Being close to England, the Scottish Borders have been at the forefront of hundreds of battles and skirmishes. No wonder the landscape is littered with numerous historic castles and watchtowers
Be sure to ask your hosts if there are any exciting events happening at the castles in their area
Built in 1720’s this must be one of the most imposing Castles in Scotland and is still inhabited by the Roxburghe family. Wandering through the massive rooms visitors can feast their eyes on 15th Century tapestries or just stand on the spot where James II stood. Too much history to list here, a day will just enthuse you to learn more about Scotland’s exciting past. To take tea in the same castle where once Queen Victoria did has to be a thrill and surely she also experienced the superb gardens, woodland and riverside walks just like modern visitors can. A truly majestic castle overlooking the River Tweed and the Cheviot Hills and professionally presented to visitors for a great tourism experience. Open from April to October.
Thirlestane Castle - Lauder. The home of the Maitlands, The history of Thirlestane dates back to at least the 13th century, when a large Border fort was built on the site to defend the approach to Edinburgh from the south. The central part of the present Castle was completed in 1590, remodelled in the 1670s, and then again in the 1840s. Café. Admission charges apply.
Traquair is actually called a house, but it looks enough like a castle for inclusion here. Dating back to 1107, Traquair is located in Innerlethin near the town of Peebles. It is a truly fascinating place, many parts of which look like time has literally stood still. Visitors can expect access to an unusually large part of the building, including a genuine Priest Hole. The grounds include a yew maze, croquet lawn, garden cafe and a collection of small craft shops. You can even visit the Brewery which dates back to the 1700s. Open daily April – October plus weekends in November.
Just across the border from England in Newcastleton, you can find the foreboding Hermitage Castle. Being on the front line of defence in the ongoing struggles between the two countries, this castle was built solely with war in mind. It is a testament to the builder’s craft that the castle is still standing having seen more than its fair share of battles. Open in Summer Only 1 April – 30 Sep 9.30am – 5.00pm
Close to the town of Melrose you can find the magical and romantic Abbotsford, a mini castle that literally sprang from the imagination of one of Scotland’s favourite writers, Sir Walter Scott. Such was Sir Walters love for his home that he found himself in debt and forced to relinquish a share in his copyrights. The castle is stunning, with the interior filled with Sir Walters collections from Scottish history, including pieces from Robert Burns and Mary Queen of Scots. You can also see where Sir Walter penned his famous novels and walk around the beautiful walled garden and grounds. House and Garden Open 1st March – 30th November, times differ throughout the year.
B&Bs near Abbotsford – Abbotshaw House, near Langholm
A taste of what life was like for prisoners in the 1820s in the Burgh of Jedburgh. Walk through the original cell blocks of this Georgian jail – it is the finest remaining Howard reform prison in Scotland. Exhibitions will explain the life stories of some of the prisoners and why they ended up in the Jail