Exploring Food and Drink - from the Borders Railway

With farmers markets, food-themed walking tours and venues for connoisseurs of spirits, Scotland’s capital has plenty of choice. And within easy reach of Midlothian’s stations there are some ‘hidden gems’ - cafes and restaurants where the emphasis is on good Scottish local produce. This theme continues the length of the railway line: Scottish Borders folk are certainly good food enthusiasts, supporting a wide range of quality delis and all kinds of local and artisan food businesses. 

Food and drink themed travel trade itinerary 

Day 1

If it’s the weekend,  then make sure to take in one of Edinburgh’s foodie street markets: Saturdays for the Edinburgh Farmers Market (Castle Terrace -  with over 50 specialist producers every week ) or try the markets in Leith or the Grassmarket; Head for Stockbridge Market or try Fountainbridge Market on a Sunday (it also does ‘Street Food Fridays’). Later, sample a walking tour with Eat Walk Edinburgh or get an insight into gin-making on the Edinburgh Gin Distillery Tour. (NB your clients could do both as Eat Walk Edinburgh offer evening tours on certain days.) Overnight Edinburgh or Dalkeith area

Day 2

Head south of the city to enjoy coffee and cake while exploring the Secret Herb Garden plus they run monthly Full Moon Dinners with top guest chefs as well as Fairy Walks aimed at children. Enjoy browsing in their shop for vintage home and garden goodies and books then head to the conservation village of Lasswade for lunch at The Paper Mill which overlooks the River Esk. Try their Eat Local themed lunch deal on offer Monday to Friday. In the afternoon discover the creative process of designing beer recipes and flavours on a brewery tour at Stewart Brewing in nearby Loanhead. Overnight Lasswade/Bonnyrigg or Edinburgh area.

Day 3

In the morning head south to the village of St Boswells in the Scottish Borders to visit The Main Street Trading Company to discover a world of books, coffee and shopping. Explore their deli and fascinating home ware shop too. They also run a literary and musical event programme. Later, continue to Born in the Borders – this food-themed visitor centre is located next to the Scottish Borders Brewery near Jedburgh. Browse in the food hall for local foods and gifts, enjoy a coffee or meal in the restaurant, take a riverside walk, a picnic or even take another brewery tour! Later in the afternoon drive on to Hawick to visit the artisan food and drink business Turnbull’s of Hawick, family run since 1855. Here you can buy their famous whisky blend ‘Turnbull’s Celebrated Blend’ – a closely-guarded family secret! They also have a delicatessen and popular coffee house. Larger groups will need to call in advance. Overnight Hawick or Galashiels area

Food and Drink Theme Listings:

Edinburgh Farmers Market

When the idea of a farmers market took off, it very quickly established itself in Edinburgh. It’s now been growing for fifteen years. A great venue: Castle Terrace with the crags of Edinburgh Castle as a backdrop; and a great rating: Lloyd Grossman rates it as one of world’s best farmers markets. There are over 50 specialist producers are here every week, with a huge variety of local produce, mostly grown or reared by the stallholders themselves.

Further Information: Edinburgh Farmers Market

Distance from nearest station: Waverley, 1 mile / 1.6 km

Suitable for G & FIT

Eat Walk Edinburgh Tours

A five-star foodie experience of Edinburgh that delivers a really different approach to local restaurants, bars and shops and the city’s food heritage. Each walking tour features at least five tasting stops with three accompanied by a drink tasting. In between the venues the guide relates quirky historical stories about Edinburgh. Private or tailor-made tours also available.

Further information: Eat Walk Edinburgh

Distance from station: a short walk from Waverley.

Suitable for G & FIT

Edinburgh Gin Distillery Tours

In the heart of the west end of Princes Street, discover the world of secret flavourings, botanicals, juniper and what goes on in the basement. Downstairs there are two gin stills, upstairs there is a lively bar. Learn from the expertise of the distillers who take clients on a tour into the mysteries of gin-making. Three different levels of tour and tuition are available.

Distance from station: Waverley 1 mile / 1.6km

Further information: Edinburgh Gin Distillery

Suitable for G & FIT

Stewart Brewing

This is a traditional yet innovative brewing company that acknowledges Edinburgh’s long brewing heritage. Located in the outskirts of the city, the tours start with samples and snacks, and then a walk-through from start to finish of the beer-making process, followed by a return to the bar where some brewing experts will share some of their brewing secrets. Their innovative Craft Beer Kitchen is Scotland's first brew-it-yourself facility where you can brew your own masterpiece!

Further informationStewart Brewing

Distance from station: Eskbank 4.5 miles / 7 km

Suitable for G & FIT 

The Secret Herb Garden

This is where your clients can discover a specialist herb nursery at the foot of the Pentland Hills on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Visitors can explore the gardens bordered by native hedgerow or enjoy the herbs in the glasshouse. There is also a café and shop. And, when the moon is in the right phase, there are ‘Full Moon Dinners’ – a creative dining experience within the garden hosted by guest chefs.

Further information: The Secret Herb Garden

Distance from station: Eskbank 5.6 miles / 9km; Newtongrange 6.8 miles / 11km

Suitable for G & FIT

The Paper Mill at Lasswade.

An all-day bar and restaurant serving local produce situated in a former paper mill. This area of the Esk Valley once had ten paper mills, creating top quality paper from imported esparto grass. All the papermaking has now gone and the valley of the River Esk is a peaceful place. Your clients will see this for themselves at this striking, yet informal venue, designed to be sympathetic to the village’s historical surroundings. Open all day till late for drinks and meals.

Further informationThe Papermill-Lasswade

Distance from station: Eskbank 2 miles 3 km

Suitable for G & FIT

Born in the Borders

Two venues, both constantly changing showcases for the very best of Borders produce. Simple and delicious but also inventive and innovative - the philosophy behind the cuisine, but, best of all, using produce that all but redefines ‘local’; as many of the ingredients that go into the dishes come from not just ‘local’ Borders producers, but literally from the fields, woods, and hills around the site. Main cafe, restaurant, shop and brewery at Lanton Mill, near Jedburgh 

Further information: Born in The Borders

Distance from station: Tweedbank 14 miles / 22 km (Jedburgh venue); the other Born in the Borders venue is in the Galashiels Transport Interchange building opposite the railway station.

Suitable for G & FIT

Turnbull’s (Hawick)

This delicatessen and coffee house is a reminder that discriminating palates and food enthusiasts have been a part of the Borders community for generations. The old-established family firm of Turnbull’s goes back to 1855, and were originally notable importers of fine foods and wines, as well as supplying their own brand of sought-after whisky. Today, they sell carefully selected and wide-ranging products, both local sourced and cosmopolitan. Their coffee house is especially notable. Also with a branch in Galashiels.

Further information: Turnbull’s

Nearest station: Tweedbank 17 miles / 27 km

Suitable for G & FIT

The Main Street Trading Company

It’s a bookshop with a cafe, delicatessen and interesting artisan home ware shop attached. Set in the pretty village of St Boswells, this local business is a hit with locals and visitors who come to browse amazing range of books, enjoy the cafe and buy local quality food and gifts. Main Street Trading also won Deli of the Year in 2014.

Further information: The Main Street Trading Company

Nearest station: Tweedbank 7 miles / 11 km
Suitable for G & FIT 

Some more useful food and drink links: