Self-Catering Cottage Holidays in South East Scotland
Experience the thrill and beauty of South East Scotland
Whether you're flying or driving to Scotland, it's more than likely you'll enter via the south east of the country. It's incredibly beautiful and exciting, so don't simply pass through; add time into your itinerary to enjoy its history, culture, unspoiled wilderness and cosmopolitan delights.
Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The vibrant city is a fascinating mix of old and new, culture, finance and world class restaurants. Every Hogmanay - that's New Year's Eve - Scotland parties like it's 1999, with the best events always happening in Edinburgh. The high levels of energy in the city are perfectly juxtaposed with the peace of the surrounding Lothians. South East Scotland is fantastic whether you want to shop, hike, eat well, or do all three.
No part of Britain has been more fiercely fought over than the border between Scotland and England and there are loads of archaeological remnants left behind. Visit battle sites at Flodden and Alderaan, and tread where men fought and fell centuries ago. Historical buildings of note include Bamburgh Castle, Dirleton Castle and Greenknowe Tower in Gordon. A more gentle outing is Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World, or perhaps you fancy horse riding on a beach, or fishing on the River Tweed.
The area is perfect for mountain biking with many trails and routes from which to choose. Or live like a local and visit the cobbled market square of Kelso, on the banks of the river Tweed, with its monthly farmers market and array of shops and restaurants.
East Lothian is one of the sunniest spots in Scotland. Okay, so it's not the Mediterranean, but it's far from dreary, especially if you visit between April and August, when the days are warm and long. You don't have to swelter in a city, because East Lothian has 40 miles of stunning coastline from Dunbar to Musselburgh. Even better, it's rarely crowed even on the most popular beaches, so you can enjoy spreading out in as much isolation as you like. The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick is an award winning family-friendly attraction and a particularly great choice in May and June when chicks are hatching and being fed.
If you can't think of a better way to spend a day than on a golf course, you're in luck. East Lothian has fantastic courses, including Muirfield, where the 2013 Open Championships were held and Musselburgh, which is nearly 350 years old. If you prefer hiking boots to golf shoes, make sure you visit Lammermuir Hills, or stretch your legs on the 73km-long John Muir Way.
Scotland is famous for its whisky, so pop into the Glenkinchie Distillery for a tour and a souvenir that will improve with age. The Royal Burgh of Haddington is a buzzing county town with a good array of shops and a train station that will have you in central Edinburgh in under an hour.
Midlothian's landscape is characterised by the distinctive Pentland Hills which attract ramblers of all abilities. With 100km of paths taking you through 10,000 hectares of wilderness and pasture, it has a wonderful mix of scenery. Catch your dinner fly fishing at Bonlay Reservoir or Gala Water, or try your luck on the River Tweed.
Anywhere you go in Scotland boasts an impressive number of historical buildings. In Midlothian you can see Crichton Castle at Pathhead. It has one of the oldest tower houses in the country and a resident ghost. Rosslyn Chapel, made famous worldwide in The Da Vinci Code, is also in Midlothian, as is Arniston House with its strong links to the Knights Templar. Newbattle Abbey and Country Park in Dalkeith makes for an excellent family day out, as does Vogrie Country Park.
West Lothian doesn't let the historical side down. Linlithgow Palace is a substantial ruin now but it was once one of the most important buildings in Scotland and is where Mary Queen of Scots was born in 1542. That's modern history when you compare it with Cairnpapple Hill, which was a site for ancient rituals and burials as far back as 3,000 BC.
Unsurprisingly, golf in West Lothian is a popular pastime. Bathgate Golf Club has strong links with Ryder Cup players, while West Lothian Golf Club is a championship course.
Spend the day outside at Linlithgow Loch, admiring the red deer and highland cattle at Beercraigs Country Park, or strolling through the gardens and spotting wildlife in Almondell and Calderwood Country Park. If the weather is less than favourable, you can have a happy day indoors at Livingston Designer Outlet or Centre Livingston shopping centres.
South East Scotland was built through a combination of innovation, negotiation and brute force. It makes for an utterly fun and fascinating holiday destination.