Length 89 miles / 143 km
The only tourist route that begins outside Scotland, the Borders Historic Route picks up near Carlisle before passing into the lush countryside of the Scottish Borders. Follow the route to Edinburgh and explore the charming villages you pass en route before reaching Scotland’s historic capital city.
Clan Aarmstrong Centre at Gilnockie Tower
History, mystery and a whole world of discovery await you at this enthralling Scottish pele tower.
As you venture through the south of Scotland, it’s only fitting that your first stop should present the opportunity to uncover thrilling, tumultuous borderlands history! Gilnockie Tower is a fine defensive peeltower which dates from the 16th century. Located on the River Esk, its home to the Clan Armstrong Centre, the ancestral home of the Armstrong Clan and is packed with fascinating clan heritage. From the upper walkway you can see as far as the English border. You can also explore the village of Langholm, or venture to the striking MacDiarmid Memorial, a huge metallic sculpture in the form of an open book located on a nearby hillside. This monument is dedicated to one of the most famous Scottish poets, Hugh MacDiarmid.
Borders Textile Towerhouse
Learn about the famous Scottish Borders’ textile industry, including knitwear and tweed.
Pop into the Borders Textile Towerhouse to discover more about the area’s role as a producer of sought-after textiles. Designers such as Chanel, Dior and Vivienne Westwood have used fabric produced in the Borders in their designs. You can learn more about this, and the process involved in making the fabrics, at the Towerhouse’s innovative displays and exhibitions. While you’re in Hawick, why not stop by the Tower Mill to grab a bite to eat or see a movie? Or head to Johnstons of Elgin’s Hawick mill to see the craftsmanship that goes into producing fine cashmere products.
Lochcarron of Scotland
See tartan being woven from scratch.
Lochcarron of Scotland is one of the biggest names in the Scottish Borders’ textile industry and has been weaving high quality tartan for over 100 years. They’ve designed tartan for celebrities (including Shrek!) and their textiles have appeared on the runway in various designer collections, including Ralph Lauren and Burberry. Go on a mill tour to see tartan being woven from scratch, relax with a coffee and a slice of cake and pick up uniquely Scottish gifts to take home.
Lindean Mill Glass
Watch the glassblowers at work making glasses, plates and glass panels.
This innovative glass studio was established in 1978 by David Kaplan and Annica Sandström, who have built an international reputation for their exquisite tableware and collections of vessels, plates and glass panels. Their work has even been exhibited at the National Museum Scotland in Edinburgh, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow and the V&A Museum in London. Pop into Lindean Mill Glass to see the glassblowers at work in the glass studio and browse colourful glassware in the gallery. Nearby, golfers can enjoy a round at Selkirk Golf Club.
Tour the former home of the famous Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott.
Stop off at Abbotsford, the former home of the famous Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, and stretch your legs with a stroll around the mature woodland that Scott himself planted. Pop into the visitor centre to learn more about this great man’s life and the legacy he left in building this stunning house, before taking a tour of the house itself. Other fascinating historic houses in the area include Floors Castle and Gardens and Traquair House (which are both about 30 minutes off route) or you could head to Galashiels to see the exhibitions at Old Gala House Museum.
National Mining Museum Scotland
Experience the sights and sounds of a working Victorian coal mine.
Step inside the huge compound of Lady Victoria Colliery, one of the best surviving Victorian collieries in Europe and now the National Mining Museum Scotland. See the machinery used to mine and lift coal to the surface, learn about what life was like for the miners and experience the sights and sounds of a working pit on a tour of the pithead. Other attractions in the area include stunning Rosslyn Chapel, which featured in the Da Vinci Code, or Vogrie Country Park, which is perfect for an outdoor stroll through leafy woodland.
Sample local beer or pick up bottles to take home.
Pop into this independent craft brewery on the outskirts of Edinburgh to enjoy a locally brewed beer at The Brewery Tap. You might even see the team hard at work brewing while you enjoy your beer! Pick up some bottles to take home in the shop or, for an in-depth look behind the scenes, book onto an evening tour on Thursday or Friday or pop along from 12 – 4 on Saturday for a drop in tour. For something a little more active, why not head to Midlothian Snowsports Centre to practice your skills on the dry ski slopes?
Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World
Walk amongst hundreds of jewel coloured butterflies.
Step into an indoor tropical rainforest and enjoy the sight of hundreds of jewel coloured butterflies fluttering around you at Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World. Wander around the paths in this tropical hothouse and count how many different types of butterfly you can spot. As well as the butterflies in the hothouse you’ll also see snakes, iguanas, fish, tarantulas and even glowing scorpions. Listen to a butterfly talk from the keepers, take part in animal handling and see the fish and terrapins being fed.
Dalkeith Country Park
Get active on the cycling and walking trails and kids adventure playground.
Enjoy a family adventure at Dalkeith Country Park, which boasts a fantastic children’s adventure playground, known as Fort Douglas, the stunning Restoration Yard café and store, which is located in the former stables, and waymarked walking and cycling routes around the 1,000 acre estate. Look out for deer, foxes and birds as you explore! Also in Dalkeith, pop into Dalkeith Museum at the Corn Exchange in the town centre to learn about the fascinating history of this centuries’ old village.
Tour Scotland’s most famous castle and see the Scottish crown jewels.
Scotland’s most famous castle needs little introduction. Set atop Castle Rock (an extinct volcanic plug) this beauty is the crowning glory of Edinburgh’s skyline. Visit Edinburgh Castle to tour the historic rooms and see the Scottish crown jewels – known as the Honours of Scotland – in person. Your ticket also grants you free entry to the National War Museum and the Royal Scots Regimental Museum, where you’ll see uniforms and artefacts from times gone by. During your time in Edinburgh you’ll find plenty of attractions to explore. The National Museum Scotland (free) boasts stunning displays of fascinating objects. Kids will love a trip to Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions or Our Dynamic Earth too.