Area focus: Historic and idyllic Melrose

The Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival is underway at the historic former home of author Sir Walter Scott, Abbotsford House, near Melrose.

Melrose  - small town  in the Scottish Borders, Scotland, United Kingdom
Melrose - small town in the Scottish Borders, Scotland, United Kingdom

The festival’s packed programme includes the appearance of many literary figures, with journalist Alistair Moffat, historian Norman Davies and author and performer Michael Palin giving talks today.

This year’s event also marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott, famed for creating the modern historical novel.

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His 19th-Century mansion is just a short drive from the scenic centre of Melrose, which is plausibly the quintessential Scottish town.

History buffs will know it well, being where Robert the Bruce’s heart is interred, and home to the first Cistercian abbey in the country.

Situated south of the River Tweed at the foot of the rolling Eildon Hills, Melrose Abbey was founded in 1136 by decree of King David I of Scotland and, although now partly ruined, it is still a breathtaking sight.

However, the area is understood to have been inhabited since Roman times and, following the abbey’s construction, further buildings were created and the town as it stands today began to grow.

In the 12th Century, the monastery had 100 monks but, due to the town’s position on the main road from Edinburgh to the south – and being just some 20 miles away from the Border – Melrose was vulnerable to attacks.

In 1322, King Edward II of England sent his troops to destroy both the town and its abbey, which was subsequently rebuilt under the instruction of Robert the Bruce. And while his body was buried in Dunfermline, a casket uncovered at Melrose Abbey in 1996 was later confirmed to be the receptacle for the King’s heart.

In the 1880s, Melrose was put on the sporting map as the home of rugby sevens, created by two butchers in the town. Rugby enthusiasts will also know the town as being the birthplace of Scotland rugby union hero Stuart Hogg.

Today, the ancient town is brimming with gorgeous red sandstone buildings surrounded by the picturesque Scottish Borders countryside. A peaceful setting indeed – Melrose has been named as one of the UK’s most tranquil spots.

In a time where more homebuyers are looking to more rural settings, it makes sense that house prices in Melrose have gone up in value by more than 3 per cent over the last12 months, as reported by Zoopla.

A property in the town now will cost £273,950, on average.

High Cross Avenue, east of the town’s centre, is a highly sought-after address, with properties priced on average £506,256.

The thoroughfare features a number of beautifully presented large Victorian villas which were built in the late-1800s. It is also the main road out towards the village of Tweedbank, a few minute’s drive from Melrose, where there is a train station linking to Edinburgh.

North west of the town is Wierhill Place, home to a selection of detached C-listed Georgian villas and terraced houses. A home on this attractive street has an average price tag of £352,911.

In the south is Newlyn Road, which has grand sandstone buildings with large bay windows, and views across the town. However, many of these are now flats but, due to their position and size, homebuyers should expect to spend around £396,319 for one.

Melrose is ideally placed for commuters travelling into Edinburgh, which is just over an hour away by car on the A68. There are regular and direct train services throughout the day, which take about an hour to get into the Capital from the aforementioned Tweedbank station.

For those with children, there is a primary school in the town and secondary education is provided at Earlston High School, nearly seven miles north of Melrose.

For homebuyers seeking a small town with historic charm, rugby connections, and access to the great Borders countryside, Melrose is just about unmissable on your list of pretty places to investigate.

Average market value of a property in the area (Source: Zoopla)

Detached £413,147

Semi-detached £217,341

Terrace £220,291

Flat £178,481