The Scottish Borders
To the south of Crosswoodhill, and less than an hour’s drive from here or from Edinburgh is an area of tranquil villages, weaving, textile and horse-riding traditions
and varied scenery. Peppered with castles, magnificent historic houses and great Border Abbeys the Scottish Borders can easily justify more than a one day visit.
Long ago the long hills of the Scottish Borders were the scenes of feuds and skirmishes between Scotland and England. Hence the heritage of the Border country, recounted in ballad and folk-tale, of raid and counter raid of local heroes and horsemen.
Depending on your tastes and preferences, here’s a varied selection of See & Do suggestions to capture your interest.
Stately homes. Lots of them to choose from. Near Duns the Edwardian grace of Manderston features in the world’s only silver staircase. Floors Castle by Kelso is the largest occupied house in Scotland; enjoy the short woodland and riverside walks there. Sir Walter Scott, the novelist, lived at Abbotsford and is buried in Dryburgh Abbey, Jedburgh. Thirlestane Castle by Lauder is fairytale and turreted; Traquair House near Innerleithen is the oldest inhabited house in Scotland; search for the centre of the maze in the gardens there (best not done under the influence of Traquair House traditionally home-brewed ales!). We advise that you check the opening times of some of these majestic houses; not all are open all year round.
Should you have your bikes with you, and come in summer when the longer daylight hours extend your daytime enjoyment, you could always cycle the Four Abbey Cycle Route visiting Melrose, Jedburgh, Dryburgh and Kelso, telling their own tales of Border feuds with England. Discount passes for these magnificent ruined abbeys, as well as lots more historic attractions, are available
If you are on four wheels rather than two, a few minutes drive east of Melrose will bring you to Scott’s View. Famous for its association with Sir Walter Scott, this was his favourite spot for picnics and contemplation. You can see why, with its superb panorama of the loops of the River Tweed and the distinctive triple-topped Eildon Hills. Castles, woods, towns and abbeys are strung like pearls along the River Tweed’s silver thread with an ever-changing landscape.
Much closer to Crosswoodhill, Peebles, a 40 minute drive from here, is a particularly pleasant small town with nice shops, good places to eat and wonderful gardens to visit close by. (Pictured above in the header with the church spire). Particularly fine are Dawyk Gardens, west of Peebles (Check opening times.) Open all year are privately owned Kailzie Gardens, Peebles. Ideal for a visit by the less energetic members of your party, maybe. when others prefer the adrenalin kick of racing down the mountainside at nearby Glentress Forest. This has become a mecca for mountain bikers. Also close by, the other side of Peebles, is a favourite picnic spot below Neidpath Castle. Lush meadows and rippling stream, utter contentment when the sun shines.
A visit to Peebles could easily be combined with a visit to New Lanark in Strathclyde. They are close.
Time to go west or south west from Crosswoodhill? New Lanark (pictured above in the page header) almost merits a day to itself if you are going to do it justice. Just 30 minutes’ drive from here, it is a revelation.
Not only did the River Clyde help shape the history of Glasgow but it also played its part in upstream towns and communities south of Glasgow and nowhere more so than at New Lanark, now a World Heritage site, where the river runs through a rocky wooded gorge, dramatically speeding its flow as it tumbles over waterfalls know as “linns.” Follow the fascinating tale of an enterprising mill village which used these waters to power cotton mills in a progressive and enlightened paternalistic regime within the village in its 18th and 19th century heyday. The story of the founding of this unique social experiment and the work of David Dale and Robert Owen is told on site in vast mill buildings, beautifully restored. Interactive play areas and a period classroom bring home the reality of what life was like to youngsters. There is plenty here to interest both adults and children, and new for 2007 is a sky high viewing platform for you to watch work in progress on the Roof Garden. An added bonus is the wonderful woodland walks right beside the mills, the Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve. In Spring and Autumn in particular the foliage colours are stunning.
Close to the Clyde Valley Tourist Route you’ll find the charming town of Biggar with some fine small museums and its very own puppet theatre for all ages up to adults. And if you emerge yearning to stretch your legs go and climb nearby Tinto Hill with fine views.
Closer to Glasgow is the historic hunting lodge of Chatelherault at Hamilton. The expanse of nearby Strathclyde Park woodland trails, walks and recreational facilities offers more contemporary distractions including M & D’s theme park and the new Amazonia indoor tropical forest. It could be anywhere but has a universal appeal with our younger guests. Another attraction which could be anywhere, but happens to be in Braehead is Xscape, Scotland’s newest Xtreme leisure destination.