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We recommend Southern Scotland for:
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Places to go and things to see;
Just like The Highlands and Western Scotland, Southern Scotland is defined by its landscapes. But while The Highlands are famed for rugged, unspoilt beauty, Southern Scotland’s lush green countryside is packed with immaculate stately grounds and impeccable gardens. You’ll also find some of Scotland’s most beautiful abbeys, while the legacy of a bloody past with the English adds a dramatic twist to this most elegant of regions.
Our hotel is located in Melrose. It’s the perfect place from which to explore the very best of Southern Scotland. You won’t even have to travel too far. You’ll find scores of memorable places to visit right on your doorstep.
The quiet town of Melrose is overlooked by the Eildon Hills. The three peaks are an enduring feature of The Borders and the north peak was once one of the largest Iron Age hill forts in Scotland. It was also used as a Roman signal station. If you fancy the challenge, there’s a footpath from Melrose right to the top of the Eildons. The views from the top are amazing, so remember to pack your camera.
Fancy something a little lighter? No problem. There are plenty of walks in Melrose, including one that follows the banks of the River Tweed. Lovely. You won’t have to walk too far before you come across Mertoun Gardens. The gardens feature rolling lawns, beautiful herbaceous borders and an immaculate three acre kitchen garden. Melrose is also home to Harmony Garden, a tranquil walled garden offering mixed borders as well as vegetable and fruit areas.
Did you know that the famous nineteenth century poet and author, Sir Walter Scott, lived in Melrose? The house he built there, and lived in for many years, Abbotsford House, is open to the public. You can take a tour around Sir Walter Scott’s study, drawing room, entrance hall, armouries and even the dining room – where he died on 21st September 1832. You’ll also see his library, which contains over 9,000 rare books. The grounds are beautiful too, featuring roses, fruit trees and an orangery as well as easygoing woodland walks.
Mellerstain House and Garden in the nearby town of Gordon is one of Scotland’s great Georgian houses and dates back to 1725. It has a superb interior and a rather special collection of paintings. From the house there is a splendid view out over the Italian-style terraced gardens to a wooded lake with the Cheviot Hills in the distance. Beautiful. Then there’s Bowhill House in Selkirk, an ancient house in magnificent grounds that features an outstanding collection of paintings, porcelain, silverware and French furniture.
Floors Castle in Kelso is grand, opulent and beautifully built. In fact, it’s often compared to something out of a fairytale. Visit and you’ll see why. Floors is home to the Duke and Duchess of Roxburgh, making it the largest inhabited castle in Scotland. The castle is open to the public and you’ll be able to wander through spectacular state rooms filled with priceless European paintings, tapestries and furnishings. The gardens overlooking the River Tweed are great too, filled with colourful rhododendrons and azaleas.
It’s hard to beat the beauty of Floors. But not impossible. Not when Thirlestane Castle is just a short journey away. Thirlestane is one of the seven Great Houses of Scotland and the ancient seat of the Earls and Duke of Lauderdale. The wonderfully ornate ceilings in the state rooms are stunning. You’ll also find fine collections of furniture, paintings and historic toys.
As well as having an abundance of special houses and castles, this part of Scotland is also home to some amazing and historically important abbeys. You can begin your discovery of them just a stone’s throw from the hotel in Melrose Abbey. It’s reputed to be one of the most famous ruins in Scotland – not least because they are the final resting place of Robert the Bruce’s heart. This Cistercian abbey was founded by David I around 1136 and used to be the most prosperous abbey in Scotland. But it was repeatedly ravaged by the English, most viciously by Richard II in 1385 and again during the ‘War of the Rough Wooing' in 1545. The surviving ruins have a stunning elegance about them.
Jedburgh Abbey is also well worth visiting. It dates back to 1138 and was used as a parish kirk up until the last century. Although roofless, the building has weathered the test of time remarkably well. And the award-winning visitor centre is perfect for learning the fascinating story of the abbey’s eventful past. But of all the abbeys in the Borders, Dryburgh Abbey in Melrose, burial place of Sir Walter Scott, is surely the most beautiful. Its twelfth century ruins are remarkably complete.
If you don’t mind travelling for an hour or so, there’s even more for you to discover in Southern Scotland. Hermitage Castle in Newcastleton is known as ‘the guardhouse of the bloodiest valley in Britain.’ It was built in the 1300s and its location on the Scottish border made it key to control of the Borders during the many battles with the English that dominate Scottish history. It is without doubt one the UK’s most imposing medieval castles. And if you fancy a day trip to Edinburgh? Go for it. The capital of bonnie Scotland is just over an hour’s drive away from Melrose.
Click on the hotels below to see their position on the map.