Live Local with Eastside’s Jenny Cowan

by Scotland Starts Here, 18th August 2020
Live Local with Eastside’s Jenny Cowan

In Live Local with… Midlothian and Scottish Borders locals share their favourite places, from restaurants and shops to walks, views and more. The series is about all the things – big and small – that make living and working in the area so special. Read on and join in with our communities. It may lead you to incredible hidden gems to explore on your next day out.

Jenny is a partner in Eastside Cottages. She runs the busy agritourism business alongside the hill sheep farm with her parents and partner Michael. The farm runs over 3,000 acres taking in some of the most picturesque places in the Pentland Hills Regional Park. Hidden up a quiet glen is the storybook Eastside farmstead where old-world hill farm and beautiful accommodation intertwine. Guests occasionally wake to a hundred sheep peering in the kitchen window, having been gathered down from the hills at dawn.

Let us in on your secrets, Jenny. What are some of your favourite local places?

We feel extremely lucky to live and work at Eastside. It’s partly why we love to share it with our guests, showing them the best hiking routes and picnic spots or what wildlife or farmwork they might spot along their way. Guests gaining a real experience of the landscape and place is just as important to us as the homely cottages, wood-burning stoves and wood-fired hot tubs to return to. 

Pentland Peaks

Our favourite walks start right from the cottage door. One of the best ways to experience the Pentland Hills has to be looking down over the rich patchwork of flora & fauna from the peaks. From the hilltop vantage, you can look north beyond the Pentland range to the famous Forth bridges and Highland mountains or south to the Border hills. Descend into the picturesque Flotterstone glen for a well-earned pint at the local.

Living in this fantastic location also means that we’re right on the border with Edinburgh and West Lothian. The Pentlands is where the three areas meet – even though you’d never notice when you’re out and about. It’s well worth exploring the hills’ hidden gems, no matter the council area: 

To the West of the Pentland range lies Little Sparta, the garden and life’s work of sculptor and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay. The garden is one of the most important works of Scottish Art yet remains one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets. Exploring the gardens feels very special; you are usually one of very few there. There is humour, surprise and beautiful vistas out over the hills. 

Hidden on the North of the hills lies the old Cockdurno farmstead imaginatively converted into the most magical supper club – the Free Company. Drinks are served under canvas with a blazing fire pit and supper on long tables in the old barn. Brothers Angus and Charlie embrace true field to fork dining producing the majority of the pork and veggies themselves. Opening for a couple of weeks every season, it is well worth the wait. 

Pentland Hills Regional Park – Edinburgh

The park has 100km of waymarked paths, including challenging hill walks and routes more suitable for families

Robert Smail’s Printing Works

Run by the National Trust for Scotland the printing workshop has been preserved but still working much as it was in 1866. Hidden behind the old original shopfront in Innerleithen is a letterpress treasure trove. The tours of the print shop are fantastic, letting you typeset, ink, print and get your hands dirty. Additionally, the 52 giant guard books showcasing almost every item printed provide an impressive social history of the area. 

Robert Smail's Printing Works – Innerleithen

Oldest working commercial letterpress printers in the UK – a living museum of Victorian history.

Lust & the Apple

Lust & the Apple is a small but perfectly formed gallery space in the village of Temple. Here, Paul Robertson, who works as an international curator, invites four artists each quarter to exhibit works. It’s cool, it’s quirky, and it’s different every visit. And afterwards, Temple itself is well worth a wander, too.

The Secret Herb Garden

One of our favourite spots for lunch is The Secret Herb Garden, tables hidden amongst the herbs in the glasshouses. Herbal teas that have been grown and dried on site are a must, while the delicious quiches and cakes are sprinkled with edible flowers.

The Secret Herb Garden – Lothianburn

We are a specialist Herb Nursery nestled at the foot of the Pentland hills on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Do you have any favourite spots or personal highlights in Midlothian and the Borders? Let us know the places that make the area feel like home for you!