How to get here
For centuries, the roads and paths across Midlothian and the Borders were essential lifelines. Today, exploring these parts means travelling the two most accessible off the beaten path destinations in Scotland.
Whether you choose to fly, drive, travel by public transport or even by bike, your adventure starts in just a few miles – only minutes by car – south of the country’s capital, Edinburgh, and right at the border with England. With Northumberland and Cumbria on our doorstep, Newcastle and Carlisle are within easy reach, too, with Midlothian and the Borders enjoying excellent transport connections from the north and south. There are a variety of options available to reach wherever you want to explore.
From the North
Once over the Queensferry Crossing, follow signs for the Edinburgh City Bypass (A720). This will take you directly to Midlothian, with the option of then following the A7 or the A68 south to travel through Midlothian to reach the Scottish Borders or the A1 to travel south to the Borders by crossing through East Lothian along Scotland’s coast.
From the West
Follow the M8 until you reach the exit to join the Edinburgh City Bypass (A720 South), then follow along to reach Midlothian or choose the A7 or A68 to travel further south into the Scottish Borders.
From the South
Follow the A1 from Carlisle north. This will take you directly into the Scottish Borders. Follow along further until you reach the turn off signposted ‘ Edinburgh City Bypass (A720 to Perth, Glasgow, Stirling) which will take you into Midlothian.
From Edinburgh Waverley:
The Borders Railway offers regular services to Midlothian and the Scottish Borders, stopping at Eskbank, Newtongrange and Gorebridge in Midlothian, and Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders.
From the South:
Hop on Lothian Bus services number 3, 49 or 33 from Princes Street in the city centre to reach Midlothian in less then 40 minutes or, alternatively, catch Borders Buses from the Scottish capital to head further into the Scottish Borders. Services number X62 to Galashiels via Peebles, X95 to Carlisle via Stow and Galashiels, as well as bus lines 51 and 52 to Jedburgh offer regular services and stop in Midlothian en route.
Catch Borders Buses service number 253 to Edinburgh to head north via the Scottish Borders coastline, or hop on services 60 or 67 to head to the heart of the Borders and Galashiels Transport Interchange, where you can change onto further services heading into Midlothian.
Midlothian and the Scottish Borders are exceptionally bike friendly, with miles of paths, a variety of cycling events and annual adrenaline pumping races. If you are looking to travel by bus and take your bike with you, Borders Buses operate Scotland’s first fully bike friendly services.
Direct Route (8 miles, 13 km)
Using bus lanes, shared-use pavements and on-road cycle lanes, this route also follows the route of the Lothian Buses service number 3. Leave the city centre on your bicycle via North Bridge, South Bridge, Nicholson Street, Clerk Street, Newington Road, Minto Street and Liberton Road (A701). Shortly after you pass a large Tesco supermarket, turn left onto Gilmerton Road (A772). Follow this road until the bridge over the A720 City Bypass (dual carriageway); at this point you are 6 miles (10km) from Edinburgh city centre. You are now in Midlothian, with the town of Dalkeith some 2 miles (3km) ahead.
Longer Picturesque Route (13 miles, 21km)
Using National Cycle Route 1 on bus lanes, traffic-free paths and quieter roads. With your bicycle, Follow Route 1 from Princes Street at its junction with The Mound (at the Scottish National Gallery) south through the Old Town and the university, turning east on to traffic-free paths and quiet roads through the outskirts of the city. At Musselburgh, follow the River Esk south (upstream) to Whitecraig village, then taking the signposted traffic-free route at the east end of the village. In 2 miles (3km), you enter Dalkeith and are now in Midlothian.
From the East
Follow National Cycle Route 78 (Berwick-upon-Tweed to Edinburgh) to take you along the coast of the Scottish Borders. Shortly after Musselburgh, and just before Queen Margaret University and Musselburgh rail station, turn left on to National Cycle Route 1 and follow it to Whitecraig. Then follow ‘Longer but picturesque route’ above.
From the South
Follow National Cycle Route 1 (Berwick-Upon-Tweed to Edinburgh) west from Berwick-Upon-Tweed and then north from Innerleithen. This route runs directly through the heart of the Borders and to Midlothian, using quiet roads and providing very fine views to the north. Please be aware that this route is through hilly moorland and, in poor weather, it can be exposed, with no facilities along the 25-mile stretch between Innerleithen and Dalkeith.
You can also follow National Cycle Route 68, the Pennine Cycle Way, from further south to connect to Route 1 at Norham, 8 miles west of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
From the West
Follow National Cycle Route 75 (Glasgow to Edinburgh) to Edinburgh and join National Cycle Route 1 at the Meadows. Alternatively, follow route 76 (Stirling or the Forth Road Bridge to Edinburgh) towards Edinburgh. At Cramond Brig, on the west edge of the city, join National Cycle Route 1 and follow it into the city centre. Then follow route Direct Route or Longer Picturesque Route above to Midlothian or continue along Route 1 to the Borders.
Midlothian and the Scottish Borders are easily reached from Edinburgh International Airport to the north, from Newcastle International Airport to the southeast and Carlisle Lake District Airport to the southwest. You can connect to local public transport options or hire a car at each of the three airports for a smooth onwards journey.
Edinburgh’s principal port for cruise ships is Port Leith, in the northeast of the city, with some vessels stopping at Newhaven. This makes getting to the city centre to connect to local public transport easy and quick. Further cruise ship ports are located right off the Scottish Borders’ coast at Eyemouth, at Berwick-upon-Tweed just across the Anglo-Scottish Border and at Newcastle.