Take the Train – Seven destinations in the South of Scotland

by Sara Barton, 7th June 2023
Sustainable Travel Series | Train Travel | Borders Railway Credit: VS/DN Anderson
Take the Train – Seven destinations in the South of Scotland

Who doesn’t love taking the train? That wonderful feeling of gliding through an ever-changing panorama of vistas. It frees up so much time, allowing you to relax, put the working week behind you and chill before the adventures that lie ahead of you. No worries about where to park the car and there is something oddly romantic about arriving at a train station… Add to this that it is a more sustainable way to travel and frankly, what is not to love?

The South of Scotland has plenty of areas accessible by train from England and central Scotland. Departing from Edinburgh, the Borders Railway was reopened in 2015 having been shut for more than 40 years, allowing access to the heart of the Borders – an ideal escape for an eco-conscious traveller. Also accessible from Edinburgh is the new Reston station, which gives access to the Berwickshire coast and eastern Borders region.

Did you know less than four hours after leaving London Euston station you could be alighting in Dumfries and Galloway? This area is also accessible from Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as Carlisle. All offer a variety of options from short breaks to longer stays. Most trains allow bikes on board, so your options are limited only by your own desires.

The Borders Railway line reopened in 2015 allowing access to Galashiels & Melrose. Credit: VScotland/Kenny Lam

From Edinburgh to…


Travel into gorgeous Borders territory, taking in the scenery before you jump off at the penultimate stop for a closer look at this historic former weaving town.

What can I do/see?

  1. The Great Tapestry of Scotland – The history of Scotland laid out as 160 panels of tapestry at the five-star visitor attraction.
  2. The Tempest Brewing Co – Take a brewery tour and visit the Tap Room of this Borders brewing phenomenon.
  3. Galashiels walking festivals – Discover the countryside around Galashiels and time your visit to coincide with one of the seasonal walking festivals.
  4. MacArts – This state-of-the-art music and arts venue and community space, founded in memory of Duncan Mackinnon, a prominent Borders promoter who brought high profile acts to the Scottish Borders in the 1960s.
Follow the stitches through time to see Scotland’s history laid out in colourful panels at the Great Tapestry of Scotland in Galashiels.


From Tweedbank train station there is a 10-minute bus ride to take you into Melrose, leaving every 30 minutes. And this lovely Borders town can take you back in time to the Romans, let you see where Sir Walter Scott created his novels and silently contemplate at the place where we think the heart of Robert the Bruce is buried.

What can I do/see?

  1. Abbotsford house & gardens – The home of Sir Walter Scott and a definite must for any visitor.
  2. Melrose Abbey – Visit the abbey or use this as your launch point to walk the 68-mile Borders Abbey Way or if you’ve brought your bike, tackle the challenging 56-mile 4 Abbeys cycle route.
  3. St Cuthbert’s Way – The abbey is also the starting point of a five-day long distance walk, St Cuthbert’s Way, culminating on Holy Island.
  4. Trimontium Museum – Visit the museum to see artefacts uncovered at Trimontium, a fort and settlement the Romans created circa 80AD at their most northerly outpost, just outside modern day Melrose.
Melrose Abbey , ScottishFood&Drink Trails
Melrose Abbey, one of the great Border Abbeys can be your launch for the Border Abbeys Way and St Cuthbert’s Way.

Eyemouth (Reston station)

Head for the coast by taking the train and alighting after an hour at Reston Station, a newly created stop that opened in 2022. While Reston may be slightly inland, Borders Bus offers the on-demand Pingo Bus, which is bookable seven days in advance. Put in your arrival and your ultimate destination and Pingo Bus will transport you there – and there is even room for bikes!

What can I do/see?

  1. Eat fish & chips at Giacopazzi’s! – This famous Italian eatery also has an adjacent ice cream parlour not to be missed!
  2. Berwickshire coastal path – This well-known coastal path could take you from Eyemouth to the stunning Coldingham Bay beach where you can rent surf kit and enjoy the waves. Or keep walking to visit Coldingham Priory and St Abbs – the Pingo bus can always take you back again.
  3. Eyemouth Rib Tours – What better way to see the coast than from the sea? Hop on board for an exhilarating and informative tour of this historical coastline.
  4. Eyemouth Museum – Offers fantastic insight into the story of Eyemouth, its people and a great storm that decimated the fishing industry and the town in 1881.
  5. Smuggler’s Trail – Follow this 4km easy walking trail to learn the town’s history and its use by smugglers as an ideal location for hiding their booty!
Eyemouth offers plenty to see and do for those coming by train via Reston station.

From Glasgow Central to…


How about a literary escape from the city? Hop aboard at Glasgow’s Central Station and in under two hours you could plunge yourself into the world of Robert Burns in Dumfries or see what inspired the magical Neverland of Peter Pan’s Adventures.

What can I do/see?

  1. The Burns Trail – Follow in the footsteps of Robert Burns using this trail which includes a visit to his final home, Robert Burns House and his burial site as well as the Robert Burns Museum.
  2. The Globe Inn – This was where Burns made merry, sit in his chair, see where he etched poetry into the pub’s windows.
  3. Ellisland Farm – Take the bus to Auldgirth and experience Burns’ first home with his wife Jean Armour, where he wrote some of his most famous works such as Auld Lang Syne.
  4. Moat Brae – Its garden inspired JM Barrie to create Neverland for his mythical boy wonder, Peter Pan.
See where the great Burns lived and was inspired to write many of his famous works at Ellisland Museum & Farm near Dumfries.


Explore the most south westerly corner of Scotland with a trip down to Stranraer. You can rent an e-bike from here and head off down the peninsula following a trail of the iconic lighthouses… or explore the town and enjoy its coastal surroundings.

What can I do/see?

  1. Lighthouses of the Rhins trail – Cycle this trail using Westby’s Electric Bike Hire who do a collection service from Stranraer.
  2. North West Castle Hotel – Stay here and learn how to curl as it features its own curling rink.
  3. Stranraer Museum and Castle of St John – Learn about the town’s past and see its future prospects.
  4. Stranraer Oyster Festival – Come in September for all things oyster – Loch Ryan is a natural habitat for wild oysters.
Take the train to the Stranraer Oyster festival in September.
The Stranraer Oyster Festival takes place in early September.

From London (or Edinburgh) to…


Did you know that in under four hours you can escape London and be in rural Scotland? Yes really! Jump on the train at London Euston Station and there’s a direct service taking less than four hours to land you in Lockerbie. So start planning an active adventure from the city centre via train. This is your chance to get away from it all– just you and nature! Start packing those hiking boots, or grab your bike and hop on board. (In the other direction, Edinburgh is just an hour away too!)

What can I do/see?

  1. Walk the Annandale Way – Use this as a start point and track northward to Moffat or complete a circular walk of the walk’s two paths from Lockerbie.
  2. Eskrigg Nature Reserve – Try to spot a kingfisher or tawny owl at this community-managed nature reserve.
  3. The VW Distillery Tour – You can be met at the station and be whisked off to sample whisky and gin with perhaps some botanical foraging thrown in for good measure on this chauffeur-driven tour courtesy of The Love Bug D&G.
  4. Ae Forest 7stanes – Take your bike on the train and head out for some fantastic mountain biking, just 22km from Lockerbie.  For an experienced road cyclist, this could be linked to complete a 7stanes road trip within Dumfries and Galloway – for more info read our cycling blog.
Take your bike on the train and cycle at 7stanes Ae Forest down the road from Lockerbie.

From Carlisle to…

Gretna Green

Romance is in the air with a visit to this ‘first’ town over the Scottish border where young English couples often eloped to be wed. The 1754 Marriage Act made it illegal in England to marry outside a church or under the age of 21 without parental consent. In Scotland, young couples over 16 just required two witnesses to hear their solemn promise of marriage. Hence Gretna’s association with romance, elopement and weddings, which still continues today.

What can I do/see?

  1. Gretna Green Blacksmith’s shop – one of the top 10 visitor attractions in Scotland with hotels, shopping and plenty of beautiful countryside for romantic walks.
  2. Devil’s Porridge Museum – hop on the 79 bus towards Annan and you’ll find yourself at this 5-star visitor attraction celebrating the largest ammunition factory in the world during the First World War.
  3. Annandale Distillery – Enjoy a distillery tour and lunch at the café afterwards.
  4. Solway Tours – Enjoy the expertise of local guides and take a day trip with Solway Tours to explore the history and heritage of the area.
Devil’s Porridge Museum near Gretna Green explores the history of the world’s largest munitions factory during World War I and II.