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Borders

The Scottish Borders—comprised of rolling hills and moorland in the west and valleys, agricultural plains and rocky coastline in the east—suffered from its location on the common border with England. It was fought over during the times of border raids between the two countries.

Eildon Hills by Barbara Ballard Here in the hills and valleys are many reminders of the past. Historic houses abound, and abbey ruins attest to the past religious importance of the area. The later history of the area belongs to the weaving industry, carried on today by the town of Hawick, home to factory outlets and knitwear. A Border Common Ridings, held in early summer, commemorates the event in 1514 when Hawick defeated English soldiers and captured their banner.

Hermitage Castle by Barbara Ballard Close to the border along Liddel Water, the planned village of Newcastleton was founded in 1793 by the Duke of Buccleuch as a handloom weaving centre. Near to the village, sitting alone in the countryside, Hermitage Castle is a vast 14th and 15th century ruin, home of the Earl of Bothwell, and associated with the Douglas family and Mary Queen of Scots. It was restored in the 19th century. Nearby is 14th century Hermitage Chapel.

Jedburgh Abbey by Barbara Ballard Jedburgh Abbey was founded in 1138 by David I as an Augustinian priory. The church is roofless but otherwise mostly complete. There are Romanesque and Gothic details, and the original 12th century west front still stands. The foundations are all that remains of the cloister buildings. The coronation of Malcolm IV and the marriage of Alexander III took place here.

Mary Queen Scots house by Barbara Ballard The Jedburgh castle jail and museum is a Georgian prison that shows prison life of the period as well as the history of the town. Also in Jedburgh is a 16th century L-shaped tower house visited and lived in by Mary Queen of Scots in 1566. The ground floor kitchen is cobbled and barrel vaulted. Engraved glass panels, paintings, documents and relics tell the story of the life of the doomed Queen.

Dryburgh Abbey by Barbara Ballard Dryburgh Abbey, a substantial Premonstratensian ruin from the 12th and 13th centuries sits in seclusion on the River Tweed. The grave of Sir Walter Scott is in the north transept. He visited the abbey many times during his lifetime. Along the road, ‘Scott’s view’ is named after the place where he usually stopped to look over to the Eildon Hills, former volcanic cores that stand out from the surrounding land.

Kelso Abbey by Barbara Ballard Kelso, at the junction of the rivers Tweed and Teviot, is home to Kelso Abbey. The 1128 abbey was pillaged for stone after its destruction, so little remains of this greatest and richest of the Border abbeys. The west front and tower are the most interesting part. James III was crowned here. The town’s five-arched bridge over the Tweed, built by John Rennie in 1803, was the model for London's Waterloo Bridge.

Floors Castle garden by Barbara Ballard Overlooking the town is Floors Castle, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe and the largest inhabited mansion in Britain. The palatial home, originally built between 1721 and 1726 by William Adam, was remodelled in the 19th century. The exterior is decorated with turrets, chimneys and castellations. The superb art collection includes works by Matisse, tapestries (a rare 16th century Brussels tapestry is in the anteroom), oriental porcelain, an outstanding collection of French furniture and Fabergé ornaments. The castle was used in the film, Greystoke.

Smailholm Tower by Barbara Ballard Smailholm Tower, between Melrose and Kelso, is an example of the fortified tower homes needed in the 16th century for protection against border raids. It sits on a rocky outcrop with a view over the countryside. Inside is a model of the former residence depicting tower house life, a collection of costume figures and tapestries.

Mellerstain by Barbara Ballard Mellerstain House, with its castle style exterior, is the home of the Earls of Haddington. Two wings of the house were built in 1725 by William Adam and added to in 1765 by Robert Adam. The library is considered one of the finest Adam designed rooms. There are plasterwork ceilings, friezes and fireplaces and a collection of paintings. Terraced gardens add to the beauty of the exterior.

Melrose Abbey by Barbara Ballard Melrose Abbey, in the valley of the river Tweed, is one of the most famous ruins in Scotland. It was founded in 1136 by David I as a Cistercian abbey, sacked by Edward II and destroyed by Richard II. The substantial Gothic ruins of the abbey and cloister date from the reconstruction of 1400. The exterior decorative sculpture and fine traceried stonework survive. Robert the Bruce’s heart is reportedly buried here. In the Commendator's House is a collection of objects found during excavation of the abbey grounds.

At the town of Melrose is the Trimontium museum, home to a Romano-Celtic exhibition. On offer are illustrated panels, artefacts, aerial photographs, artists' drawings, models, maps, a blacksmith's workshop, a Roman kitchen and pottery, replica armour, and a video explaining it all.

Abbotsford House in the surrounding countryside by Barbara Ballard By the river Tweed about three miles from Melrose is Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott. He tore down a farmhouse on the site and built the house in 1822 in the medieval style. A wing was added during the 1850s after his death. The entrance hall is decorated with richly carved wooden panelling from Dunfermline Abbey Church. In the house is an important collection of armour, a library of books and a collection of curiosities, including a glass belonging to Robert Burns, Rob Roy souvenirs, and a desk from George IV. The Royal Burgh of Selkirk was where Sir Walter Scott served as sheriff for 33 years. His former courtroom is now a museum featuring an audio-visual presentation that tells the story of Scott's associations with the area and its people.

Bowhill  courtesy Barbara Carr Geograph Britain and Ireland Near Selkirk, Bowhill House and Country Park was the home of the Scots of Buccleuch. Although built earlier, the house, as it stands, dates mainly from 1812 alterations. In the house is one of the best art collections of any house in Britain, including Old Master paintings. Elizabeth Montagu, one of England’s greatest heiresses lived here. There is a portrait of her by Reynolds and one of her husband by Gainsborough. The house also contains French furniture, tapestries and continental porcelain. A room is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott and contains mementos of him.

Thirlestane Castle by Barbara Ballard Thirlestane Castle, in the Lammermuir hills near Lauder, is the home of the Earls and Duke of Lauderdale, the Maitland family. The original keep was completed in 1590 and extended in the 1670s; matching wings were added in 1840. There are decorative plasterwork ceilings and a grand balustraded staircase, a historic toy collection and a museum of Border Country Life.

Traquair courtesy Graham Horn Geograph Britain and Ireland West Linton, a historic conservation village, is situated at the foot of the Pentland Hills. The town of Peebles retains its old Mercat cross. Traquair House, near the town of Peebles, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited houses in Scotland. Traquair started as a royal hunting lodge as early as 1107 then became a fortified tower. It has been extended and altered over the years: in the 16th and 17th centuries it was turned into a mansion house. In 1491, James Stuart inherited it, and the house has been in the hands of the same family ever since.

Traquair House gates courtesy James Denham Geograph Britain and Ireland Mary, Queen of Scots, visited Traquair in 1556, and there are many of her personal belongings and mementos here (a quilt stitched by her and her ladies in waiting, James VI’s crib, a rosary and a copy of the warrant for her execution). In the house are portraits, a state bed and a library of 3000 books from the 18th century. The museum room contains historical documents. Hidden passageways, cupboards and secret staircases attest to the family’s Catholic faith and need to hide a priest in the house. The famous Bear Gates (Steekit Yetts) were, according to legend, closed by the 5th Earl in1745 when Prince Charlie left, and the Earl vowed never to reopen them until the Stuarts were restored to the throne.

In the east at Coldstream is a museum detailing the history of the Coldstream Guards regiment and the town itself. During Coldstream civic week in the summer there’s a ride to Flodden Field (on the border in England) to honour the dead of the battle of 1513.

Eyemouth Harbour by Barbara Ballard Along the coastline of the Borders is the fishing town of Eyemouth, where a museum tells the fascinating story of the town and its industries. By the harbour is a maritime museum with changing displays related to the town’s maritime history which included smuggling. It’s a friendly town with many amenities for visitors.

St Abb's Head by Barbara Ballard Nearby is St Abbs Marine Reserve where porpoises and seals can be spotted. Also here is a National Nature Reserve under the care of the National Trust for Scotland. Large colonies of birds are on view from April to August.

Paxton House and garden by Barbara Ballard By Berwick-upon-Tweed is Paxton House, an elegant mansion built in 1773, and one of the best examples of Palladian architecture in Britain. Mahogany Chippendale furniture is on show. The art gallery was added in 1811 and houses pictures on loan from the National Gallery of Scotland. Gardens and riverside walks complete the picture.

Manderston House garden by Barbara Ballard Inland near the village of Duns is Manderston a sumptuous Edwardian mansion. The home of Lord and Lady Palmer was built by Scottish architect John Kinross in the manner of Robert Adams. Plasterwork ceilings and wall panels, urns, inlaid marble floors, columns, silk and velvet wall hangings and curtains woven with gold or silver threads delight the eye. A splendid cantilevered marble staircase with silver-plated balustrade and brass top rail is an ‘over the top’ extravagance.

Manderston House kitchen courtesy National Trust for Scotland Life “upstairs” and “downstairs” is on display. The stables, thought to be the finest in the world, feature teak and tiled troughs and marbled panels. The house contains the world’s largest private collection of Blue John (a rare semi-precious stone found only one place in the world—Derbyshire. The estate’s huge gates are gilded. There are formal and woodland gardens and a dairy with marble from seven countries.

Fishing, golf, riding, walking and cycling are outdoor activities enjoyed in many areas of the Borders.

Borders Tourist Information Centres

Eyemouth
Auld Kirk, Market Place
Eyemouth, TD14 5HE
Tel: 0 8706 080 404
Open: April-June, first week Sep-Oct: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-1pm; July-end first week Sep, Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-2pm; Oct: Mon Sat 10am-5pm

Galashiels
Galashiels Information Point
The Library, Lawyers Brae
Galashiels TD1 3JQ
Tel. 0 8706 080 404
Open: Unmanned

Harestanes Information Point
Ancrum, Jedburgh, TD8 6UQ
Tel. 0 8706 080 404
Open: April-Oct: daily 10am-5pm

Hawick
Tower Mill, Hawick
Open: Mon and Wed, 10am-5.30pm; Tue and Thu, 10am-6.15pm; Fri and Sat, 10am-7.45pm; Sun, noon-3.30pm

Jedburgh
Murray's Green, Abbey Place
Jedburgh TD8 6BE
Tel: 0 8706 080 404
Open: April-May and Oct: Mon-Sat 9:15am-5pm; Sun 10am-5pm; June-July and Sep: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm; Aug: Mon-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm

Kelso
Town House, The Square
Kelso TD5 7HF
Tel. 0 8706 080 404
Open: April-May: Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun 10am-2 pm; June, Sep, Oct, Nov: Mon-Sat 9:30am-5pm, Sun, 10am-2pm; July and Aug: Mon-Sat 9:30am-5:30pm, Sun 10am-2pm; Jan-March: Fri, Sat, Mon, 10am-2pm

Melrose
Abbey House, Abbey Street
Melrose TD6 9LG
Tel: 0 8706 080 404
Open: April-May: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-2pm; June and Sep: 9:30am-5pm, Sun 10am-2pm; July and Aug: 9:30am-5:30pm, Sun 10am-4pm; Oct: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 10am-2pm; Nov-March: Sat and Mon 10am-2pm, Sun from noon-4pm

Peebles
23 High St, Peebles, EH45 8AG
Tel. 0 8706 080 404
Open: April-May: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm; June and Sep: Mon-Sat 9am-5:30pm, Sun 11am-4pm; July and Aug: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-4pm; Oct-Dec: 9:30am-5pm, Sun 11am-3pm; Jan-March: Mon-Sat, 9.30am-4pm

Scottish Borders Information Point
Candy’s Kitchen, 51 High St
Coldstream TD12 4DH
Tel. 0 8706 080 404
Open: unmanned

Selkirk TIC
Halliwells House, Market Place
Selkirk, TD7 4BL
Tel. 0 870 6080404
Open: mid April-June and mid to end Sep: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-noon; July-mid Sep: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-1pm; Oct: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 10am-noon.

Borders Attractions
For full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.

Abbotsford House
Two miles (3km) southeast of Galashiels, near Melrose
Off the A72/A6091 on the B6360 by the River Tweed
Tel. 0 1896 752 043
Web: Abbotsford

Ayton Castle
1.5 miles (2.4km) southeast of Eyemouth
On the B6355
Tel. 0 18907 81212

Bowhill House and Country Park
Three miles (5km) west of Selkirk
Off A708 Moffat Rd
Tel. 0 1750 22204

Cockburnspath Parish Church
Cockburnspath, on A1

Coldingham Priory
Coldingham
Tel. NA

Coldstream Museum
Coldstream, Berwickshire
On the A697
Tel. 0 1890 882 630

Cross Kirk
Cross Rd, Peebles, on the A72

Dawyck Botanic Garden
Stobo, on the B712, 8 miles south-east of Pebbles
Tel. 0 1721 760 254

Drumlanrig’s Tower Visitor Centre
Hawick High St
Tel. 0 1450 377 615

Dryburgh Abbey
Five miles (8km) southeast of Melrose
Follow B6356 towards Dryburgh and turn right on B6404 after passing Scott’s View; then follow the road for 6 miles (10km) to the Abbey
Tel. 0 1835 822 381

Duns Nature Reserve
Located near the village of Duns, A6105, in Duns castle estate

Edin’s Hall Broch
On northeastern slope of Cockburn Law hill, 4.5 miles (7km) from Grantshouse, (A1); reached by a mile walk from the A6112, then 2 miles by footpath

Eildon Hills
Near Melrose

Equestrian Monument
At northern end of the High St. in Hawick
On the A7

Eyemouth Museum
Auld Kirk, Manse Rd, Eyemouth
On the A1107
Tel: 0 18907 50678
For photos and more details see our article Eyemouth

Ferniehirst Castle
Two miles (3km) south of Jedburgh
On the A68
Tel. 0 1835 862 201

Floors Castle
On the outskirts of Kelso
Off the A6089, overlooking the River Tweed
Tel. 0 1573 223 333
Web: Floors Castle

Greenknowe Tower
.5 mile (.8km) west of Gordon
On the A6105

Gunsgreen House
Gunsgreen Quay, Eyemouth
Reached by foot only
Tel. 0 1890 752 062
For photos and more details see our article Eyemouth
Web: Gunsgreen House

Halliwell’s House Museum
Halliwell’s Close, Market Place, High St, Selkirk, on the A7
Tel. 0 1750 20096

Harmony Garden
St Mary’s Rd, Melrose, on the A72
Tel. 0 1721 722 502

Hermitage Castle
5.5 miles (8.9km) northeast of Newcastleton, off the Hawick-Newcastleton Road; off the B6399, off the B6357
Tel. 0 1387 376 222
For photos and more information see our article
Hermitage Castle

Hirsel Gardens and Country Park
West of Coldstream, off the A697
Tel. 0 1890 882 834

Hume Castle
Hume
Tel. NA

Jedburgh Abbey
Jedburgh, on A68/B6368
Tel. 0 1835 863 925

Jedburgh Castle Jail and Museum
Castle Gate, Jedburgh, on the A68
Tel. 0 1835 863 254

Kailzie Gardens
Kailzie, Peebles (2.5 miles from town centre); EH45 9HT
Tel. 0 1721 720007
For photos and more information see our article Kailzie Gardens
Web: Kailzie Gardens

Kelso Abbey
Kelso, on the A698

Liddesdale Trust Museum
South Hermitage Street, Newcastleton
Tel. 0 13873 75283/75259

Lochcarron Knitting Mill
Waverley Mill, Dunsdale Rd, Selkirk
Tel. 0 1750 726 100
Web: Lochcarron Knitting Mill

Manderston
Two miles (3km) east of Duns
Off the A6105
Tel. 01361 883 450
Web: Manderston

Mary Queen of Scots House
Jedburgh, on A68
Tel. 0 1835 863 331

Mellerstain House
Six miles (10km) northwest of Kelso
Off the A6089
Tel 01573 410 225
Web: Mellerstain

Melrose Abbey
Melrose, on the B6360
Tel. 0 1896 822 562

Mertoun House Gardens
Off the A68/A699 at St. Boswell’s
Tel. 0 1835 823 236

Neidpath Castle
One mile (1.6km) west of Peebles, on the A72
Tel. 01721 720 333

Paxton House Gallery and Country Park
Five miles (8km) west of Berwick-upon-Tweed
On the B6461
Tel. 01289 386 291
Web: Paxton

Priorwood Garden and Dried Flower Shop
Melrose, off the A6091 next to the Abbey
Tel. 0 1896 822 493

Robert Smail’s Printing Works
7/9 High St, Innerleithen, on the A72
Tel. 0 1896 830 206

Scottish Museum of Woollen Textiles
Walkerburn, on the A72

Sir Walter Scott’s Courtroom
Market Place, Selkirk, A708
Tel: 0 1750 20096

Smailholm Tower
The Borders
Minor road off the B6397 near Smailholm village or off B6404, 6 miles (10km) northwest of Kelso
Tel. 0 1573 460 365

St Abbs Head National Nature Reserve
Two miles (3km) north of Coldingham
Off the A1107
Tel. 0 18907 71443

St Ebba Monastery
One mile north of St Abbs

Teviot Water Gardens
On the B6400/A698, south of Kelso
Tel. 0 1835 830 380

Thirlestane Castle
Lauder, on the A68
Tel. 0 1578 722 430
Web: Thirlestane Castle

Traquair House
Six miles (10km) southeast of Peebles
At junction of B709 and B7062
Tel. 0 1896 830 323
Web: Traquair

Trimontium Museum
Melrose, on B6360
Tel. 0 1896 822 651 or 0 1896 822 463
Web: Trimontium Museum

Waterloo Monument
3 miles (5km) north of Jedburgh by the A68, then B6400

Photos by Barbara Ballard and
Manderston kitchen courtesy Historic Scotland and
Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Bowhill House courtesy Barbara Carr
Traquair House courtesy Graham Horn
Traquair House gates courtesy James Denham

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Our Borders Articles
Hermitage Castle
Sir Walter Scott
Eyemouth
Border Beauties
Dawyck Botanical Gardens
Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh
Kailzie Gardens
Floors Castle

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A great place to stay near several attractions

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