrange station on the new Borders Railway line, and then the Mining Museum is just a short walk away.
After around 55 minutes and 30 miles of rail track covered, we arrived at the final stop on the line – Tweedbank, in the heart of the Scottish Borders. We had a fantastic reception waiting for us – three beautiful horses, which were like a little taster of The Ridings that take place in the Scottish Borders during the summer months.
Tweedbank is the stop for literary fans, as just a short walk away you’ll find Abbotsford, the beautiful house and home to famous Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott. It’s quite fitting that the Borders Railway, which departs from Waverley Station, terminates here – the home of the writer who penned the novels that “Waverley” station was named after!
It was nice to spend a little while in Tweedbank, this small town in the Scottish Borders. I enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Herges on the Loch, followed by a lovely wee wander around the man-made Gunknowe Loch, which had some of the most photogenic and chilled-out swans I have ever encountered!
All too soon it was time to join “Sir Walter Scott” on the ride back up to Edinburgh. I don’t know how, but the route got even more scenic on the way back up! The skies were beautiful and blue, it was as if the Borders scenery knew it was the right time to put its best foot forward – we couldn’t have asked for better weather on a day like today.
As it was just a preview day, the train sped through all the stations all the way back up to Edinburgh. It would have been nice to fit in a couple more stops, such as Eskbank, which now makes day trips to the famous Rosslyn Chapel really accessible from Edinburgh by rail. Oh well, I guess that’s one trip I’ll need to make “under my own steam” (haw haw haw) in the very near future!
The Borders Railway, the longest domestic railway to be constructed in the UK for over 100 years, is a welcome addition to Edinburgh’s expansive rail links. As you can see from the pictures above, it is an incredibly beautiful route and its short journey time makes it an absolutely perfect mode of transport for popping down to the Borders on a day trip.
The Borders Railway opens to the public on the 6th September. It will run every half an hour at peak times from Waverley Station. A the time of writing, an adult day return to Tweedbank starts from £11.20. For more information, please take a look at the official Borders Railway website.
Many thanks to my friends at VisitScotland for inviting me on this special trip!