Located to the south of Edinburgh, Midlothian is a beautifully rural area, complete with rolling green hills & huge expanses of thriving woodland. Its boundaries are marked by the Pentland Hills chain to the west and the Moorfoot Hills to the south.
A thriving mining area in times gone past, you’ll find former mining communities dotted throughout Midlothian. One of these charming villages is Newtongrange, whose Lady Victoria Colliery is open to the public as the National Mining Museum Scotland, complete with a 1,625-foot shaft and a winding tower powered by Scotland’s largest steam engine. A great place for kids, the visitor centre brings the mine and the local community to life with 'magic helmets' self-guided tours, which enable you to go on shift and experience a virtual-reality tour of life below ground.
The Midlothian Snowsports Centre at Hillend is a great place for the whole family to have some fun. Spend a few exhilarating hours whizzing down the dry ski slope or have a go on the tubing chutes. The slopes are completely artificial so can be enjoyed at any time of year.
Visit the mysterious, late-Gothic Rosslyn Chapel, which featured prominently in the blockbuster film and book, The Da Vinci Code. See the famous Apprentice Pillar in the richly-decorated chapel before popping into the state-of-the-art visitor centre where you can learn more about the building’s history and enjoy a delicious slice of home baking and a drink. Afterwards, take a wander through the beautiful Rosslyn Glen and enjoy the sounds of birds in the trees and the babbling river as you meander along the glen’s quiet woodland path.
For wildlife of a different kind, head south along the A7 from Edinburgh and visit the Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World in Lasswade. Stroll through an exotic rainforest as you watch hundreds of the world's most spectacular butterflies fluttering around you in the world’s longest-running butterfly house, see live scorpions, ants and other remarkable insects up close, and get the chance to handle tarantulas, snakes and millipedes.
Explore over 4 miles of beautiful woodland walks in the 105 hectares of woodland and Victorian parkland at Vogrie Country Park near Gorebridge. Snap some pictures of the park’s attractive Victorian mansion, built in 1876, or enjoy a round on the nine-hole golf course. Kids will love the adventure playground, water features and miniature railway and you can all catch your breath with a bite to eat at the Cedar Tree Cafe.
Dalkeith Country Park is the perfect place for a fun family day out. Take a walk through the park’s semi-natural woodland, and make sure to look out for Robert Adam’s Montagu Bridge, which straddles the River North Esk in a graceful arch, as well as deer, foxes and myriads of smaller birds, animals and insects. Work is currently under way to develop the Stableyard into a family friendly retail, catering and leisure facility and the children’s adventure playground (re-opening in September 2015) will keep even your most high-energy wee ones busy.
If you visit on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, be sure to stop off at Stewart Brewing in Loanhead, where you can book a tour of this lovely independent brewery from 7.00 pm until 9.30 pm, Thursday and Friday, or drop in on Saturday from 12 – 4 pm. See how their craft beers are produced, discover the science of brewing and taste a sample of their delicious tipples.
Other great food and drink options in Midlothian include Cafe Panola at the Pentland Plants Garden Centre in Loanhead, where you can enjoy a great selection of meals and a mouth-watering slice of home baking, and The Paper Mill in Lasswade, which serves tempting dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, alongside a vibrant selection of hand-picked beers from Scotland and beyond.