Scottish Travel Itineraries: Borders

Abbotsford House. Picture: TSPL
Abbotsford House. Picture: TSPL
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The Scottish Borders are a treasure trove of fascinating historic sites and quirky country hotels. Outdoor activities, fine dining, and breathtaking scenery - the Borders provide all of this and more. We have carefully compiled a list of itineraries for those who wish to explore the Borders a bit further.

MELROSE

The Bear Gates at the old entrance to Traquair House in Traquair near Innerleithen. Picture: TSPL

The Bear Gates at the old entrance to Traquair House in Traquair near Innerleithen. Picture: TSPL

A small town in the Tweed valley, Melrose is an excellent choice for a weekend getaway. The historic abbey is the main attraction, an impressive ruin with a fascinating past. Scottish kings and nobles are buried here, and in 1921 a lead box believed to contain heart of Robert the Bruce was discovered there. Having been established in 1136, is has been on this site for almost nine hundred years.

If you would like to delve even further into the past, the Three Hills Roman Heritage Centre is a great place to visit. Within three minutes’ walk of the abbey, the centre is named after the three hills above the town. There are all kinds of intriguing artefacts on display, including two Roman hoards side by side. There are also guided tours of medieval Melrose to help you learn more about the town’s history.

For dinner in Melrose, the nearby Marmion’s Brasserie is the proud recipient of a Best Newcomer Award from the Scottish Borders Eating Out Awards. Scottish produce is cooked to perfection using innovative recipes and traditional cooking techniques. You can sample some delicious Loch Awe sea trout, a braised shin of Scotch beef, or a free range roast chicken pie.

To round off your day, there is no better place to rest your head than the Bay Waverley Castle Hotel.

Melrose Abbey, Melrose in the Scottish Borders.

Melrose Abbey, Melrose in the Scottish Borders.

Live evening entertainment takes place in the refurbished ballroom, and the bedrooms are furnished with luxurious four poster beds.

GALASHIELS

Book lovers will not want to miss out on a chance to visit Sir Walter Scott’s spectacular home, Abbotsford House. The picturesque location, the architecture and the exquisite furniture make this a must-see attraction. The formal gardens are a delightful place for an afternoon stroll, and the woodland estate will help you get in touch with nature.

After a day exploring Abbotsford, what could be better than a wonderful meal beside the loch? Hergé’s on the Loch is just a twenty minute walk from Abbotsford, and offers a tranquil place to enjoy an evening meal. Perhaps you will try the Ayrshire pork belly, or the Highland lamb rump?

Glentress. Picture: submitted

Glentress. Picture: submitted

A fifteen minute bus ride will take you to Kingsknowes Hotel by the River Tweed. This baronial mansion was built in the 19th century, and is now the epitome of elegance and comfort. The bedrooms have lovely views of the countryside, and are furnished in a charming, traditional style.

ST ABBS

This pretty little fishing village is a brilliant place for nature-lovers. The National Nature Reserve has one of Britain’s most accessible bird colonies, which is home to over 30,000 guillemots, 3,600 kittiwakes, and 1,800 razorbills. The reserve rangers, who are experts in the local flora and fauna, offer guided tours of the reserve, so you can learn all about the magnificent wildlife. Coldingham Bay is another gorgeous spot, where you can enjoy a picnic, a stroll or a paddle. If you are very lucky, you may spot a dolphin in the waves.

Marshall Meadows Country House Hotel is only 20 minutes’ drive from the nature reserve, and is just over the border between Scotland and England. This Georgian house is set in 15 acres of gardens and pastures, including a kitchen garden and a labyrinth. The bedrooms are light, airy and spacious, all with TV and WiFi.

For a taste of local seafood, take a short drive to The Ship at Eyemouth, where the fish is smoked on site. The fish and chips here are a cut above, as are the beautifully presented meat dishes.

GLENTRESS

Outdoors types will be in heaven at Glentress. 7Stanes offers world-class mountain biking from their centre, with trails to suits beginners, families and expert bikers. Their trails have won awards, and attracted people to visit from all over the country.

For a more leisurely outdoor pursuit, take a short drive and try the Cardrona Championship Golf Course, which was designed by former Ryder Cup player, Dave Thomas, in 2001. The Par 72 parkland and woodland course is both a beautiful and a challenging course, which will delight novices and old hands alike.

The Macdonald Cardrona Hotel is not only home to the golf course, but also a spa sanctuary. There are a number of spa facilities on offer, with packages including the best treatments, cream teas and a cheeky prosecco.

The restaurant at the hotel is well worth a visit, as it offers both panoramic views of the hills and delectable Scottish dishes. The restaurant has been awarded an AA rosette, so you can be assured of its quality. The restaurant’s suppliers provide local, organic produce, ensuring the finest ingredients for their carefully cooked meals.

TRAQUAIR

A visit to Traquair House will be a day out to remember. This stately home used to be a hunting lodge for Scottish monarchs and later became a refuge for Catholic priests. Mary Queen of Scots herself visited the house in 1566. Visitors can take a tour of the beautifully furnished house, explore the ancient woodlands, and investigate the huge maze in the grounds.

For a hearty lunch or dinner, a short drive or bus ride will take you to the Horseshoe Inn in Peebles, which has two AA rosettes to its name. You can try an elaborate tasting menu, or some refined dishes from the à la carte menu, such as duck breast, hake, or artichoke risotto.

Cringletie House Hotel is ten minutes by bus from the Inn, and a fabulous place to spend the night. Each room has an individual personality, whether it be a romantic turret room, or a room with a charming feature fireplace. The rooms have excellent views of the grounds and gardens, which span over 28 acres.

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