SIR Walter Scott’s love affair with the Scottish borders inspired the great writer to produce some of his finest work.
Fascinated with the tradition of oral storytelling in the region, he travelled across its serene landscape collecting tales from its people, eventually settling in Abbotsford.
It’s easy to see why Scott was so enamoured with the area. The sweeping landscapes in the West which give way to scenic coastline in the East are perhaps less well known than their Highland equivalents, but are no less spectacular.
If you are looking for some Borders inspiration of your own, take a look at our five favourite hotels in the Scottish Borders to get your lowland escape started.
(Stobo Castle, Stobo, Peebles EH45 8NY, 01721 725 300)
As Scotland’s only destination spa, this 19th century manor house focuses heavily on giving guests a relaxing escape in the countryside.
While its top-of-the-range room, The Cashmere Suite, is often referred to as ‘Scotland’s most opulent room,’ there’s plenty for guests to enjoy if they can’t fork out the £890-a-night fee. With over 40 treatment rooms, a 25m ozone pool and a world class gym inside, boredom is unlikely to be on anyone’s schedule.
Outside, the tranquil peace of the Japanese water gardens, studiously maintained since their installation in the castle grounds in 1905, is complemented by acres of sweeping pine forest bound to make guests feel isolated and relaxed. Tennis courts are found to the rear of the property, with the castle towers looming large in the background - leisure is the name of the game here.
Price per night: From £125
(Edinburgh Rd, Peebles EH45 8PL, 01721 725750)
Set in 28 acre grounds encompassing picturesque woodland and beautiful walled gardens, Cringletie House is ideally located just half an hour outside Edinburgh and close to world-class outdoor sports facilities.
The former baronial castle has a strict family-friendly policy - dogs are welcome too - and is able to accommodate larger parties of up to six in the Ardean Spa cottage located on the grounds.
With prices from less than £80pn, the quality of the facilities represent excellent value for money.
Just 20 minutes to the South, guests can find the world-renowned Glentress forest, one of the seven stanes mountain biking trails dotted around the borders with challenging routes for beginners and experienced cyclists alike. The River Tweed, widely regarded as one of the finest salmon fishing spots in Europe, is also nearby, while two golf courses at Cardrona and Peebles are around eight miles to the South.
Price per night: From £78
(Innerleithen EH44 6PW, 01896 830 323)
At over 900 years old, Traquair House is Scotland’s oldest inhabited property and can claim to have a regal guestbook stretching back hundreds of years.
Mary Queen of Scots stayed here in 1566 - one in a long line of monarchs and other royalty who slept in the property during its former life as a hunting lodge - with several relics of her visit including a crucifix and letters bearing her name on display to visitors.
Architecturally, the fortified-mansion building has changed little since its original construction, so rooms are large and decorated in a grand fashion that reflects the status of its former guests.
Present guests can also enjoy the on-site micro brewery which has been producing Jacobite Ale and House Ale since 1965, still using the 18th century brewing equipment used to make beer for the house.
Price per night: From £190
(Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, Newtown St Boswells, Melrose TD6 0RQ, 01835 822 261)
Named after the ruined 12th century Abbey just a stone’s throw away on the ten acre private estate, the Dryburgh offers a little slice of history with every stay.
The Abbey itself is well worth a visit. As the burial place of Sir Walter Scott and Field Marshall haig, it’s steeped in history and, despite being set ablaze on three separate occasions, still retains some astounding examples of gothic architecture.
Walk a little further beyond the ruins and guests will find themselves on the banks of the River Tweed, where grayling and trout fishing rights are included in the stay.
Inside the house, another example of a 19th century baronial property, the 38 rooms are comfortable and en-suite, with a heated indoor pool and sauna on site.
Price per night: From £67
(Newburgh, Selkirk TD7 5HS, 01750 62331)
For a truly unique stay in one of the country’s most scenic areas, sleeping out under the stars in a Mongolian yurt is about as different as it gets.
The rise of Glamping means there are a few of these yurt sites dotted around the country, but this one, offering the chance to wake up to sweeping acres of unspoiled borders countryside, is hard to beat. The site is ideally located in an area of natural beauty, close to the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall and St Mary’s Loch ensuring acres of serene tranquility.
Yurts comfortably sleep six and are fitted with a wood burning stove and gas hob, so heat and food aren’t a chore. Outside, there’s even a barbeque for the one day of Scottish summer and a fire pit for toasting marshmallows under the starry night sky.
Showers and toilets are off in a separate building, but for the beauty of the surroundings, it’s a small price to pay.
Price per night: From £132