Edinburgh to Coldstream
Meander through timeless towns all the way to the realm's edge
Follow the route – Edinburgh to Coldstream
Edinburgh to Lothian
> Leave Edinburgh on the A702 and turn right into Hillend Country Park, 5 miles (8km).
Hillend Country Park, Lothian
This is one of two similar parks in the exhilarating Pentland Hills, which rise directly from Edinburgh’s southern suburbs. Footpaths climb steeply to the grassy viewpoint summits of Caerketton and Allermuir, the boyhood hills of Robert Louis Stevenson. These paths link up with others across the rounded passes in the Pentlands, and alongside the many reservoirs that supply the city. Midlothian Snowsports Centre, with its extensive artificial ski-slopes and range of features, is a year-round mountain resort in miniature.
Places to stay in Lothian
Lothian to Peebles
> Continue on the A702, then straight on along the A703 and follow the A701 and B7026 through Auchendinny. Take the A6094 and the A703 again to Peebles.
No development is allowed to encroach upon Peebles’ tree-lined riverside walks by the Tweed, and the town itself has a traditional charm. The Tontine Hotel in the High Street retains the old front yard where stagecoaches used to sweep to a halt. There is a well-stocked Tweeddale Museum, and the Cornice Museum of Ornamental Plasterwork is close by, where you will be encouraged to don wellies and an apron, and try your hand at the craft. Peebles has extensive public parks and an interesting town walk. Medieval Neidpath Castle stands dramatically above an up-river wooded curve of the Tweed, to the west of Peebles. Its walls still show signs of the bombardment in 1650 by Cromwell’s artillery.
Places to stay in Peebles
Peebles to Traquair
> Leave Peebles on the B7062 and turn left for Traquair House.
Twenty generations of Stuart lairds made Traquair House their home, but it dates from well before their time – from 1107 at least – and is the oldest inhabited house in Scotland. Traquair retains mementoes of such famous Stuarts as Mary, Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. As well as having valuable collections of glass, porcelain and embroideries, it is famous for its once derelict 18th-century estate brew-house. In the 1960s, the 20th laird restored the copper, the mash tun, the coolers and fermenters, and now Traquair Ale is brewed in quantities of about 700 barrels every year.
Places to stay in Traquair
Traquair to Innerleithen
> Continue on the B7062 then turn left on the B709 to Innerleithen.
The founder of this little textile town had the idea of using London names so addresses here include The Strand and Bond Street. Cashmere cloth is still woven in Innerleithen’s mills, and the National Trust for Scotland has completely restored Robert Smail’s Printing Works, closed as a family business only in 1986. A tour of this fascinating place recalls the otherwise lost technology of planers, reglets, quoins and sidesticks, and you may be given the chance to hand-set some type. At a glorious viewpoint high in the town, the little blue-and-white spa pavilion of St Ronan’s Well can be found. The spring was originally known as the ‘Doo Well’ because of the number of wood pigeons which frequented the area. St Ronan was thought to be a saint from France or Ireland and was adopted as patron saint of Innerleithen. The well became famous when, in 1824, Sir Walter Scott used it as a setting for his novel St Ronan’s Well.
Places to stay in Innerleithen
Innerleithen to Melrose
> Leave Innerleithen on the A72. Bear right on the A707, then left on the B7060. Turn right on the A7, left on the B6360, right on the A6091, signed to Jedburgh, and left on the B6374 into Melrose.
One of the most pleasant of the Border towns, Melrose is notable for the mellow ruin of its abbey, where the heart of Robert the Bruce is buried, and for Priorwood Garden, in which something like the old monks’ orchard has been revived. Harmony Garden is an attractive walled garden with magnificent views over Melrose Abbey and the Eildon Hills. Two walks explore the town, and the Southern Upland Way includes a lovely riverside stretch along the meadows by the Tweed.
Places to stay in Melrose
Melrose to Kelso
> Leave Melrose on the A6091 signed to Jedburgh. Turn right on to the A68 then left on the A699 and left on the A698 into Kelso.
This is a Border market town with a ruined abbey, the oldest cricket club in Scotland, a racecourse and a reputation for providing some of the best angling beats on the Tweed. Kelso has an elegant Georgian centre, and its cobbled square retains a bull ring – a pattern of stones marking the place where bulls were tethered during livestock sales. Kelso Pottery is well worth a visit. Outside the town, Floors Castle, home of the Duke of Roxburghe, is richly furnished with paintings, tapestries and porcelain, and has a window for every day of the year. This huge mansion was built by William Adam between 1721 and 1725.
Places to stay in Kelso
Kelso to Coldstream
> Leave Kelso on the A698 for Coldstream.
This is the closest Scottish town to the English border. The Coldstream Guards, under an earlier name, were stationed in the town in 1660 when they marched south to assist in the restoration of King Charles II to the throne. There is a museum here dedicated to the regiment and its impressive heritage. Just outside Coldstream, the Hirsel estate has a comprehensive museum and a craft centre, several walks and a colourful collection of rhododendrons in Dundock Wood.