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THE LOTHIANS AND THE BORDERS
Edinburgh and the Lothians – capital city and capital countryside.
Edinburgh is Scotland's capital and you have lots of attractions to choose from. The Castle, which towers over Princes Street, takes time to explore properly, but on your list should also be the National Museum of Scotland, the Museum of Childhood, the Royal Yacht Britannia and the Royal Botanic Garden. Several of our parks are close to good train and bus links - Morthonhall, Tantallon, Pease Bay, Thurston Manor and Belhaven.
At the harbour in North Berwick is the Scottish Seabird Centre, where on live camera you can watch up close thousands of seabirds (gannets and puffins) on the Bass Rock,and grey seals. Along the coast near Dunbar, there are coastal paths and a choice of sandy beaches in the John Muir Park. Stay at Belhaven, Pease Bay, Thurston Manor and, further down the coast, Coldingham Bay..
If castles are your main interest, then visit Tantallon Castle on the cliff-top near North Berwick; now a ruin but the short walk form the car-park is well rewarded. Dirleton Castle and Garden has the added interest of the longest herbaceous border in the world; it is glorious in the summer.
The Borders stretches from the east coast right across to the M74 in the west. The scenery is farmland, moorland and woods.remote castles such as Hermitage, near Newcastleton. Other castles and historic houses are easier to reach – Manderston,, Abbotsford and Traquair, a few miles from Peebles ( visited by 27 Scottish monarchs and with a small brewery) The gardens and abbeys are worth visiting; make sure you include Kailzie Garden on your trip, as well as Dawyck Botanic Garden, and the National Trust for Scotland's Priorwood Garden in Melrose. In the 12th century, King David I of Scotland, founded several abbeys and eight hundred years later, although now ruins, theyprovide a haven for peaceful reflection – Kelso, Dryburgh, Jedburgh and Melrose, where the heart of Robert the Bruce lies buried. In Melrose you can also visit the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, a building which, in the Middle Ages, was the Abbey's brewery.
Historic Scotland: In the Borders are four of the most historic of Scotland's abbeys: Dryburgh, Melrose, Kelso and Jedburgh. All in the care of Historic Scotland, as are Hermitage Castle and Smailholm Tower, which recall the days of the swash-buckling Border Reivers. The Borders' Explorer Pass is great value for money and is available from the Historic Scotland properties in the Borders or at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/explorer
View the Thistle Holiday Parks in Edinburgh, the Lothians & the Borders