Why the Scottish Borders shouldn’t be neglected

For severe lovers of Scotland, after arriving within the capital Edinburgh and earlier than heading north into the Highlands — their sacred vacation spot is the Borders, just one hour to the south. 

This area is the least traveled a part of the nation, nevertheless it’s additionally one the place storied castles, serene abbeys, refined cities and salmon-stocked rivers are in ample provide. Equally, there are as many unanticipated pleasures and treasures right here, and the seek for the surprising within the Borders helps make it a gripping vacation spot, whether or not you’re a first-timer or common customer.

From the Tweed Valley to the North Beach, listed here are among the greatest experiences within the Borders.

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The tomb of Sir Walter Scott might be seen within the wreck of Dryburgh Abbey ©  Jan Holm / Shutterstock

1. Stroll within the footsteps of Sir Walter Scott

Polymath Sir Walter Scott was a historic novelist, essayist, poet, diplomat, archivist and treasure hunter, however he was additionally an intemperate advocate for the fun of journey within the Borders. Within the early Nineteenth-century, the Rob Roy and Ivanhoe writer lived at Abbotsford Home, a grand literary manor close to Melrose, and it makes an excellent start line for a tour of Scott Nation. 

The novelist indelibly left his mark within the surrounding valleys, so proceed south to market city Kelso, which he as soon as described as probably the most lovely, if not probably the most romantic within the nation. Alternatively, keep nearer to Melrose for a basic half-day hill stroll traversing the summits of the heathery Eildon Hills — Scott’s favourite viewpoint in Scotland. Then lastly, pay your respects at swish Dryburgh Abbey, the place Sir Walter Scott’s Tomb stays tucked away within the northern transept. 

2. Sort out Scotland’s hardest bike trails

The super thrill of mountain biking within the Borders is introduced dwelling not simply by the single-track climbs by means of attractive pine woodlands, however by the sweeping descents, log pile obstacles and white-knuckle jumps that make you query gravity. 

The area is dwelling to 3 of the nation’s world-class “7stanes” mountain biking facilities, and every hotspot caters to a spectrum of riders, from anxious newcomers to endurance professionals. Each Glentress close to Peebles and Innerleithen within the Tweed Valley are the flag bearers for the game, with probably the most memorable downhill trails, family-friendly services and bike retailers, whereas Newcastleton near the border with England has the fewest crowds.

Native tip: For non-bikers, the birches and firs of Glentress are dwelling to 25 miles of woodland walks, in addition to stay osprey cams. To see the birds of prey aflutter throughout nesting season, go to between Might to September to find out about one in every of Scotland’s nice rewilding tales — the raptor was hunted to extinction in 1916, however has since returned to efficiently breed each summer season.

3. Sleep in a fortress like a laird or woman

As soon as owned by the Duke of Roxburghe, SCHLOSS Roxburghe is a rare place to remain, with nation sports activities galore throughout its 300-acre grounds — count on championship golf, horse driving, fly fishing, deer stalking and clay pigeon capturing. The Georgian nation home manor is one in every of a handful of fairytale stays within the Borders (Thirlestane Castle in Lauder and Stobo Castle close to Peebles are the others price a glance), however the German-owned bastion is probably the most prized due to its bejewelled intimacy and connections to native historical past and royal life. Presently, the dialog turns to the brand new marquee spa and extension which is able to open quickly.

Native tip: To study extra concerning the present and eleventh Duke of Roxburghe, pay a go to to close by Floors Castle. Scotland’s largest inhabited fortress, it’s a grandstanding fortress adorned with a Victorian walled backyard, riverside trails and cafes. Inside, the Duke has opened up an enormous swathe of his dwelling for guests — specifically, the luxurious eating room exists in suspended animation. 

Ruins of Jedburgh Abbey in the Scottish Borders region in Scotland
Admire Gothic and Romanesque structure within the Jedburgh Abbey wreck © SergeBertasiusPhotography / Shutterstock

4. Time journey to a Twelfth-century abbey

The Borders was as soon as fought over by the Scots and English for hundreds of years, with roads recast as invaders’ highways and church buildings and abbeys, ransacked, attacked and rebuilt. These days, on the map, the area is filled with ruined abbeys, whereas on the bottom they carry tales of monks who as soon as worshiped right here for hundreds of years.

Your first cease needs to be beautifully-preserved Melrose Abbey, the quintessential Home of God and a well-liked pilgrimage spot for contemporary Scots as a result of it’s the ultimate resting place of the center of warrior-poet Robert the Bruce. Elsewhere, Kelso Abbey was as soon as dwelling to one in every of Scotland’s largest and wealthiest spiritual paternities — spectacular structure right here is assured — whereas Jedburgh Abbey throws up thrives of Gothic and Romanesque structure. To finish the circuit, end virtually again the place you began at towering Dryburgh Abbey. 

Detour: To see the 4 abbeys as a Twelfth-century pilgrim may need carried out, set off on the 68-mile Borders Abbey Way, which stretches a wrinkled timeline between the nice holy homes.

5. Costume in Borders Tweed

Tweed, Scotland’s hard-wearing textile, was first invented on the banks of the River Tweed in Hawick and in the present day this heritage and fashionable design converge in a deep reverence for the material. Whereas the river and its many working mills are not the reason for this international trend pattern — everybody from Queen Elizabeth II and JFK to Sherlock Holmes to Coco Chanel as soon as turned out in Tweed — the story of Hawick’s weavers and knitters continues apace in the present day. 

At heritage model Lovat Mill, you may have your personal Tweed tailor-made when you wait, whereas family-run Hawico, with shops from St Moritz to Tokyo, produces cashmere knitwear from the manufacturing facility subsequent to its flagship customer heart. Different clothes kingpins shut at hand are luxurious retailers William Lockie and Johnstons of Elgin

Scottish seashore with cliffs. St Abb's Head National Nature Reserve on the Berwickshire coastline, Scotland, UK
Birdwatchers head to St Abb’s Head Nationwide Nature Reserve on the Berwickshire shoreline © Egor Baliasov / Shutterstock

6. Go to the seabird metropolis of St Abbs

The crags, coves and cliffs that interlock across the coastal headland of St Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve make it one in every of Britain’s most accessible bird-watching websites. Round you, colonies of guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills and fulmars, hunt, feed and fly, whereas the panorama is prime territory for bracing clifftop walks; there are a number of vertiginous vantage factors to look at the birds congregate and commute.

Planning tip: To see greater than 10,000 birds nesting, go to from Might to July. From late Might, the reserve can be the most effective locations to see sought-after puffin digging burrows alongside the wildflower-speckled clifftops.

Man fly-fishing on the River Tweed with the iconic Kelso Bridge at the background. Kelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland, UK
Fly-fishing on the River Tweed with the long-lasting Kelso Bridge within the background © Ulmus Media / Shutterstock

7. Hook a salmon

Day by day, when daybreak breaks softly, catch-and-release fisherfolk might be seen selecting among the many stones of the River Tweed. Working from Dawyck within the far west to the North Beach at Berwick-upon-Tweed, the river is the lifeblood of the Borders and its nutrient-rich waters make it a Shangri-La for salmon. 

In reality, extra salmon are fly-fished within the Borders than anyplace else in Britain, and there’s a thriving tourism business, with salmon beats and fishing swimming pools on virtually each river bend. The season begins in February and finishes in late November, though permits are important. For a serving to hand, a raft of tour operators provide guided salmon fishing breaks and packages.

Native tip: If you happen to hanker after a unique close-up, head as an alternative to the family-friendly Philiphaugh Salmon Viewing Centre close to Selkirk to gawp at wild salmon leaping the place the River Tweed meets Ettrick Water.

8. Uncover Scotland’s historical past in material

One of the clear-sighted tourism initiatives for a while is The Great Tapestry of Scotland, an formidable concept to depict Scotland’s 420-million 12 months historical past by means of sew and story. 

Appropriately positioned in a brand new customer heart in Galashiels, as soon as a powerhouse of mills producing eye-catching textiles, the gathering of 160 panels explores the lives of historic figures, in addition to tales of lesser recognized peoples and landscapes. 

The concept was the brainchild of Edinburgh-based writer Alexander McCall Smith and it took a military of 1,000 stitchers 50,000 hours to finish. Not solely is the tapestry an inventive masterpiece, however the heart is a hub for exhibitions of worldwide craft and design.

Native tip: Enterprise 50 minutes north to East Lothian to find the equally formidable Prestonpans Tapestry, which chronicles the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite military’s well-known victory over British Authorities forces in 1745.