With a recent report revealing that over a third (35%) of people visit the Scottish Borders for the landscape and scenery, VisitScotland is hoping the new Borders Railway, due to open six months, will be a significant tourism magnet for international and UK visitors. Scotland’s newest scenic railway, opening on 6 September to the public, marks the beginning of a new route into one of Europe’s most unspoilt regions.
Running between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, the journey will take less than an hour and open up opportunities for visitors to explore Midlothian’s mining past and the Scottish Borders – an area which has an international reputation for exceptional cycling and for its beautiful countryside, famous for inspiring Sir Walter Scott.
In 2013 approximately 4.3 million people visited the Scottish Borders, Edinburgh and the Lothians, spending £1.3 billion (80% was in Edinburgh). It is hoped that the Borders Railway will inspire the 3.4 million people who currently visit Scotland’s capital city every year, to discover, explore and spend time in Midlothian and the Borders
VisitScotland, alongside local authorities and partners, is developing an ambitious, targeted and coordinated marketing programme that brings to life the Borders Railway. With details due to be released in the next few months, this activity will target potential leisure and business visitors from domestic and international markets, encouraging them to visit Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders as part of their Scotland experience.
The campaign (details due to be announced in the next few months), will offer a vital platform for the three regions to showcase new and existing tourism product along the line:
Visitors can follow in the footsteps of Sir Walter Scott, starting in Edinburgh with The Scott Monument and The Writers’ Museum, just off the Royal Mile, before taking the Borders Railway over 95,000 railway sleepers, through the landscapes that inspired his writing. At the end of the journey, there’s Abbotsford, near Tweedbank, where a new award winning visitor centre tells Scott’s remarkable story, from his birth in Edinburgh in 1771 to the cultural legacy he left to Scotland and the world.
Platform to the Past
The most visited attraction in Midlothian is just a short cycle from Newtongrange station at the mysterious, richly decorated late-Gothic Rosslyn Chapel, made famous when it appeared in The Di Vinci Code novel by Dan Brown and blockbuster movie starring Tom Hanks.
The towns of the Scottish Borders are home to one of the oldest equestrian festivals in the world – the Return to the Ridings. Celebrations of history, music, parades and concerts take place in the eleven towns take part, so those visiting between May and August will see the spectacle of hundreds of horses ‘protecting the boundaries of their town’ led by a leading man.
The Scottish Borders has over 1500 miles of walking and cycling paths. Cyclists can choose between challenging long distance routes such as the 250 mile Borders Loop, or short country rides
The British Mountain Bike Marathon Championships are to be staged over a challenging 75 km single lap course in the Scottish Borders, as part of the ever popular Selkirk Mountain Bike Marathon open cycling event, on Saturday 2 May 2015.
The Scottish Borders are famed for the fabulously fruity Selkirk Bannock, said to have been a favourite of Queen Victoria when she visited the region during her reign. Although bannocks can be found in several areas of Scotland and are usually a type of flat bread, the Selkirk variety is more akin to a fruit cake. The town of Selkirk is the best place to try slice, The Selkirk Deli is short bus ride from Tweedbank and serves its Bannock with tea in china cups, just like the Queen would have enjoyed.
Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities said, "The Borders Railway boasts outstanding scenery along its route rivalling the most stunning railway journeys anywhere in Europe.
“Combined with the steam train experience, the new Great Scenic Railways of Scotland initiative, the Great Tapestry of Scotland display planned for Tweedbank and existing attractions such as the National Mining Museum and Abbotsford, we can look forward to the Borders Railway bringing an entirely new and exceptional offering to Scotland’s tourism industry.
“This railway will be a tourism draw in itself, but it will also help Scottish Borders and Midlothian share in the success Edinburgh enjoys as a visitor destination.”