Kelso is one of the most attractive towns in the Borders, if not in the whole of Scotland. Situated at the convergence of the two great salmon rivers, the Tweed and the Ettrick, it clusters round its elegant cobbled square and has an impressive ruined abbey.
Kelso Self Catering Cottages
Of Historical Interest
Kelso has a magnificent setting on the River Tweed to the east of Melrose and north-east of Jedburgh. Its cobbled market square surrounded by Georgian buildings and narrow wynds, together with some interesting shops and a pottery, attracts many tourists and locals.
With an ice rink, race course, leisure centre, golf course and horse riding nearby, there is no shortage of things to do. It is also within easy reach of Edinburgh, the beaches of the Berwickshire coast and the lovely Border countryside.
The Benedictine Kelso Abbey was ruined in the 16th century but part of the Norman abbey church and abbey towers remain the latter sometimes being considered as one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Scotland. Nearby is the Old Parish Church, built in an octagonal design in 1773.
Floors Castle (about a mile north-west of the town) was designed by William Adam in the 1720s for the first Duke of Roxburgh and was extended in the 1840s. It is Scotland's largest inhabited mansion and contains some fine examples of 17th century Brussels and Gobelin tapestries, paintings by Augustus John, Odilon Redon and Henri Matisse, and oakcarvings in the ballroom. The tenth Duke of Roxburgh is a close friend of royalty and it is said that Prince Andrew proposed to Sarah Ferguson here in 1986. A walk towards the Tweed takes you to an old holly tree which marks the spot where James II was killed by a canon during the siege of Roxburgh Castle - his son aged nine was crowned at Kelso Abbey.
Mellerstain House, the home of the 13th Earl of Haddington, is situated about six miles north-west of Kelso off the A6089 and was designed by William Adam in 1725 and later extended by his son Robert. It is well worth a visit for its ornamental ceilings, library, art collection (which includes works by Constable, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Ramsay and Veronese) and walks through the Edwardian gardens.
A couple of miles south-west of Mellerstain House, perched on a rocky knoll, is the 15th century Smailholm Tower (off the B6397) which was built to withstand raids by clans from both sides of the Scottish-English border. Sir Walter Scott, the famous Scottish poet and author, often visited his grandfather at the nearby Sandyknowe farm in the 1770s and the tower provided inspiration for some of his poems. The tower contains a small exhibition and the views from the top are extensive.
Activities and Events
For a peaceful stroll along the banks of the River Tweed from Kelso towards Floors Castle, follow the Cobby Riverside Walk which can be accessed off Roxburgh Street. Kirk Yetholm, six miles south-east of Kelso at the foot of the Cheviot Hills, marks the end of the Pennine Way and the second leg of St Cuthbert's Way.
Another walk is the 12 mile Kelso to Jedburgh section of the Borders Abbeys Way which passes the banks of the River Teviot. The grounds of Floors Castle provide gentle walks and there is an interesting walled garden and garden centre.
Salmon fishing at the junction of the rivers Tweed and Teviot is internationally renowned but permits need to be booked years in advance and cost thousands of pounds. Permits for less expensive stretches can be bought from Tweedside Tackle in Bridge Street. The Roxburgh golf course, about two miles south-west of Kelso, is a challenging championship course, owned by the Duke of Roxburgh and there is a further golf course in Dunion Road. There is a swimming pool in Kelso.
The main Kelso festivals are the Border Union Dog Show in June, the Border Union Agricultural Show and Riding of the Marches in July, and the Kelso Rugby Sevens in September.