The Best Things to Do in and Around Dalkeith, Scotland

Dalkeith Country Park is an excellent spot to wander with the entire family
Dalkeith Country Park is an excellent spot to wander with the entire family | © Tom Richardson Scotland / Alamy Stock Photo
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This mining and market town 13km (8mi) from Edinburgh was born in the Middle Ages as a baronial burgh. A tempestuous history, some grand architecture, delightful countryside and exciting activities make it a fascinating and energising place to visit. Here are some of the top things to do in Dalkeith, Scotland.

1. Cycle Dalkeith Country Park


The Montagu Bridge and the River South Esk, Dalkeith Country Park, Dalkeith, Midlothian
© Keith Fergus / Alamy Stock Photo
Rolling parkland, pretty woodland, wildlife trails and the flowing River Esk provide a stunning locale for traffic-free cycling at this beautiful country park, the jewel in Dalkeith’s town centre. For a relatively easy route, follow the 6km (4mi) Estate Cycle to take in the whole park. If you want to take on some more adventurous terrain (suitable for mountain bikes), continue along the North Wood Walk signed with dotted green waymarkers. If you’re in the area during the festive season, be sure to catch the park’s annual Spectacle of Light.

2. Visit the National Mining Museum


This five-star visitor attraction is a two-time winner of the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions Best Visitor Experience Award and sits on the site of the Lady Victoria Colliery in Newtongrange (just outside Dalkeith). The mine opened in 1895 as Scotland’s first super-pit and continued producing until 1981. It’s a thought-provoking journey as you retrace the footsteps and struggles of thousands of miners and their families through the various exhibits. The site is an architectural wonder, often hosting weddings in its steampunk-style main hall.

3. Book a yoga class at Restoration Yard


The Restoration Yard Dalkeith Country Park near Edinburgh
© Tom Richardson Scotland / Alamy Stock Photo

You’ll find the trendy Restoration Yard within the grounds of Dalkeith Country Park. Here, you can shop, eat and restore. An airy, contemporary wellbeing lab and sanctuary provide the perfect settings for rejuvenating yoga sessions, including sunrise, outdoor, healing, energising or evening reset classes. Pilates, mindfulness and baby-sensory classes are also available, along with one-off wellness workshops.

4. Keep fit with parkour at Ryze

Amusement Park, Fitness Studio

Ryze, on Mayfield Industrial Estate just out of the main town, offers nearly 3,716sqm (40,000sqft) of equipment. It’s so much more than just trampolines, though – the interconnected areas include foam pits, dodgeball, trapezes, hanging bags, obstacles, inflatables and a climbing wall. You can also book aerobic classes and parkour workshops in-house. Keeping fit has never been so fun, and it’s certainly not just for kids.

5. Take tea and a tour at Newbattle Abbey

Building, Monastery

Newbattle Abbey, now a further education college, near Dalkeith, Scotland.
© Mike Rex / Alamy Stock Photo
Founded as a Cistercian monastery in 1140, Newbattle Abbey has also served as a college and family home. You can book a tour with one of the volunteer guides to hear about the visits of Queen Victoria and George IV, view what is thought to be the christening font of Mary, Queen of Scots, learn more about the Cistercian monks and explore the stunning Italian Garden. Afterwards, you can enjoy a decadent afternoon tea in the sumptuous drawing room.

6. Join a Dark and Deadly Walking Tour at Dalkeith Museum


The town’s gruesome history of witches and war provides rich material for this spooky tour. Beginning at the Duke’s Gates, you’ll be guided along High Street to the Corn Exchange, the Tolbooth, and High School Close, and then into the churchyard of St Nicholas, before heading along Sale Brae to the Watch Tower and on to the Dalkeith Museum. The night ends with more terrible tales and a glass of wine as you explore the exhibits.

7. Shop at the Dobbies Garden Centre


Dalkeith’s Dobbies Garden Centre is somewhat of a tardis. Not only does it sell a wide range of household and outdoor equipment, but it’s also home to a large and superb local farm shop selling oodles of organic Midlothian fare. There are often plentiful all-Scottish tasters, with the selection of flavoured vinegar and oils especially popular. Look out for the bargain counter if you’re on a budget and hunting for a great deal.

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