Travel: Getting back to region’s routes

Sarah Devine follows in the historic footsteps of the Reivers as she explores the Borders Abbeys Way to make the most of the area

Abbotsford - The Home of Sir Walter Scott

The 68-mile circular Borders Abbeys Way is a walking route steeped in history and includes some of the most impressive scenery and topography of the south-east of Scotland, and it is ideal for exploring the area by foot.

A brand-new guidebook, Walking the Borders Abbeys Way by Paul Boobyer, who has undertaken long-distance walks throughout the UK, Nepal, New Zealand, Canada and Chile, handily breaks up the route into six stages for those with moderate walking ability who wish to take their time.

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Combining quaint and characterful Borders towns, some stunning historic attractions and routes which are more than likely to be the same ones taken by the infamous Border Reivers, the way connects walkers to some fascinating parts of history.

Boobyer suggests starting at Tweedbank, where the Borders Railway ends, providing easy access from all around the Central Belt.

While in the area, it is well worth visiting the romantic Abbotsford House, once home to poet and author Sir Walter Scott. Guests can explore rooms including Scott’s study and his elaborate Chinese drawing room, as well as the imaginative gardens.

From Tweedbank, the Borders Abbeys Way heads to Newtown St Boswells via Melrose, a charming town home to an abbey which dates back to 1136 and is the final resting place of Robert the Bruce’s heart.

Stage two of the route connects Newtown St Boswells to the market town of Kelso.

The 12th-century abbey here is now a ruin, but as one of the best remaining examples of Romanesque architecture in Scotland, it still inspires the more aesthetically- minded visitor.

Floors Castle stands on the edge of Kelso, and was designed by Wlliam Adam for the 1st Duke of Roxburghe in 1721.

On the second weekend of May, it will host the family-friendly Floors Castle International Horse Trials, complete with dressage, show jumping and cross-country events.

Jedburgh Abbey is next along the route and perhaps the most awe-inspiring of all the Borders abbeys, combining Romanesque and early-Gothic architecture.

Established in a 16th-century house on Queen Street in Jedburgh, the Mary Queen of Scots’ Visitor Centre is dedicated to the monarch who enjoyed a stay there in 1566.

The Borders Abbeys Way ends at the historic market town of Selkirk. On Friday, 14 June, visitors can experience it in full celebration mode as the Standard Bearer fords the Ettrick Water during the common riding.

The free Scotland Starts Here app, courtesy of the Midlothian Tourism Action Group, is well worth downloading for additional walking, cycling, driving and horse riding routes. It also contains audio options, packed with myths, stories and songs from around the area.