The Scottish Borders
The Scottish Borders really is one of Scotland's undiscovered treasures. Often unjustly overlooked by visitors who pass through it on their way to the better known north & west of the country, the Borders have a great deal to offer those who do pause to investigate!
In 2015 a new railway service was brought to the Borders to link the area up with Midlothian and even Edinburgh, so it is now easier than ever to pay a visit!
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Exploring the rolling Borders Countryside
A peaceful land of green hills, forests and rivers, the Scottish Borders boasts a wild and romantic history, as its ruined abbeys, ancient keeps, castles and imposing stately homes all bear witness. Active visitors can explore the two major walking paths, the Southern Upland and St Cuthbert's Ways, that meander their way through the varied countryside or take advantage of the world class mountain biking trails at Glentress & Innerleithen.
Berwickshire has belonged to Scotland and England over the years and is now known for its stunning beaches and harbours.
A delightful county in the central Scottish Borders. Peebles, which sits on the banks of the River Tweed, is its county town.
The region is characterised by beautiful forested valleys in the west around Peebles, the barren but bracing Lammermuir Hills in the north, the flat plateau around Duns with clear views to The Cheviots, and the rugged coastline around St. Abbs. It is a diverse region in many ways: its natural heritage, its history, its visitor attractions and its range of activities from the gentle to the more energetic.
Sites of Historical Interest
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. Also worth visiting are the ruins of the Border abbeys at Melrose, Jedburgh, Dryburgh and Kelso which were founded in the 12th century (Melrose Abbey is said to contain the heart of Robert the Bruce).
Constant battles were fought over the border between England and Scotland in the 16th century. Between the 13th and 17th centuries, clan feudings were characterised by cattle-rustling and regular attacks by the Borders Reivers (outlaws) on each others' castles and keeps, the ruins of many of which are still standing. This period is commemorated by the colourful Common Ridings in many Border towns during the summer months, involving calvacades of horses led by an elected principal man and a week of various festivities.
Mary Queen of Scots spent some time in Jedburgh in the 16th century en route to visit her future husband, the Earl of Bothwell, at Hermitage Castle; her house in Jedburgh provides interesting displays and information.
A visit to Abbotsford House near Melrose, the home of Sir Walter Scott, is a must for the literary-minded. There are also many other stately homes in the Borders (all built by the Adam family), such as Floors Castle and Mellerstain House near Kelso, Manderston House near Duns and Paxton House near Eyemouth. The 15th century Traquair House in the west of the region, near Innerleithen and Peebles, is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited house in Scotland and is full of interesting features (including a priest's hiding hole).
For those seeking some exercise, the choice is abundant. The 88 mile Tweed cycleway from Biggar to Berwick-on-Tweed leads you through the peaceful and beautiful countryside close to the river but for the more energetic, the internationally famous mountain bike course at Glentress, near Peebles, provides for a varied and challenging day out.
There are many varied walks throughout the Borders. For those with stamina, try different sections of the 60 mile St. Cuthbert's Way which passes through the Borders, ending at Lindisfarne on the Holy Island off the coast of northern Northumberland. You can also select either short or long stretches of the 212 mile Southern Upland Way, which originates in Portpatrick on the west coast and passes through the Borders to Cockburnspath in the east - leaflets, available from tourist offices, indicate the duration and grade/severity of these walks. The Pennine Way ends at Kirk Yetholm and walkers' thirst can be quenched at the local inn which is full of local memorabilia, particularly about the gypsies.
There are both 9 and 18-hole golf courses throughout the Borders where visitors are made most welcome, the most famous being the Roxburgh. For a more leisurely way to spend a day, there is good fishing on the River Tweed and its tributaries. The Borders is renowned for its international Rugby Sevens and the Melrose Sevens on the second Saturday of April draws a huge crowd and creates an exciting and fun atmosphere late into the night.