I’ve been spending a lot of time in Scotland lately. I’ve alluded to it here and there, but today I want to come clean. I’ve fallen in love, you see, and the man in question has a house in the Scottish Borders. We’re up there a lot, and in the past year I’ve discovered a part of the UK I never knew about. And it’s pretty amazing. If you want to know why, here are 5 days out in the Scottish Borders that will show you.
Days Out in the Scottish Borders
One of the best things about the Scottish Borders is that the region is under the radar as far as travel destinations go. Despite being just south of Edinburgh, there are fewer crowds and more opportunities to experience a land full of fairytale castles, breathtaking coastline, and storybook villages.
Whether I’m exploring the ruins of an abbey or wading through heather at dawn to watch the sunrise over the moors, this part of Scotland reveals its magic everywhere I go.
The best days out in the Scottish Borders are:
1. Melrose Abbey
2. Abbotsford House
4. St Abbs
5. Traquair House
This is particularly true at Melrose Abbey. A former Cistercian monastery, what remains of the current building dates back to the 1300’s and offers a wealth of treasures to explore. The abbey was so famous in its day that Robert the Bruce chose it as the final resting place for his heart.
I recently took an audio tour of the premises, learning all about the mystical ruins and exploring the nooks and towers. Walking through architecture so old and beautiful was awe-inspiring.
Equally stunning is Abbotsford House. The former home of celebrated Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, a visit makes for another of the best days out in the Scottish Borders.
With turrets galore and a walled garden to die for, the 19th-century house is straight out of a fairytale.
Medieval halls and sumptuous libraries win me over on the inside, and grounds that extend to the River Tweed keep me active outdoors.
From formal gardens to wooded glades, Abbotsford House has as picturesque a setting as it does a structure.
As far as towns go, Kelso shows the Scottish Borders at its best. Home to another of the region’s ruined abbeys, it also has a pretty square that comes alive with delicious sights and aromas on market days. And that’s to say nothing of the colorful shops and houses that line the streets.
Kelso is also next door to Floors Castle, Scotland’s largest inhabited castle and one of the most impressive country houses in the United Kingdom. The grounds, gardens, and adjacent Roxburghe Hotel are delightful to explore, too.
When it comes to coastline, one of the best days out in the Scottish Borders is St Abbs.
The fishing village of the same name is charming, but the real treat is walking along the coastal path to St Abb’s Head.
A nature reserve with wild rock formations and rugged shoreline, it shows off Scotland’s beauty from the wildlife to the lighthouse.
Traquair House is the oldest continually inhabited house in Scotland. A cross between a castle and a fortified mansion, this impressive home is a great place to dive into Scotland’s legendary past.
Dating back to 1107, Traquair House was initially a royal hunting lodge. Later the Stuarts of Traquair supported Mary Queen of Scots, who stayed in the house in 1566. The interiors are a delight—I want to take the library home with me—and the grounds are brimming with gardens (and an impressive hedge maze!).
These 5 highlights are just a handful of places I’ve come to love in this undiscovered region of Britain. There are more castles, towns, paths, and ruins to explore, and and I can’t wait to keep uncovering the best of the Borders.
Have you been to this part of the UK? What are your favorite days out in the Scottish Borders?