Day Trips from Edinburgh
Are you planning a visit to Edinburgh and interested in venturing further afield, but not sure how to? This article highlights some of the National Trust for Scotland properties located outside of the city that can easily be visited by train or bus. In fact, each property on this list can be visited by traveling via train or bus only, reducing the need to rely on catching connections. To plan your visit, make sure to check the online timetables that are highlighted in the post (as well as searching for any updates to the routes or timetables). The links also include information about the ticket options and prices.
Preston Mill and Phantassie Doocot
Situated in East Linton, Preston Mill was the last working watermill in the Lothians—in use until 1959! —and is one of only a few river mills left in Scotland. The building’s unusual architecture makes Preston Mill unique, and visiting offers a deep insight into the industrial past of Scotland and the working life of the milling industry. Outlander fans may recognize the property, as it was the filming location for Lallybroch Mill in the first season of the show. The water wheel was recently restored and is in full working order thanks to an incredible response to a crowdfunding campaign from generous NTSUSA donors and Outlander fans around the world.
To reach Preston Mill, take the X7 Lothian bus in the direction of Dunbar from Edinburgh for approximately one hour until you reach East Linton. Ticket options include the £10 Network DAYticket, which allows you unlimited travel on all Lothian buses and Edinburgh trams for the day. To make the most out of your visit to East Lothian, you could visit seaside town Musselburgh on the way back to Edinburgh, which you can get to directly from East Linton by taking the 106 Lothian bus.
Robert Smail’s Printing Works
The town of Innerleithen is home to Robert Smail’s Printing Works, the oldest working commercial letterpress printers in the United Kingdom and a step back in time to the Victorian age. Founded in 1886, the printing works was an important business in the local community, printing important everyday items such as newspapers, posters, and tickets. The Trust purchased Robert Smail’s Printing Works in 1986 and it is still fully functioning today, with the letterpress technology remaining unchanged. Today, the Printing Works is also an important archive of Scotland’s industrial history, where each item that has ever been printed there has been collected and preserved for visitors to look through.
To get to Innerleithen, you can travel for one and a half hours using the X62 bus, travelling in the direction of Galashiels. Alternatively, why not make a day of it and make use of the Borders Explorer train pass? The pass allows you to travel to Galashiels on the Borders Railway Line, and includes the bus travel with Borders Buses throughout the region. Whilst in Galashiels, make sure not to miss the Great Tapestry of Scotland Museum, home to a stunning needlework Tapestry that depicts Scotland’s history, heritage and culture. Though not a Trust property, this ambitious project is certainly impressive and not one to miss! With the Borders Explorer ticket, you can also use Borders Buses to visit two of the Trust’s finest gardens, Harmony and Priorwood Gardens in Melrose, by travelling with the 61 bus service. The Borders Explorer ticket costs £24.40 and includes the Borders Railway transport to and from Edinburgh, as well as Borders Buses services upon arrival in Galashiels.
Malleny Garden is a gardening haven hidden within the city, situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh in Balerno. Donated to the Trust in 1968, the Garden is home to many unique treasures, such as 400-year old clipped yew trees, 150 varieties of roses, and lavender in the summer. Visitors can relax by strolling through the walled gardens, taking in views of all the beautiful flowers and landscapes.
This property is one of the simplest to reach from the city center, and takes just 50 minutes with the 44 Lothian bus, and is therefore a perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon in the city. A day ticket costs £4.40 and is valid for all Lothian Buses and trams within the city (excluding the tram service to the airport).
Travel back in time to 1314 and visit the site of the Battle of Bannockburn, one of the most pivotal moments in Scottish history. At Bannockburn, the Scottish army was led by Robert the Bruce to fight against King Edward II in a struggle to capture Stirling Castle. The two-day battle was an intense and resounding victory for the Scots, who defeated the English army despite being outnumbered. The Battle of Bannockburn is one of Scotland’s most famous battles and, whilst not immediately leading to peace between the nations, was a catalyst for Scotland’s recognition as an independent nation and Robert the Bruce as King of Scotland in 1328.
Today, you can visit the site and the Battle of Bannockburn experience, which uses immersive interactive technology that allows visitors to discover more about medieval warfare and understand the events that culminated in the battle. Make sure not to miss the commemorative monuments honoring the soldiers who lost their lives in the Battle, as well as the iconic statue of Robert the Bruce himself. To visit Bannockburn, the 909 Citylink bus service offers a round-trip for £7, with a 1.5 hour bus journey each way, and is therefore the perfect day-out from Edinburgh.
Dunkeld and the Hermitage
Interested in experiencing a piece of the Scottish Highlands? Look no further than a trip to Dunkeld, a picturesque small town on the River Tay with a rich past. Dunkeld was the site of a struggle between the Jacobites and government soldiers in 1689 following the Battle of Killiecrankie, resulting in destruction. Subsequently, the town was rebuilt in the 18th century, and today many of the houses found in Dunkeld have been restored by the Trust to preserve its historic appearance.
Just a thirty-minute walk away from Dunkeld is the Hermitage, a beautiful forest full of towering Douglas fir trees and tumbling waterfalls. It is easy to get lost walking through the winding paths of the Hermitage. Hidden in the trees you can find the Ossain’s Hall, a circular structure built in the 1700s that was once home to a collection of paintings and masterpieces that could be viewed with the trickling of the waterfall in earshot. Ossain’s Hall has been in the care of the Trust since 1951, and it is a perfect place within the forest to enjoy the waterfall and the atmosphere of the woodlands.
Travelling to Dunkeld couldn’t be easier with an off-peak ScotRail train ticket, costing £19 day return ticket from Edinburgh, with the direct train route lasting two hours each way in the direction of Inverness. A visit to Dunkeld is perfect for the whole family too – with ScotRail, children can travel at off-peak times for just £1 as part of the “Kids for a Quid” scheme, meaning Dunkeld is a perfect family day-out in nature.