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Musselburgh

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Musselburgh is the largest town in East Lothian in central Scotland, six miles east of Edinburgh city centre. It's been inhabited for thousands of years, and the Romans (who were fond of mussels) set up camp here circa 80 AD, and built a bridge over the River Esk that (now in its third incarnation) is still in use. The town's High Street was aligned with the Roman bridge but the New Bridge opened in 1806 to carry the Great North Road (the later A1), and the town developed a second spine. In the mid-1980s the A1 was diverted onto a bypass to the south. To the west, Musselburgh adjoins the Edinburgh suburbs of Portobello and Joppa. To the south was a mining district, now redeveloped, where Inveresk has somehow survived as a charming 17th / 18th C village. Musselburgh and its surrounds are nowadays part of Edinburgh's commuter belt; the main reason to visit is to go to the races.

Get in

For all long-distance travel by air, rail or bus, see Edinburgh. From the airport take Skylink Bus 400 to Fort Kinnaird, then local buses for the last 3 miles into town.

By bus

For long-distance coaches change in Edinburgh: these fly past on the A1 and don't call at Musselburgh. Lothian Buses 15, 26, 30 and 44 run to Musselburgh from Edinburgh.

East Coast Buses X5, 124 & X24 run from Edinburgh Fountainbridge along Princes St (close to but not into the bus station) then via Musselburgh along the coast road to North Berwick. They run daily every 30-60 mins.

East Coast Bus 104 runs every 30 mins from Edinburgh West End and Princes St via Musselburgh, Wallyford and Tranent to Haddington. East Coast Bus 106 starts from Fort Kinnaird then follows the same route from Musselburgh to Haddington; change at Haddington for buses to Dunbar and Berwick-upon-Tweed. East Coast Bus 113 runs from Edinburgh West End via Brunstane to Musselburgh then via Wallyford, Tranent and Ormiston to Pencaitland. There are night buses along these routes.

East Coast Bus 140 runs from Musselburgh via DalkeithLoanhead and Roslin (for Rosslyn Chapel) to Penicuik.

By train

Musselburgh has Scotrail trains hourly between Edinburgh Waverley (6 mins) and North Berwick (25 mins). Trains to Dunbar also stop here every couple of hours, but most trains whirl straight through - go into Edinburgh and change, even coming from the south eg Newcastle. 1 Musselburgh Railway Station is half a mile south of town centre. Trains for North Berwick (but not for Dunbar) also stop at 2 Wallyford, which is more convenient from the racecourse end of town.

3 Newcraighall has trains along the Borders Railway every 30 mins from Edinburgh to Newtongrange (for the Mining Museum), Galashiels (for buses to MelroseJedburghSelkirkHawick and Carlisle) and Tweedbank (for Abbotsford House).

By car

From central Edinburgh follow A1 Milton Road onto A199; from anywhere else in the city join the city bypass A720 and loop round.

Get around

The main town and racecourse are all walkable. Buses between High St and the railway station are Lothian Bus 30 and East Coast Bus 106.

See

  • 1 Newhailes House, Newhailes EH21 6RY (A mile west on A6095), ☏ +44 131 653 5599. Daily, daylight hours. National Trust for Scotland owned mansion house, little changed since the 18th century. Tranquil wooded grounds, open all year, nice for walking. House interior can only be seen by guided tour and is closed for repairs at least until April 2020, but the grounds remain open. House closed, grounds free.
  • 2 The Lagoons are on reclaimed land just north of the racecourse. Lots of resident and migratory birds here, and concrete hides to allow for observation.
  • Musselburgh Museum, 65 High Street (next to the Old Town Hall). Closed. This is closed because of a ceiling leak in Aug 2019. Repairs are under way but the re-opening date is tba. free.
  • 3 Inveresk Lodge Garden, 24 Inveresk Village EH21 7TE (A mile south of Musselburgh), ☏ +44 844 4932126. Daily 10:00-17:00. A garden on a domestic scale, open all year. The garden was designed in 1851 and restored by the National Trust for Scotland in 1959. No dogs. The adjacent Inveresk House (not open to the public) dates from the 17th century. Adult £3.

Do

  • The Brunton on Ladywell Way is a two-auditorium theatre with a year-round programme.
  • Go to the races at 1 Musselburgh Racecourse, Linkfield Road EH21 7RE (east edge of town), ☏ +44 131 665-2859, fax: +44 131 653-2083. This has flat-racing Apr-Oct and jumps races Nov-March, about once a fortnight.
  • Musselburgh Old Links, 10 Balcarres Road EH21 5SD, ☏ +44 131 665-5438. Oct-Mar 08:00-16:00, Apr-Sept 08:00-dusk. Located in the middle of the racecourse, this 9-hole links golf course is among the oldest continuously played courses in the world, dating back to 1672. Par 34. Players need to work around race fixtures. Adult £16.
  • 2 Royal Musselburgh Golf Club, Prestongrange House EH32 9RP (on B1361 towards Prestonpans), ☏ +44 1875 810 139. A picturesque parkland course, 6254 yards, par 70. Round midweek £65, weekend £75.
  • 3 Musselburgh Golf Club, Monktonhall Terrace EH21 6AX (B6415 towards Old Craighall), ☏ +44 131 665 2005. Parkland course, was the Open Championship Qualifying course for Scotland until 2010, and in 2013 was a Local Final Qualifying venue for the Open at Muirfield. Yellow tees 6241 yards, par 69. Round midweek £65, weekend £75.

Buy

  • The big local shopping centre is Fort Kinnaird, 3 miles west along Newhailes Road.

Eat

  • Along main drag are Gurkha Bar & Restaurant, Mario's Pizza, Caprice and Shish Mahal.
  • 1 Elena Di Rollo, 34 Bridge Street EH21 6AG. M-Sa 09:30-20:00, Su 11:30-20:00. A family-run business producing very good ice cream and other sweets.
  • 2 Luca's, 32 High Street EH21 7AG, ☏ +44 131 665-2237. M-Sa 09:00-22:00, Su 10:00-22:00. Long-established cafe / ice cream parlour.
  • If you eat mussels here, they may be Scottish but won't be local: the town's mussel beds were lost by the 20th C to over-harvesting and pollution. For centuries they had provided food, marl for fertiliser and construction, and a habitat for other marine life. There are initiatives to re-establish beds elsewhere in the British Isles, but it's unlikely to be feasible here so close to city industry.

Drink

  • Sportsman Bar, 58 High Street EH21 7BX (Towards the racecourse), ☏ +44 131 618-7123, ✉ thesportsmanbar@outlook.com. Su-Th 11:00-23:00, F Sa 11:00-00:00. Traditional, cheap & friendly local pub with an extensive range of wines, beers and spirits.
  • The David Macbeth Moir, 47 Bridge Street EH21 6AG. Su-Th 08:00-23:00, F Sa 08:00-01:00. JD Wetherspoon's pub in a former cinema, with the usual cheap real ales and large menu.

Sleep

  • B&Bs in town centre are Ravelston House at 182 North High St and Arden House by the racecourse. Inveresk House is a mile south.
  • A couple of chain hotels lie along A1 to the south of town: Travelodge are in the Moto Service Area, jcn A1 and A720 (Edinburgh City Bypass), and Premier Inn are on Carberry Road near jcn A1 and A6094 Wallyford-Dalkeith road. They're only convenient if you have a car.
  • 1 Carberry Tower Mansion House, Carberry Tower Estate EH21 8PY (A6124 towards Pathhead), ☏ +44 131 665 3135. Upscale hotel in imposing mansion, rebuilt from the 18th C. You'll need a car. B&B double from £90.

Connect

Good signal this close to the city.

Go next

  • Edinburgh borders Musselburgh to the west. The big attractions are the Old Town and New Town, while other city areas convenient for Musselburgh are:
    • Portobello is the city's seaside resort. Arcade games, fish & chips and a nice promenade walk; the beach itself isn't much.
    • Leith is the old port and still in use. See the Royal Yacht Britannia and explore the cobbled Georgian centre.
    • South side is Arthur's Seat, Duddingston and Craigmillar Castle.
  • Go east along A198 the coast road to Gullane and North Berwick, for sand hills, golf courses, and the crags of North Berwick Law and Bass Rock.
  • The main road A1 breaks free of the burbs at Haddington. Continue east to Dunbar, and a series of attractive little coves and harbours in the cliffs of Berwickshire.





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