Nestled under the legendary Eildon Hills and on the banks of the mighty River Tweed, Melrose is one of the most attractive of the Border towns. Attracted by its excellent facilities and the beauty and peace of the surrounding countryside visitors flock here every year.
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Of Historical Interest
Melrose is a charming village located between the River Tweed and the three heather-clad Eildon Hills in the central Borders and is a popular destination for tourists. Winner of the Scotland in Bloom competition in several years, the floral displays add to the attraction of the old cottages and Georgian and Victorian architecture in the square and surrounding streets.
Worth visiting are the National Trust Priorwood Garden near the Abbey, where you can buy a selection of dried flowers, and Harmony Garden nearby. The cosy Wynd Theatre provides a varied programme throughout the year from plays and films to jazz and folk music. The interesting shops and wide range of cafes, restaurants and pubs offer the visitor respite from exploring the historical attractions and enjoying the varied physical recreation available in or near Melrose.
Galashiels is the hub of Central Borders located about six miles west of Melrose. Although it has few tourist attractions, it provides the main supermarket outlets for central Borders, a cinema, nightclubs and a wide range of restaurants. It was formerly a thriving mill town renowned for its tweeds - and the Lochcarron Cashmere & Wool Centre offers tours of the factory and a museum.
Melrose Abbey, a two-minute walk from the square, is one of the most interesting of the Borders' abbeys. It was founded by David I in 1136 for Cisterian monks but was repeatedly razed during the 14th to 16th centuries. The existing remains are Gothic and many interesting features are still visible, such as the pig gargoyle playing the bagpipes on the roof.
Robert the Bruce rebuilt the abbey and his heart is buried in the abbey despite his dying wish for it to be taken on a crusade to the Holy Land and buried there by his friend - he was later killed in Spain and the heart returned to Melrose. The ruins were repaired by Sir Walter Scott in the 19th century. There are also ruins of other monastic buildings and a museum displaying interesting artefacts. The Abbey is open all year.
Evidence of the Roman occupation (such as the Trimontium Fort) can be found at the foothills of the Eildons with an interesting exhibition in Melrose. The regular guided Trimontium Walk takes visitors to the Roman sites including the site of an amphitheatre. A visit to Abbotsford House, about two miles west of Melrose, the former home of Sir Walter Scott, is a must for the literary-minded, with the library containing Scott's collection of nine thousand rare books and memorabilia relating to Nelson, Napoleon, Rob Roy and Bonnie Prince Charlie, amongst others. Many interesting old weapons are displayed in the armoury.
About four miles from Melrose is Dryburgh Abbey, which is located in beautiful countryside near the pretty village of St. Boswells. Visitors should then stop at Scott's View further north on the B6356 which offers amazing views overlooking the Eildon Hills and the Leader River.
Activities and Events
Melrose is a good centre for walkers, offering leisurely walks along the River Tweed and into the village of Gattonside and more energetic walks, such as sections of the St. Cuthbert's Way which commences at Melrose and ends at Lindisfarne on Holy Island on the east coast, some 60 miles distant. The Southern Uplands Way and the Tweed Cycleway also pass through Melrose.
One strenuous walk from the centre of Melrose is up the Eildon Hills which is worth the effort for the magnificent views. On the North Hill are remains of an Iron Age fort and Roman signal station. The 9-hole Melrose Golf Course is situated on the foothills of the Eildons and there is an 18-hole course just outside Galashiels - both clubs welcome visitors. There is a swimming pool in Galashiels and tennis courts in both Galashiels and Melrose.
The most popular of the Borders Rugby Sevens is that of Melrose which takes place on the second Saturday in April attended by thousands and creates an exciting and fun atmosphere late into the night. The rugby grounds and all-weather tennis courts are located near the centre of Melrose.
The Borders Book Festival takes place in Melrose for a few days in June at which many famous authors give presentations.