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The 19th century saw Sir Walter Scott establishing an international reputation as Scotland’s most prolific and successful writer, but his abiding interest – the one that gave him most pleasure – was tree-planting.
At Abbotsford Scott assembled an extensive woodland estate specifically adapted to its setting along the banks of the River Tweed. The landscape that Scott developed, laid out across expanses of previously unimproved land, was unique in scenic and horticultural terms.
Today, the Abbotsford Trust looks after 120 acres of land beside the Tweed, made up of meadow and native woodland, planted by Scott and his factotum Tom Purdie. Scott's own accounts of the Herculean efforts put into establishing his plantations are of significant value to the historical and sylvicultural nature of the countryside around Abbotsford, especially because at its highpoint, the estate spanned 1400 acres. The sumptuous, rolling landscape and speckled woodlands you find in this area are still irrevocably Scott's own.
Free and open to all, the Abbotsford Estate has a diverse mix of habitat, supporting a richness of species, from orchids and butterflies on the Haugh to badgers and bats in the woodland. Relax and enjoy a walk around the Abbotsford estate with our way-marked paths through Scott’s woodlands or along the banks of the River Tweed. You may even be lucky enough to encounter some of our more shy residents including otters in the River Tweed and red squirrels in the woodland; do let us know if you see them. Throughout the spring and summer the estate is full of bird song with goldfinch, nuthatch, chiff-chaff and swallows to name just a few. You might also hear the woodpeckers and tawny owls! Special mention though, should be reserved for the trees that have inhabited the Abbotsford estate since Sir Walter Scott’s time at Abbotsford.
Restoring Scott's Landscape
The Abbotsford Trust is responsibe for extending Scott's legacy of this beautiful designed landscape for the next 200 years and has thus undertaken n a major restoration of Sir Walter Scott's woodlands and paths. The programme was funded by WIAT (Woodlands In And Around Towns) and a private foundation.
The following work was carried out over the course of 2017: Old paths were opened up and improved, new signage and benches put in place, old views restored and the woodlands were thinned and spaces created so that the replanting of native trees could thrive. The trees selected for felling held in balance three priorities, namely the designed landscape, the biodiversity and the public's enjoyment of the estate at Abbotsford.
The new paths are now open, restoring Scott's vision of a Romantic designed landscape along the River Tweed. Discover this unique path network on a walk on the estate and see the seasons change. Further information is also available at our visitor centre information board and a bigger version of the new map can be found in the downloads below.
The Abbotsford Ranger Service
Find out more about the work of the Abbotsford Ranger Service on biodiversity, path maintenence and more.
Paths Around Abbotsford
If you're looking to explore the area, why not take in connecting walks from Melrose and Galashiels.