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Edinburgh & Lothians includes Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city, and the surrounding local authority areas of West Lothian, Midlothian and East Lothian. For accommodation in the area see the links in the menu on the right. See the map below for an outline of the area and links to surrounding areas.
Our central Edinburgh features include one on Edinburgh itself, giving an overview of the central part of the city and its history. The Edinburgh Castle page looks at the background to the city's most famous and outstanding landmark, while the Lower Castle and Upper Castle pages look at the two main areas of the castle. Also within the castle is the National War Museum.
In the upper reaches of the Royal Mile we cover The Scotch Whisky Experience, Gladstone's Land, St Giles' Cathedral and Canongate Kirk. Further down the Royal Mile we cover the Scottish Parliament Building, and, a little further afield, Our Dynamic Earth. Not far from the last of these is Holyrood Park and St Anthony's Chapel. We also have features on the National Museum of Scotland, the Museum of Fire, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Greyfriars Kirk, St John's Church on Princes Street, the nearby Princes Street Gardens and St Cuthbert's Church. There is also an Edinburgh Pub Guide.
At opposite ends of the New Town, there are Feature Pages on Calton Hill and St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral. The Georgian House gives a sense of the interior of a New Town house when first built. The Royal Botanic Garden, a little to the north of the centre of the city, is also the subject of a feature. And there is a feature on the Edinburgh of Ian Rankin and John Rebus. On the western edge of the city is Edinburgh Zoo. The once separate settlements of Stockbridge and Dean Village are also covered.
Each summer Edinburgh is home to the world's largest and most varied arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival. A number of Feature pages cover both the Festival itself and some if its constituent parts. These include pages on the International Book Festival, the Fringe, the Mela the Edinburgh Foodies Festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The western Edinburgh features includes South Queensferry with its views of the Forth Road Bridge and Forth Rail Bridge. Nearby in the pretty village of Dalmeny is Scotland's best preserved Norman parish church, Dalmeny Church. To the south are Kirkliston and the village of Ratho, now best known for its connections with the reopened Union Canal, linking Edinburgh to Falkirk. Two miles west of the village is the spectacular Lin's Mill Aqueduct over the River Almond. Nearby are the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, one of the largest indoor climbing arenas in the world, and the Huly Hill Cairn, incorporating a stone circle.
A mile south of Ratho is St Mary's Dalmahoy, a beautiful little church built on the edge of the Dalmahoy Estate. Not far away are the village of Balerno and the tranquil oasis of Malleny Garden. Also included in the western Edinburgh features are the pretty harbour village of Cramond, which has been an active port for two thousand years, Cramond Island, Cramond Roman Fort and Cramond Kirk.
The southern Edinburgh features include the remarkable hamlet of Swanston, the nearby Caiy Stane, and Craigmillar Castle, the best preserved medieval castle in Scotland. Whether this is, as some suggest, linked by a tunnel to the mysterious Gilmerton Cove is debatable. Not far beyond Edinburgh's bypass you find Rosslyn Chapel in the village of Roslin. As well as being a truly remarkable piece of architecture, the Chapel is famous for the many legends that surround it, including suggestions that it is the hiding place of the Holy Grail, or the Ark of the Covenant, or part of the True Cross. Nearby is Rosslyn Castle.
South of here is Penicuik. On the flank of the Pentlands overlooking Penicuik is the Castlelaw Hill Fort & Earth House. Another important piece of architecture in the area is Mavisbank near the old mining town of Loanhead. Further to the east are Lasswade and Bonnyrigg, and the Scottish Mining Museum, with, beyond it the village of Temple and Arniston House. The most important of the towns to the south east of Edinburgh is Dalkeith. Further south along the A68 lies Pathhead, with nearby Crichton Castle and Crichton Collegiate Church, while to the west is the tiny village of Temple, named after its links with the Knights Templar. Close to Temple is the fine Palladian mansion and home of the Dundas family, Arniston House.
To the north of Edinburgh lies its ancient port of Leith, now effectively a part of the city. The subject of large scale regeneration over the years, Leith is now firmly on the tourist trail as home to the Royal Yacht Britannia, moored alongside the shopping and leisure centre at Ocean Terminal. It is also home to South Leith Parish Church, built around a core dating back to 1483. To its west, Leith now almost blends into the once separate fishing village of Newhaven.
The eastern Edinburgh features cover some of the less well known attractions on this side of the city. These include the traditional seaside attractions Portobello, and Musselburgh and its racecourse, a stately home in the form of Newhailes, and Inveresk Lodge Garden. Nearby is Prestongrange Museum, while beyond Prestonpans is the little known gem of Seton Collegiate Church close to the twin ports of Cockenzie & Port Seton and the old mining town of Tranent.
There are many fine hotels in and around Edinburgh, and you can read our hotel and dining reviews of The George Hotel, The Carlton, Prestonfield, Hotel du Vin, The Bonham, Norton House Hotel, Dalhousie Castle and Apex Waterloo Place.
West Lothian lies to the west of Edinburgh and has been at the heart of Scotland through much of recorded history. Linlithgow is no longer a large town by modern standards, but it remains very much the attractive focal point of the area. It grew to prominence because of its position, about mid way between Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle. Coupled with its proximity to harbour facilities on the River Forth at Blackness, Linlithgow grew in importance through the middle ages. From 1425 Linlithgow Palace had been built here by James I and his successors in a magnificent lochside location with views to the north. The palace was left in the ruins you see today by Government troops pursuing Bonnie Prince Charlie in January 1746. Close by is St Michael's Parish Church, Linlithgow.
West of Linlithgow you find the Avon Aqueduct on the Union Canal. Not far away is the fascinating Muiravonside Graveyard and the sad ruins of Almond Castle. South of Linlithgow the landscape is surprisingly rural and comes complete with surprises like the neolithic henge and age burial mound on Cairnpapple Hill. Close by is the historic village of Torphichen, complete with Torphichen Preceptory, set up by the Knights of St John of Jerusalem in the 1100s as their headquarters in Scotland. Also found in the Bathgate Hills is Beecraigs Country Park.
South-east again, is the long established industrial centre of Bathgate, with its Bennie Museum and Old Parish Church. On the last Saturday in May each year, Bathgate's Meadow Park plays host to the West Lothian Highland Games. West of Bathgate is Armadale, while to the south west lie the ex-mining settlements of Whitburn and Fauldhouse.
West Lothian's newest and largest town is Livingston. Now the seventh largest settlement in Scotland and far larger in terms of population than either Perth or Inverness, Livingston's growth is closely tied to its proximity to Edinburgh and it is home to excellent shopping and leisure facilities and the excellent Almond Valley Heritage Centre. Less positively, Livingston is also home to the derelict Bangour Village Hospital and to Howden House.
South west of Livingston is West Calder, while to its east is the pretty village of Mid Calder, complete with the Kirk of Calder, its near neighbour East Calder, and the nearby village of Kirknewton. Further north is the elongated settlement of Broxburn and Uphall, while to its north is Winchburgh. Standing at the west end of Uphall is the Macdonald Houstoun House Hotel.
East of Edinburgh the A1 passes through East Lothian en route to Dunbar and all points south. Dunbar is well worth the slight diversion needed to reach it. The town is built around its harbour, which lies in the shadow of ruinous Dunbar Castle.
Dunbar is internationally famous as the birthplace of John Muir, who founded National Parks in the USA. John Muir's Birthplace in Dunbar High Street is an excellent (and free) small museum devoted to him. Two miles south of Dunbar, on the inland side of the A1, is the Doon Hill Dark Age Settlement. Not far away from it is the village of Spott, complete with the attractive Spott Parish Church.
Getting to North Berwick, twelve miles north west of Dunbar requires a more significant diversion from the A1 near the pretty village of East Linton, but again a worthwhile one. En route you will pass Tyninghame, St Mary's Church in Whitekirk, and the imposing clifftop Tantallon Castle. Much less well known than Tantallon is the nearby beach and harbour at Seacliff.
A little inland is East Fortune Airfield. Here you find Scotland's National Museum of Flight. Each July this hosts the East Fortune Airshow. Close by is Athelstaneford, birthplace of the Saltire, Scotland's flag, celebrated by the Flag Heritage Centre in the grounds of Athelstaneford Parish Kirk. On minor roads near East Linton, are Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot and Hailes Castle. Towering over this part of East Lothian is Traprain Law. A little to the south east of Traprain Law is Whittingehame Church.
North Berwick itself combines an attractive beach and harbour with an interesting town, all overlooked by the towering North Berwick Law, a 187m or 613ft lump of volcanic rock visible for many miles. Offshore is what looks like its sea-bound twin, Bass Rock, home to an important seabird sanctuary that can be viewed from the excellent Scottish Seabird Centre close to North Berwick's harbour. Also nearby are the remains of St Andrew's Old Kirk, much of which was swept into the sea in 1656. In the centre of the town is the slightly more recent but still ruinous Parish Kirk. Among the active churches in North Berwick is the internally beautiful St Baldred's.
West from North Berwick is the attractive village of Dirleton in which you find the remains of Dirleton Castle set in its own large gardens and overlooking a large village green. At the north end of the village green is the attractive Dirleton Parish Church.
West of Dirleton is Gullane, home of Gullane Golf Club and of the rather reclusive Muirfield, whose championship course is said to be one of the best golf courses in the world. Overlooking the 10th tee at Muirfield is the superb Greywalls Hotel. At the western end of Gullane are the ruins of St Andrew's Kirk. Beyond Gullane is Aberlady and on the coast between the two is Aberlady Bay Nature Reserve. Heading south you find the Myreton Motor Museum, one of the oldest in the country, and Chesters Hill Fort.
Inland and close to the A1 is Haddington, the county town of East Lothian. This is a remarkably attractive town built around twin market areas and boasting Scotland's largest parish church, St Mary's. On the eastern edge of Haddington is the ruin of St Martin's Kirk, while a mile to its south is the magnificent Lennoxlove House.
South west of Haddington and close to the villages of Pencaitland and Ormiston, is Glenkinchie Distillery, Edinburgh's "local" distillery. Further inland there are a number of attractive small village along the edge of the Lammermuir Hills. These include Gifford, complete with Yester Parish Church, plus Garvald and Humbie Kirk. On the coast is Dunglass Collegiate Church.
Driving Tours: Much of the area is included in our Edinburgh & Dunbar Driving Tour.