The Scottish Borders is filled with adventure, activity, culture and tranquility. From the Borders Textile Trail to Hadrian's Wall, Scottish history still plays a big part in local life. Especially Common Ridings, which can be traced back to the 13th and 14th centuries when the tribal custom of cattle thieving, or reiving, was common can still be observed today. In those times, townspeople would ride their boundaries, or ‘marches’, to protect their common lands and today, each Borders town celebrates its history once a year between June and August with magnificent rideouts involving hundreds of horses.
Melrose is a pretty historic town known throughout the world as the home of the rugby sevens and the setting for the magnificent Melrose Abbey. Melrose offers a good range of boutique shops, tearooms, restaurants and hotels and is the gateway to the Eildon Hills which offer breathtaking views. Visit Scott’s View and take in one of Scott’s favourite views of the River Tweed and Eildon Hills. It is said that the horse pulling the hearse taking Scott to his final resting place at Dryburgh Abbey stopped at this spot, as it usually did on its daily outings with Sir Walter.
Once a thriving centre of the Borders textile industry, Galashiels offers a range of local attractions, shops, accommodation and museums such as Old Gala House which hosts exciting temporary exhibitions and tells the tale of this historic town. Galashiels also offers good transport links to other towns in the region, Edinburgh and Carlisle.
Spend time discovering the historic royal burgh of Selkirk and Scott’s career as Sheriff-Depute in the old Courtroom. It features an exhibition on Scott’s life with original artefacts and objects and displays on Selkirkshire’s other famous sons, James Hogg and Mungo Park. In Selkirk, you will not only find lovely shops and eating places but attractions including working mills such as Lochcarron of Scotland Visitor Centre, which continue to produce tweed and tartan for a worldwide clientele.
Bowhill is the seat of the Dukes of Buccleuch, whom Scott regarded as the ‘chiefs’ of the clan Scott. Scott had close links to the 3rd, 4th and 5th Dukes and the present day Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry carries on the tradition as patron of the Abbotsford Trust. See the breathtaking artworks on display, visit the tea room, Victorian kitchen and children’s play areas or go on a relaxing estate walk.
Visit Traquair House, the oldest inhabited house in Scotland dating from the 12th century. Enjoy the house and extensive grounds, discovering its Jacobite heritage, maze, restaurant and the famous Traquair House Brewery.
Floors Castle in Kelso is the magnificent seat of the Duke of Roxburghe and was designed by leading Edinburgh architect William Adam for the 1st Duke in 1721, though later remodeled by William Playfair, to house the Duke's outstanding collection of fine art, furniture, porcelain and tapestries. On the outskirts of Kelso, Mellerstain House, is a beautiful stately home built by Robert Adam. Visit and be inspired by the friendly atmosphere and romantic location of one of Scotland’s greatest Georgian houses.
Situated in 80 acres of woodland and riverside scenery, Paxton House, close to Berwick-on-Tweed, has one of the UK’s foremost collections of Chippendale and William Trotter furniture, while Manderston in Duns is the swan-song of Edwardian Scotland. No expense was spared and within its opulent rooms, you can find the only silver-staircase in the world and extensive "downstairs" domestic quarters. Close by, in Eyemouth, you'll also find Gunsgreen House. Built in 1753 by local smuggler John Nisbet, and of a John Adam design the architecture includes secret hiding places where smuggled goods were kept.
See other places to explore in this guide from DONATE.