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Things to do in Scottish Borders

The county now known as the Scottish Borders was formed from the previous counties of Berwickshire, Peeblesshire, Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire. This a beautiful area where sheep graze on the hillsides and the Rivers Jed, Teviot and Yarrow flow through lush green valleys to join the River Tweed.

Visitors can enjoy walking, fishing exploring gardens, stately homes, monuments and the many historic towns.

Hermitage Castle
Hermitage Castle

Newcastleton is situated at the southern tip of the county, in Liddesdale. Dykecroft Information Centre have details of the walks in the Newcastleton Forest, and the mountain biking routes at the 7stanes, in the same forest.

A few miles to the north is 14th century Hermitage Castle, a fortress which has witnessed many of the border conflicts throughout history.

Bluebell Season
Bluebell Season

Visitors to the town of Hawick shouldn't miss Drumlanrig's Tower, where audio/visual technology interprets the town's history. Hawick is known world wide as the home of Cashmere knitwear. You have the opportunity to see the manufacturing process for yourself at Hawick Cashmere Visitor Centre and the Peter Scott factory. The Hawick Museum and Gallery are worth visiting - local history and art is well represented.

Scottish Borders Tourist Information can be accessed in the Royal Burgh of Jedburgh where you can visit Jedburgh Abbey, founded by King David I in 1138.

Jedburgh Abbey
Jedburgh Abbey

In the town centre is Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre which interprets the life and times of Queen Mary who visited Jedburgh in 1566.

North of Jedburgh near the village of Ancrum, is Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre, with exhibitions, events, countryside walks and a good play park.

River Tweed
River Tweed

In the central borders, Halliwells House Selkirk, is home to an interesting museum illustrating the history of the town. Sir Walter Scott's Courtroom, in the town square, is today a museum depicting his work and the period 1804 - 1832. He sat as Sheriff of Selkirk during these years.

Three miles west of Selkirk is Bowhill House and Country Park, the Scottish Borders home of the Duke of Buccleuch. Access to the house is limited, but the Country Park is open from Easter to October.


Visitors to the area should be sure to visit the town of Melrose,and in particular the atmospheric ruins of Melrose Abbey.

Melrose Abbey
Melrose Abbey

The town nestles in the valley of the River Tweed and is dominated by the borders' most distinctive landmark - the triple peaks of the Eildon Hills. These are of volcanic origin. At the summit of Eildon Hill North is the remains of the largest hillfort in Scotland. Dating from circa 10th century BC, it was built by the local Selgovae tribe.

The Eildon Hills from Gattonside
The Eildon Hills from Gattonside

When the Romans arrived in the Borders in the late 1st century A.D. they built a watchtower on the site and surrounded it with a shallow ditch which can still be seen. Today you can follow a way marked walk from Melrose to the Eildon Hills. You can learn more at the Three Hills Roman Heritage Centre at The Ormiston in Market Square.

River Tweed
River Tweed

Walkers can join the Southern Upland Way at Melrose, as it wends its way to Cockburnspath on the east coast. Attractions for gardeners in the town include Priorwood Gardens and Harmony Garden, both in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.

A short drive south east of Melrose are the medieval remains of Dryburgh Abbey, final resting place of Sir Walter Scott. One mile west of Melrose is Abbotsford House, Sir Walter's home, which is open to the public.


Galashiels, in the central Borders, is a busy town and popular shopping centre for the surrounding area. Galashiels has long been associated with the textile industry. The new Border's Railway has two stations in Galashiels, one in the centre of the town and the other at the end of the line in Tweedbank.

Braw Lads
Braw Lads' Day in Galashiels

Each summer there is the traditional Braw Lad's festival, where the Braw Lad and Braw Lass (with attendants) ride on horse back in many ceremonies around the area to keep the town safe from the marauding English!

Braw Lads!
Braw Lads!

Innerleithen lies between Galashiels and Peebles, another of the borders textile towns. Innerleithen came to fame in the 17th and 18th centuries when visitors 'taking the waters' came to the Sulphurous spring, St Ronan's Wells. Its best known visitor was Sir Walter Scott who based his novel St. Ronan's Well here.

The reknowned mountain biking centre of Glentress lies between Innerleithen and Peebles, and affords some of the best views of the Borders!

View from Glentress
View from Glentress

Nearby Traquair House dates back to 1107 and was originally a hunting lodge for the Kings of Scotland. A visit offers a fascinating day for all the family.

In the west of the county you'll find Peebles, a delightful town with lovely walks along the banks of the River Tweed.


Attractions near Peebles include medieval Neidpath Castle, whose Great Hall contains Batiks depicting the Life of Mary Queen of Scots.

South of the town is Dawyck Botanic Garden, with wonderful trees, shrubs and borders.

In the west of the county are the beautiful Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys, once the hunting ground of Scotland's Kings. Steeped in history, myth and legend they have been written about by Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg the Ettrick poet. Today the area offers opportunities for sailing, fishing, cycling, walking and hill climbing. The Yarrow Valley runs from St. Mary's Loch, in the heart of the Southern Scottish Uplands, to the outskirts of Selkirk at Philiphaugh. The Ettrick Valley runs from Potburn to the eastern edge of Selkirk.

Leaderfoot Viaduct
Leaderfoot Viaduct

Visitors to the area may also want to visit Kelso, a historic town at the confluence of the Rivers Teviot and Tweed. Kelso Abbey was founded in 1128 and was the greatest of the border abbeys. Even today the ruins are worth seeing.

Floors Castle and Gardens is home to the Duke and Duchess of Roxburgh. It's a treasure house of furniture, tapestries, porcelain and art works. The gardens are a delight not to be missed.

Go Ape at Glentress
Go Ape at Glentress

A few miles west of Kelso is Smailholm Tower, a well preserved 15th century tower which inspired Sir Walter Scott's "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders". Near the village of Gordon is Mellerstain, one of Scotland's great Georgian houses, designed by the Adam family.

Coldstream on the River Tweed lies on the Scottish/English border. The town is the birthplace of the Coldstream Guards, raised in 1650 by General Monk to serve in Cromwell's New Model Army.

The local museum tells the story of the Regiment and the town.

Nearby is Hirsel Country Park with woodland, river and lakeside walks.

Eyemouth, on the east coast of the county, has clean sandy beaches and a busy harbour and is an unspoiled holiday destination.

The tourist information centre is housed in the Auld Kirk, also home to Eyemouth museum.

Coldingham Bay
Coldingham Bay

The coastline, with villages of St. Abbs, Coldingham and Burnmouth, provides a fascinating and beautiful range of scenery from high cliffs and deep clear water to sandy coves and quaint fishing harbours.

These offer recreational pursuits such as bird watching, walking, fishing and diving.

Rallying in the Border
Rallying in the Border's Forests

Days out in Scottish Borders

  • Abbotsford House
    Abbotsford is the house built and lived in by Sir Walter Scott, the 19th century novelist, and author of timeless classics such as Waverley, Rob Roy, Ivanhoe and The Lady of the Lake.
    Abbotsford House
  • Ayton Castle
    Ayton Castle's imposing silhouette is often glimpsed by passengers on express trains speeding north from Berwick-upon-Tweed towards Edinburgh. Its mighty tower, bartisans and crowstepped gables look satisfying foreign to the English visitor.
    Ayton Castle
  • Bowhill House & Country Estate
    The Scottish Borders home of the Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry KT, is in the centre of an extensive estate of hills and valleys where history and landscape combine to provide a unique experience.
    Bowhill House & Country Estate
  • Dawyck Botanic Garden
    Discover Dawyck's secrets as you explore its woodlands in the stunning surroundings of the Scottish Borders. Over 300 years of tree planting has created one of the world's finest arboreta.
    Dawyck Botanic Garden
  • Dryburgh Abbey
    Both beautifully situated and of intrinsic quality, the ruins of the Premonstratensian abbey at Dryburgh are remarkably complete.
    Dryburgh Abbey
  • Floors Castle
    The largest inhabited house in Scotland, home to the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe and set in the heart of the Scottish Borders Countryside.
    Floors Castle
  • Harmony Garden
    A delightfully tranquil walled garden comprising lawns, herbaceous and mixed borders, vegetable and fruit areas, and a rich display of spring bulbs.
    Harmony Garden
  • Hawick Museum and Gallery
    Situated in the award winning Wilton Lodge Park, Hawick Museum and Gallery has a lively programme of art and museum exhibitions throughout the year.
    Hawick Museum and Gallery
  • Jedburgh Abbey
    Jedburgh Abbey is one of the border abbeys founded by David I around 1138 for Augustinian canons.
    Jedburgh Abbey
  • Kelso Racecourse
    Horse racing at Kelso offers the unique charm of a bygone era, coupled with the very best in modern facilities.
    Kelso Racecourse
  • Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre
    This impressive 16th century house, set in a garden of pear trees, interprets the tragic life and times of Mary Queen of Scots.
    Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre
  • Mellerstain
    Mellerstain, one of Scotland's great Georgian houses was begun in 1725 by William Adam and completed several years later by his famous son, Robert.
  • Melrose Abbey
    Melrose Abbey is probably the most famous ruin in Scotland. It was founded by David I around 1136 as a Cistercian abbey, but largely destroyed by Richard II's English army in 1385.
    Melrose Abbey
  • Neidpath Castle
    An authentic 14th century castle converted to a tower house (17th century), the erstwhile home of Fraser, Hay and Douglas families, set in a wooded gorge of the River Tweed.
  • Priorwood Gardens
    Priorwood is a specialist garden where the plants grown are selected for their suitability for drying.
    Priorwood Gardens
  • Robert Smail's Printing Works
    Step back in time at this completely restored printing works and see how printing was done at the beginning of the 20th Century.
    Robert Smail's Printing Works
  • Smailholm Tower
    Sited high on a rocky outcrop, Smailholm is a small rectangular tower set within a stone barmkin wall.
    Smailholm Tower
  • St Abb's Head National Nature Reserve
    The sheer 300ft high cliffs between farmland and the North Sea are pounded by the sea below, but higher up are home to colonies of guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, shags, fulmars, puffins and herring gulls.
    St Abb's Head National Nature Reserve
  • Thirlestane Castle
    Thirlestane, one of the oldest and finest castles in Scotland is set in lovely Border hills at Lauder, 28 miles south of Edinburgh and 68 miles north of Newcastle, on the A68.
    Thirlestane Castle
  • Traquair House
    Visit romantic Traquair where Alexander I signed a charter over 800 years ago and where the 'modern wings' were completed in 1680.
    Traquair House

Places to Visit in Scottish Borders

  • Chirnside
    A honey coloured headstone set at a grassy road junction says simply;
  • Coldstream
    Coldstream is a small town situated on the river tweed, which forms the natural boundary between Scotland and England. Once a rival to Gretna for runaway marriages, the town is best known as the birthplace of the Coldstream Guards.
  • Duns
    Duns, the former county town with its spacious Market Square retains the air of an old Scottish burgh. Each year in July Duns holds its Summer Festival, when the Reiver leads the town on the
  • Eyemouth
    The historic town of Eyemouth lies five miles north of the border where the mouth of the River Eye provides a natural harbour and sandy beaches.
  • Galashiels
    Galashiels, known locally as Gala, is a town of about 12,000 people, with a strong history in the textile industry. There is lots to do in and around Galashiels, making it a great base for visitors wanting to explore the beautiful Scottish Borders.
  • Gordon
    We have just received a description of Gordon from one of our readers. This description is currently being prepared for publication and will appear on this page within the next few days.
  • Hawick
    Hawick is the largest town in the Scottish Borders, and is famous throughout the world for its high quality knitwear, which is exported across the globe.
  • Innerleithen
    Innerleithen lies surrounded by the scenic hills and forest of the Tweed Valley. The town was famed as a spa in the 19th century for the mineral spring of Doo's Well.
  • Jedburgh
    The Historic Royal Burgh of Jedburgh, once a residence of Scottish kings, lies 10 miles north of the border with England. Winner of the country town prize in Beautiful Scotland in Bloom.
  • Kelso
    The picturesque town of Kelso, lies in a fine setting at the junction of the Rivers Tweed and Teviot. Described by Sir Walter Scott as the most beautiful, if not the most romantic village in Scotland.
  • Lauder
    Lauder is set 600 feet above sea level, and is the main town in Lauderdale, bounded on three sides by the Lammermuir Hills. The town preserves its original medieval form with a single main street widening into the Market Place.
  • Melrose
    The triple peaks of the Eildon Hills are the most distinctive single landmark in the Borders. At their feet in the valley of the River Tweed lies Melrose, the birthplace of the game of rugby sevens.
  • Newcastleton
    The planned village of Newcastleton was founded in 1793 by the Duke of Buccleuch as a handloom weaving centre. Situated close to the Border, alongside Liddel Water, in earlier times this was Border Reiver country, known as 'The Debatable Land'.
  • Peebles
    The local motto 'Peebles for Pleasure' is certainly true for the many anglers, golfers and mountain bikers who visit to take advantage of the area's superb sporting facilities.
  • Selkirk
    The Ancient and Royal Burgh of Selkirk stands high above the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys. The town's industrial background is reflected in the number of specialist tweed outlets.
  • Walkerburn
    If you are looking for a haven of peace and tranquility then Walkerburn is the place for you, Walkerburn is a Village set in the stunning scenery of the tweed valley, and sits on the banks of the River Tweed.

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