Bordering on a new Golden Age of rail
From mining to movies, literature to landscapes, bicycling to butterflies and wool to watermills, the Borders Railway will open up some of the most remarkable regions in Europe to the world as services begin this weekend.
Scotland’s newest scenic Railway - which will begin its first full day of public service on Sunday 6 September - will take local, national and international visitors on a journey into new landscapes, to discover iconic attractions, such as Rosslyn Chapel, Abbotsford House, the National Mining Museum Scotland, Melrose Abbey and more.
To celebrate this key moment in history, on Friday 4 September, Scottish Borders-turned-global fashion brand, Pringle of Scotland joined VisitScotland to launch this exciting new journey with supermodel, Edinburgh International Fashion Festival Founder and current Pringle muse) Anna Freemantle, dressed in the textiles that made the Scottish Borders globally famous.
The Borders Railway will take passengers on a 30 mile, 55 minute journey from Edinburgh through Midlothian to Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders - three distinct regions, each with their own story to tell:
-GREAT SCOTT – AN EDINBURGH EPIC
With trains leaving frequently from Waverley Station, it is hoped that the 3.4 million visitors that come to Edinburgh every year will see the Borders Railway as a must-see attraction to add to their itineraries. Worldwide interest in Sir Walter Scott will be a huge draw, as visitors can follow in the footsteps of the renowned writer, starting in Edinburgh with The Scott Monument and The Writers’ Museum, before taking the Borders Railway through the landscapes that inspired his writing. At the end of the journey, there’s Abbotsford (just a short walk from Tweedbank) where a new award-winning visitor centre tells Scott’s remarkable story, from his birth in Edinburgh in 1771 to the cultural legacy he left to Scotland and the world.
-MINING, MOVIES AND MEANDRES IN MIDLOTHIAN
For many visitors, the Borders Railway will open up a region of Scotland they’ve only seen on the big screen. The Da Vinci Code brought to life the wonder and mystery of Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian. The film revealed this breathtaking attraction to the world and the Chapel became an overnight phenomenon with a jump in visitor numbers. Just a short taxi shuttle ride or cycle from Eskbank station, it is hoped the Railway will bring even more visitors to this stunning location.
The Chapel is not the only blockbusting spectacle in the region. Hop off the train at Newtongrange, just 20 minutes from Edinburgh, to discover the award-winning National Mining Museum Scotlandwhere visitors can see the largest steam engine in the country, or hear anecdotes from real former miners on a guided tour of the pithead.
For peace and tranquillity, visitors can wander the grounds of striking Newbattle Abbey, or delve into the open countryside of Gore Glen Woodland Park and Vogrie Country Park. The more adventurous can channel their inner Harry Potter with owl encounters, hawk walks and archery at Dalhousie Castle or even their inner David Attenborough with an intrepid walk through Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World at Eskbank. From 4 – 13 September, visitors can also encounter Midfest, a week-long celebration of arts and culture coinciding with the launch of the brand new railway.
As the Railway sweeps into the Scottish Borders, few could fail to be impressed by the breathtaking untouched landscapes as rolling hills, babbling rivers and quaint villages grace each side of the carriage.
Day visitors can easily reach Abbotsford House, just minutes from Tweedbank Station. A jewel in the crown of Scottish architecture, this luxurious mansion was once home to Sir Walter Scott and guests can explore the elegant rooms where he hosted literary glitterati such as Oscar Wilde and Charlotte Brontë, or discover his life and legacy in the visitor centre.
Also near Tweedbank, rail passengers can discover Melrose Abbey. Founded by King David I in 1136, the Abbey is famed as the burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart. Nearby, the beautifully kept Harmony Garden and Priorwood Garden are filled with colourful blooms. Enjoy a long walk (around 30 minutes) from Tweedbank Station to visit the Abbey, or take advantage of the frequent public transport.
Visitors staying overnight in the great accommodation on offer near the Borders Railway can spend time exploring quaint villages like Stow and Heriot, or discover beautiful Borders Abbeys, such as Jedburgh and Dryburgh. Walkers and cyclists will enjoy the Borders Abbeys Way, a 109-km route passing all the abbeys plus the historic towns of Hawick and Selkirk, and the beautiful St Cuthbert’s Way, one of Scotland’s Great Trails, which begins in Melrose.
Fabrics produced in the Scottish Borders, such as tartan, tweed, wool and cashmere have made their way into the collections of some of the world’s top fashion houses including Chanel, Dior and Vivienne Westwood. Visitors can take a bus to the Borders Textile Towerhouse in Hawick to see some of the famous textiles and get a glimpse of future trends.
Other unmissable attractions in the area near the Railway include Floors Castle, a spectacular stately home with beautiful gardens and grounds. And, of course, visitors to the Scottish Borders must not leave without experiencing the world-class mountain bike trails at the 7stanes centres such as Newcastleton, Glentress and Innerleithen and the sheer spectacle of the Return to the Ridings (May-Aug only).
From walking and accommodation packages to special restaurant menus and shuttle services, businesses along the new Borders Railway route have been making the most of encouraging visitors to the new tourism destinations in Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders. VisitScotland is supporting attractions, accommodation providers, local producers and pubs and restaurants in the vicinity of the Borders Railway in developing news ideas, products and experiences.
Special steam train journeys along the Borders Railway line will also be available every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from Thursday 10 September until Sunday 18 October, giving visitors the chance to experience the full return journey from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank in the comfort of a beautifully refurbished vintage steam train carriage. This service is only available for six weeks and tickets begin at £40 per adult and £20 per child aged under 16.
Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland said:
“The golden age of rail has definitely returned to Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders! The start of services on the Borders Railway is a truly historic moment for Scotland, the UK and the world, bringing to back to life these regions that played such an integral role in the forming of many of Scotland’s now global industries.
“Born in the Scottish Borders myself, and with family heavily involved in the textile industry, the commencement of services on this Railway is of particular poignancy to me. I have no doubt that the Borders Railway will be a success, not only as a tourism destination, but also as a catalyst for growth, investment and business.
“From rolling hills to babbling streams, mining landscapes to historic abbeys, chapels, castles and treasures, VisitScotland is embarking on a national and international marketing and PR campaign to encourage visitors to experience all the Borders Railway has to offer and we cannot wait to show the world.”
The Borders Railway begins service on Saturday 5 September with a special ‘Golden Ticket’ Day. Public service will begin on 6 September. On 9 September, HM The Queen will officially open the Railway with a special steam train trip, which also marks the day she becomes Britain’s longest-serving monarch.
The project is being delivered as part of the ‘Borders Railway Blueprint’, that sets out an ambition to fully realise the economic benefits of the Borders Railway, transform tourism opportunities and open up communities in South-East Scotland as new places to live, work, learn, play and grow.
The original Waverley Route ran south from Edinburgh, through Midlothian and the Scottish Borders, to Carlisle. The line was named after a series of novels by Sir Walter Scott and served as an important export channel for both the wool and coal industries of that time.
Learn more about what can be discovered in Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders at www.visitscotland.com. For more information on the Borders Railway, please visit www.bordersrailway.co.uk To book tickets for the Borders Railway, visit www.scotrail.co.uk