Rosslyn Chapel, The Borders & Glenkinchie Distillery

Blog 18 Jun 2014

My name is Julia and as a member of the Timberbush Marketing Team I was really looking forward to my ‘Rosslyn Chapel, The Scottish Borders and Glenkinchie Distillery’ tour. Having lived in Scotland for over 4 years, I had never been to the borders nor to a Whisky Distillery. I recently read that visiting a Scottish Whisky Distillery is on the '100 things to do before you die' list.

It was a glorious summer’s day with the sun shining as I walked up the Royal Mile to the departure point right outside the green Ensign Ewart pub. I was greeted by my Driver Guide for the day, Graeme, who ticked off everyone’s names as we boarded our lovely hi-spec Mercedes bus.

Graeme talked us through our itinerary for the day and also showed us on the map the route which we were taking. Graeme came across as an extremely passionate guide with a great sense of humour. I noticed that he made a real effort to get to know his passengers as well as ensuring everyone was comfortable on the coach which was really nice.

We began our journey out of the city and headed towards our first stop of the day; Rosslyn Chapel. As we drove out of the city, Graeme told us some very interesting facts about the capital city that very few people actually know about. One being that Golf was actually first played in Bruntsfield Links in the Meadows (one of Edinburgh’s biggest and most popular parks). ‘Links’ is a Scottish word for land which is associated with the game of golf. Bruntsfield links is one of the earliest known locations where golf was played in Scotland, but the exact date is unclear. The Golf Tavern which is on the west side of the links claims to have been established in 1456.

We soon arrived in the village of Roslin and to one of the most extraordinary chapels I have ever seen; Rosslyn Chapel. The chapel reached worldwide fame thanks to Dan Browns bestselling novel ‘The Da Vinci Code’. The inside of the chapel is beautiful, its walls are adorned with thousands of ancient carvings, each with their own incredible story. I found out that after the release of Dan Browns novel, the chapel’s visitor numbers went from 30,000 in 2005 to 176,000 the following year which is an incredible success. They even had to build a new visitor centre to deal with the amount of visitors coming through. There is a very nice little walk through a forest to a castle ruin outside the chapel where I went for a wee wander. 

As we drove out of Rosslyn to head for the borders, we passed Roslin Institute which is where the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, was cloned.

We drove through the borders, which is comparable to the Highlands, if not even more beautiful. I think this is probably one of the misconceptions tourists make when they come to Scotland. Many new visitors have been told that the Highlands of Scotland is the must see place to see the true beauty of Scotland. Little do many people know that the borders is absolutely beautiful with equally stunning scenery to the Highlands so it is certainly a beautiful place to visit.

We drove past lots of wildlife, such as sheep and their baby lambs, Highland coo’s and even oystercatchers. There was stunning flora, such as the heather which turns a vibrant purple in August. We even passed several golf courses which are in the middle of nowhere. Graeme, our Driver Guide, explained to us that these golf courses are paid for by customers by a good will box. Customers are expected to be honest and pay for their golf rounds through this box. I don’t think this would work as well in the city :)

On our way to Melrose, we passed the River Tweed which is 97 miles long which flows primarily through the scenic borders area of Scotland.

We arrived at Melrose where we stopped for some lunch. Melrose is a very beautiful little borders town with lots of cute little cafes, pubs and shops. I went with a recommendation from our Driver Guide, and got a few delicious treats from the bakery ‘Alex Dalgetty & Sons’ including a traditional bridie. I sat and ate my treats in the town square as the sun was shining. After lunch I had a quick look around the impressive ‘Melrose Abbey’ which was founded in 660 AD and is said to be the burial place of the casket containing the heart of Robert the Bruce. You have the option to take an audio tour around the Abbey, where you will be guided through the rich and sometimes bloody history of Melrose. It’s well worth a visit! 

After lunch we commenced our journey towards Glenkinchie Distillery. En route we had a wee photo stop at Scots View which is a viewpoint overlooking the River Tweed which is believed to have been Sir Walter Scott’s (one of Scotland’s most famous writers) favourite view. Graeme explained to us the story of Sir Walter Scott’s funeral. His funeral was one of the biggest attended funerals ever held in Britain. The funeral profession was led by two of Sir Walter Scott’s horses. Legend has it that the two horses stopped abruptly during the profession at this view point in order to give Sir Walter Scott his final favourite view before he was buried. 

We continued on and also got a view of the Viaduct Railway line which is over the River Tweed. We soon arrived at Glenkinchie Whisky Distillery. We had a tour around the distillery which was very interesting. We learnt how whisky is made and stored (which I had no idea about beforehand) and after the tour, we had a wee whisky tasting. I tried the Glenkinchie whisky as well as Dalwhinnie which is known as a ladies whisky, due to its light and delicate taste. 

We then commenced our journey back to Edinburgh.

This tour is ideal for anyone looking for a relaxed day whilst also getting to see some of Scotland’s finest scenery and pretty towns. The whisky distillery is also a highlight on this trip, whether you are a lover of whisky or not. I am not the biggest lover of Whisky but I still found the distillery very interesting and educational. Graeme was an incredibly informative guide, who took a real interest to look after his passengers. I could not recommend this ‘Rosslyn Chapel, the Scottish Borders & Glenkinchie Distillery’ tour enough.