Iron Donkey Bicycle Touring | Bike Tours in Ireland England Wales Scotland Italy Spain
Iron Donkey Bicycle Touring : bike tours, cycle vacations and biking holidays in Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, Italy and Spain.
 

Edinburgh, Fife and The Borders, Scotland Bicycle Touring

THE REGION IN DETAIL

You may find it helpful to view and print off a copy of the regional map and cross reference with the description below. The letters in brackets correspond to the biking routes.

Inspiring Edinburgh is one of the world’s most sophisticated cities. Sweeping down from the heights of the Castle and Arthur’s Seat the city occupies a magnificent location above the southern shores of the Firth of Forth. The compact centre is divided into the medieval Old Town and the elegance and symmetry of the Georgian New Town. The city houses a wealth of wonderful museums and galleries. Some tell the story of Scotland’s and Edinburgh’s fascinating past, while others display wonderful contemporary exhibitions.  In addition the city hosts a year-round program of festivals and events ranging from the world-renowned Edinburgh Festival to the world’s biggest Hogmany party at the New Year (A, J, K, Q, R).Scotland Bicycle Tours & Vacations

Edinburgh is located at the centre of The Lothians – consisting of three distinct entities – East Lothian, Midlothian and West Lothian.

In the ruined royal palace at Linlithgow, West Lothian boasts one of Scotland's more magnificent ruins. There is some interesting industrial heritage, too, including the prettiest stretch of the recently upgraded Union Canal, and the restored railway at Boness. The village of South Queensferry  lies under the considerable shadow of the Forth rail and road bridges. A mile or two beyond South Queensferry is the impressive stately home Hopetoun House  (Q, K).

Midlothian is a predominantly rural area. Its boundaries are marked out by the Pentland chain to the west, and the Moorfoots to the south. Midlothian's principal attraction is the mysterious, richly decorated late-Gothic Rosslyn Chapel, which featured prominently in 'The Da Vinci Code' (J).

Officially the sunniest area of Scotland, East Lothian‘s most dramatic scenery is found in the beautiful beaches and spectacular cliffs of the coastline between Musselburgh and Dunbar.  North Berwick's award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre, the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune, horse racing at Musselburgh Race Course, Glenkinchie Distillery at the foot of the Lammermuir Hills and Tantallon Castle are some of the area’s attractions. There are picturesque towns and villages including the traditional seaside towns of Dunbar and North Berwick and the quaint county town of Haddington (A).

The Scottish Borders occupy the region to the south and west of Dunbar, directly adjacent to the Scottish / English border. Here the castles, abbeys, stately homes and museums illustrate the exciting, colourful and often bloody history of the area. It's that history which is commemorated in the Common Ridings when locals dress up in period costume and ride out to check the burgh boundaries (B,C, D, E, F, G, H).

The region makes full use of its beautiful hills and moorland, valleys and rivers to promote the enjoyment of the great outdoors. The area is a paradise for hill walkers and cyclists of all types while the River Tweed and its many tributaries offer some of theScotland Bicycle Tours & Vacations best fishing in Scotland. The Borders is a region famed for its textiles, producing high quality tweeds, tartans and knitwear.

The eastern Scottish Borders is a mixed landscape of low-lying hills, extensive moors and a dramatic coastline that contrast with the rich farmland and the wooded river banks of the ever-present Tweed. The low Lammermuir Hills with their extensive grouse moors and wooded valleys form a natural border with the Lothians to the north. The area is excellent walking terrain and the Southern Upland Way cuts along the slopes en route to Cockburnspath on the coast (B).

The Borders coastline is short but dramatic. Cliff-top paths offer spectacular views of the towering red cliffs and rocky outcrops of the rugged Berwickshire coast. The major attraction is the St. Abb's Head National Nature Reserve where sheer 300 foot sea cliffs provide nesting sites for thousands of sea birds. The eastern Borders also boast a variety of attractive sites of historic interest such as the impressive Manderston House and the Jim Clark Room at Duns, and Paxton House, a few miles south of Eyemouth (B).

The central Scottish Borders are dominated by the Tweed Valley, with its appealing blend of scenic rolling countryside, stately homes, ruined abbeys and picturesque towns and villages.

The Tweed Valley's most famous sights are the ruined 12th century abbeys at Kelso, Jedburgh, Dryburgh and Melrose. The countryside is also strewn with castles and keeps, relics of the turbulent 16th and 17th centuries when it was fought over by the English and the Scots, and plagued by endless clan warfare and Reivers' raids (B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I).

The valley widens to the east to form the Merse basin, an area of rich arable land that hides a series of grand stately homes, most notably Manderston House, Paxton House and Mellerstain House (C). Scotland Bicycle Tours & Vacations
Kelso stands where the River Teviot joins the Tweed – the handsome Borders town has a broad market square flanked by elegant Georgian buildings. Kelso Abbey, Floors Castle and Smailholm Tower are the attractions in and around the town. Kelso Race Course holds regular horse races (B, C, D, E).

Beautiful Melrose is a big draw for day trippers – with good reason. The classic market square, the many quaint shops and galleries, and the striking ruins of Melrose Abbey (where Robert the Bruce’s embalmed heart is buried) are the main attractions (D, G).

Two miles east of bustling Galashiels lies Abbotsford, home of the great novelist Sir Walter Scott, author of Rob Roy and Ivanhoe.  Scott is buried in the ruins of Dryburgh Abbey, close to his favourite viewpoint of the Eildon Hills (known as Scott‘s View).  A 22 foot high sandstone statue of Scottish hero William Wallace stands nearby (D, E, F). 
Selkirk, where Sir Walter Scott was sheriff for thirty years was a prosperous mill town in the 19th century. Today it is a more sedate and peaceful town, and a great place to while away a few hours (E, F, H).

Besides its great abbey, Jedburgh has Queen of Scots’ House, so called because of an extended stay there by Mary in 1566. The house is now a museum that tells the story of her life (F).

Upriver, Innerleithen is a small village which houses Robert Smail's Printing Works, a fascinating museum where you can try your hand at traditional typesetting,  and the sulphurous spa water of St Ronan's Wells, once frequented by Sir Walter Scott. A few miles further on wonderful Traquair House, the oldest continuously inhabited house in Scotland, sits amongst the trees. It's worth making time to explore the surrounding gardens and sampling the output from the Traquair House Brewery, first started here over 400 years ago (G, H, I, J).

Crafts thrive within the Scottish Borders and there are woodworkers, glass-blowers, workers in stone, stained glass artists, furniture makers, metal workers, jewellers, and an impressive variety of potters throughout the region.  Many are happy to welcome the visitor into their workshop and to demonstrate their skills as well as selling their products.

Ancestral home of Scottish monarchs, world-famous for its golf and with some of Scotland's best scenic attractions, The Kingdom of Fife to the north of the Firth of Forth is a proud region with its own distinct identity. Despite its small size - barely fifty miles at its widest point - Fife encompasses several distinct sub-regions .
Linked as it is to Edinburgh and the Lothians by the two Forth Bridges and as home to the international ferry port of Rosyth, Dunfermline and West Fife are most visitors' first introduction to the 'Kingdom' .
Scotland’s capital until 1603, Dunfermline is built on a hill, dominated by the abbey and ruined palace at the top. Dunfermline's centre holds an appeal of its own, with its narrow, cobbled streets, and gargoyle-adorned buildings (K, P, L).

West of the bridges, Culross (pronounced 'coorus') is one of Scotland's most picturesque settlements. The town's development began in the 5th century and Culross today is in excellent condition, thanks to the work of the National Trust for Scotland, which has been renovating its whitewashed, crow-stepped gabled and red-tiled buildings (Q, K).
Scotland Bicycle Tours & Vacations
In Central Fife, the highlights are the historic village of Falkland with its impressive ruined palace and the country town of Cupar, a charming market town set in rolling countryside. Falkland's narrow streets are lined with fine and well-preserved 17th- and 18th-century buildings. The village grew up around the impressive Falkland Palace, begun in 1500 and a favoured royal residence. Its gardens are charming and house the oldest tennis court in Britain - built in 1539 for James V and still used. Falkland is also a good base for walks, with several leading from the village (L, O).

Loch Leven, the largest loch of the Scottish Lowlands, is another highlight of this area. Declared a nature reserve in 1964, the Loch today is of international importance, attracting around 15,000 wild geese every autumn. Loch Leven Castle, sitting on an islet in the loch, gained infamy when it acted as a prison to Mary Queen of Scots in 1567. Her dramatic escape by boat is one of Scotland's most romantic tales (N, O).

In the northeast corner of Fife, the landscape varies from the gentle hills in the rural hinterland to the windswept cliffs, rocky bays and sandy beaches on which scenes from the film 'Chariots of Fire' were shot. Fishing still has a role here but ultimately it is to St Andrews, Scotland's oldest university town and the home of the world-famous Royal and Ancient golf club, that most visitors are drawn. The town itself and the hills and hamlets of the surrounding area retain an appealing and old-fashioned feel (L, M, N).

South of St Andrews, the tiny stone harbours of the fishing villages of the East Neuk - Anstruther, Crail, St Monans and Pittenweem - are “musat sees” on a trip to this part of Fife.
The Fife coastline is a very special environment with its distinctive rock formations, delicate flora and a varied wildlife. Long sections of the Fife Coastal Path up to Crail can now be enjoyed by recreational and serious walkers. The offshore islands of Inchcolm and Inchkeith are home to thousands of seabirds, with vast numbers of puffins found on the Isle of May (M).

The Kingdom of Fife is also known throughout the world as the home of golf and boasts more than forty courses, from the famed fairways of St Andrews and several traditional seaside links to beautifully landscaped parkland and heathland courses suitable for golfers of all levels.

Gallery

  • Scotland Bicycle Tours & Vacations
  • Scotland Bicycle Tours & Vacations
  • Scotland Bicycle Tours & Vacations
  • Scotland Bicycle Tours & Vacations
  • Scotland Bicycle Tours & Vacations
  • Scotland Bicycle Tours & Vacations
  • Edinburgh castle
  • Edinburgh
  • Scotland Bicycle Tours & Vacations
  • Scotland Bicycle Tours & Vacations
 

« Back to previous page