Midlothian Council has bid for funding to carry out three initiatives to develop the county as a destination for walking and cycling via the railway.
The council estimates that around £98 million of tourism income is brought into Midlothian annually, and that 38 per cent of visitors visit the county’s countryside.
In a bid to become “Edinburgh’s Countryside”, Midlothian has made three proposals to increase visitor numbers to the county.
Firstly, the council wants to create a gateway to explore Midlothian from Eskbank Station along Midlothian’s spinal cycle walkway. It is hoped that this initiative will increase footfall at visitor attractions in the county.
The total cost of this would be £76,500. Half of that would come from the Borders Railway Blueprint funding pot, £5,750 from the council, and the rest coming from other external funding.
The second proposal is to make Midlothian’s train stations key departure points for walking and cycling in Midlothian. The cost of this is included in the first proposal.
The third proposal would connect Gorebridge and its train station to the Gore Glen Woodland Park and wider countryside, at a cost of £33,000. Half the funds would again come from the Borders Railway Blueprint fund, with £15,000 from the Forestry Commission.
Midlothian Council’s head of commercial operations Ricky Moffatt told last week’s cabinet meeting all about these plans to boost tourism.
He said: “This is the tip of the iceberg. We recognise there is a vast number of people that can be attracted to Midlothian for a number of reasons.
“This is about making the routes more attractive.
“It’s also about highlighting where these routes are, where they can go, the various routes from the railway stations and creating routes that don’t currently exist.
“We are going to make these bids. Depending on our success with them, we will come forward with a further report in due course to let cabinet know how we get on.”
The cabinet member for transport, Councillor Derek Rosie (SNP), welcomed the bids. He said: “In Midlothian I don’t think we make enough of what we have got here.
“It’s good to see that we are now moving in that direction with this funding.
“I think it’s important to link into our communities with this.
“It was good to see yesterday our hop-on-hop-off bus starting. I will certainly be making use of my bus pass to get on it.
“It’s another message of investment by Midlothian Council and we are being pro-active by going for the funding.
“It’s to be congratulated.
“A lot of things have been happening in the cycling front too, and that’s to be recognised.”