The Scottish Borders is the main gateway to Scotland from the south. It’s a magnificent introduction to the country and a superb holiday destination at any time of year. The region encompasses rolling hills and moorland in the west, through gentle valleys and the fertile agricultural plains of the east, and on to the rocky Berwickshire coastline with its secluded coves and picturesque fishing villages.
The natural beauty of the Borders contrasts with its exciting and often bloody past. This is a land which still echoes to the clash of steel between Scots and English armies, rival clansmen and the cattle raiding Reivers. Each major town here still celebrates its turbulent history in the spectacle of the Common Ridings, when locals in period costume ride out to patrol the burgh boundaries.
Top Events in the Scottish Borders in 2020
- Hawick Reivers Festival (27 - 29 March 2020) - re-enactments showing what life was like in the mid 16th century.
- Galashiels Walking Weekend (24 - 26 April 2020)
- Traquair Medieval Fayre (23 - 24 May 2020) - Scotland’s only authentic Medieval Fayre featuring jousting and jesters in the grounds of Scotland’s oldest inhabited house, Traquair House
- TweedLove Bike Festival in Peebles (29 - 31 May 2020) with big celebrations for the festival's 10th anniversary.
- Peebles March Riding & Beltane Queen Festival (tbc June 2020) - spectacular week-long festival
- Melrose Festival (tbc June 2020) - a week to commemorate the town‘s history
- Borders Book Festival (11 - 14 June 2020) at Melrose
- Jedburgh Border Games (tbc 11 July 2020)
- St Ronan's Border Games (11 - 18 July 2020) and Cleikum Ceremonies week at Innerleithen
- Border Union Show (24 - 25 July 2020) annual agricultural show and equestrian event at Kelso
- Morebattle Highland Games (8 August 2020) at Kelso
- Beyond Borders International Festival (29 - 30 August 2020) at Innerleithen
- Peebles Highland Games (5 September 2020)
- Scottish Borders Walking Festival (5 - 12 September 2020) around Jedburgh
- Borders Heritage Festival (tbc September 2020)
At the heart of the area is the scenic Tweed Valley, famous for its four great medieval abbeys at Kelso, Jedburgh, Dryburgh and Melrose. All these impressive ruins are in striking natural settings. There’s a generous endowment of historic properties, including Floors Castle, home of the Duke of Roxburghe, and Scotland’s largest inhabited castle. Visit other grand stately homes like Manderston, Mellerstain and Paxton, all with fine gardens. Close to the attractive town of Melrose is Abbotsford, the 19th century home of Sir Walter Scott. This literary icon drew inspiration for many of his popular novels from the romantic tales and legends of the Borders.
H.M. The Queen opened The Borders Railway in September 2015 and this line re-connects Edinburgh with Galashiels and Tweedbank (ideal for visiting Abbotsford). This is certain to become one of the great scenic railway journeys in Scotland.
Peebles sits at the western end of the Tweed Valley surrounded by typical Lowland landscape of green rounded hills. With a handsome High Street, it’s a pleasant place to linger and has fascinating Neidpath Castle on its doorstep. Near Innerleithen is lovely Traquair House, the oldest continuously inhabited house in the country. Sample a beer from its micro-brewery, first established here 400 years ago.
The landscape of the eastern Scottish Borders is one of low undulating hills, wild moorland and a short, but dramatic coastline. St. Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve has sea birds and marine life in abundance as well as sheer 300 feet high red cliffs. The waters here also offer some of the best diving and surfing conditions on the east coast.
Getting active is easy in the Borders. Revel in top class salmon and trout fishing on the renowned River Tweed and its many tributaries. The area is also a mecca for cyclists of all kinds. Glentress, near Peebles, is Scotland’s biggest and most popular mountain bike centre. Experience breathtaking scenery by joining long distance cycle routes like the Borderloop or 4 Abbeys Cycleway.
There are also fantastic long distance walks crossing the Scottish Borders, such as the Southern Upland Way and St Cuthbert’s Way. Vast numbers of shorter countryside walks and Town Trails are also available. If you want a more relaxed pace, then visit the botanic gardens at Dawyck with its superb Arboretum. If you’re a club swinger, there are 21 golf courses to enjoy. Rugby Union fanatics may want to visit in spring when the famous Rugby Sevens tournament takes place in the Border towns.
The Borders is well known for the production of high quality tweeds, tartans and knitwear. Hawick and Galashiels have a number of factory outlets where you can browse and buy. Local crafts, boutiques and tasty delicacies are a joy to find. Indulge in the best of regional cuisine in the multitude of restaurants, tearooms and pubs, everything from Selkirk Bannock to succulent local lamb, beef or haggis.
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