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Boats and Bridges: Life in Ratho

Meandering along the side of the famous Union Canal and tucked in between Ratho Golf Club and the International Climbing Arena, Ratho is a slice of Scottish history just four miles from Edinburgh.

Witches and Whin

In 1971 the older part of Ratho village was designated a Conservation Area by Midlothian County Council, marking it as an area of special architectural or historical interest. Much of the village is built from Whin stone from the nearby quarry and many of these older buildings have been lovingly preserved, with some parts of the village dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries.

But if you’re ever in the mood for something even older, take a walk to the southwest of the village and up Tormain Hill to see the Stone Age symbols carved into the rocks and the site of the Witches’ Stone. But be warned, some locals say that when the land owner moved the Witches’ Stone for farming, the evil spirits were released into the village.


Ratho Primary School is a popular choice for children in Ratho village, but also attracts pupils from Wilkieston, Kirkliston and all over Newbridge. It welcomes boys and girls and currently has 183 pupils, with an average of 17 pupils per teacher. Then there’s the smaller Hillwood Primary School in nearby Newbridge, with just 68 pupils and an average of 14 children per teacher.

Older children tend to opt for Balerno High School. Located in the neighbouring village just south of Ratho, this school caters for around 700 pupils with an average 13 pupils to every teacher. Like Ratho, Balerno has a lot of history and makes for a beautiful location for your kids to spend their days.

Or if you’re looking for a different educational journey, check out Clifton Hall School. This independent school caters for boys and girls from nursery age right through to A-Levels. Capped at 400 pupils, the school offers an individual style and quality of education. 

Local amenities

Ratho wouldn’t have earned its reputation as an ancient, peaceful village if it was packed with shops, so there’s no John Lewis or TK Maxx on this high street. What you will find, though, is a quaint little village shop and post office with an adjacent pharmacy. There’s also a library, a garage and a surgery, so all your essential errands can be completed with a quick wander down the main street.

For all your other needs, Edinburgh is just a few miles away, and the always reliable Lothian buses run regular services between Ratho and the city.

Out and About

Two of Ratho’s most famous attractions can be found right next to each other. The Union Canal and the Bridge Inn sit at the northeast of the village. The Canal winds its way from Ratho to Lochrin Basin in Edinburgh, a total of 12.75 miles of beautiful waterways and walks. The Bridge Inn is a traditional pub serving Scottish produce and a great selection of local beers and lagers, with a spacious beer garden overlooking the canal. Or if you feel like kicking it up a notch, the nearby Edinburgh International Climbing Arena offers all sorts of extreme activities in a safe environment. Including climbing, bouldering, fitness classes, judo, playrooms for kids and a ceramics studio. 

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