In my next installment of ‘A Day Trip to…’ series, Mr Bug and I headed south out of the city to experience the best of the Scottish Borders with Rabbies Tours.
It was an early start to get the Borders Railway line down to Galashiels where we met Heather, our Rabbies guide. After giving us a brief overview of the day we set off driving through the beautiful Borders scenery.
It was quite a small group, which made us quite nimble meaning we had lots of time to stop, take in the scenery and take plenty of snaps!
The Leaderfoot Viaduct
Our first stop was just a five- minute drive from the Galashiels Railway Station. The Leaderfoot Viaduct is a disused railway (the current Borders Railway uses a more modern line) that goes over the river Tweed.
It is near the Roman settlement Trimontium, which was occupied roughly from the year 80 to 211. Of course this viaduct wasn’t built until several hundred years later and was opened in 1863, remaining in service until 1965.
We drove for another ten minutes or so for arguably the most beautiful stop on our tour – Scott’s View, named so because it was apparently Sir Walter Scott’s favourite vista in the Borders. The famous writer would often ride his horse to this spot, always stopping to admire the view.
As we took in the gorgeous scenery our guide told us a heartwarming tale: Sir Walter Scott died in 1832 and as part of the funeral ceremony his coffin and a parade of horses (including his own) slowly marched along the road past the viewpoint as part of the writer’s final journey. When the familiar scenery came into view, it is said that his horse stopped, as he had always done with his master, to take in the view one last time.
The Wallace Monument
No, not that Wallace Monument.
This Wallace Monument actually precedes its more iconic counterpart in Stirling by some 55 years, having been erected back in 1814. The chap who commissioned it, David Stuart Erskine the 11th Earl of Buchan, was apparently an eccentric and vain man obsessed with greek mythology, and this is certainly reflected in the style of the statue, with Wallace sporting a lovely curly beard and a costume that would have actually not existed until a long time after his death.
Despite this, it’s a quirky statue that was quite fun to see and well worth a visit!
We covered a lot of ground in the morning, so when we stopped off in Kelso we paused for a bit longer to give us a proper chance to explore and have a bit of lunch.
We started our visit in Kelso with a stroll along along the River Tweed, where we caught a glimpse of Floors Castle, before making our way into the city centre.
We spent a wee while exploring Kelso Abbey, which is a ruin set in some beautiful parkland. Established in the 12th century and abandoned in the 16th, this abbey has been out of commission for a while, but it was interesting looking at all the little details that still remained. Best of all, it was free to enter and look around.
After looking around the abbey we settled in the town square for a little spot of lunch. As it was a Sunday, a lot of the shops were shut but there were lots of pubs and restaurants open if you fancied dining somewhere in town. It was a dry day and relatively mild, so we decided to enjoy our packed lunch in the shadow of Kelso’s ornate town hall.
Before we had to set off again, we quickly paid a visit to Roxburgh Street which had a mysterious horsehoe embedded in one of the cobbles. The story goes that the horseshoe belonged to the horse of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and it fell off as the Prince was trying to flee the country. Is it true? I’m not sure, but it certainly is a lot of fun to imagine that it could be!
After Kelso we moved on to Jedburgh, which was so full of fun things to see and do I really want to go back and explore even more!
Jedburgh Castle Jail and Museum
Jedburgh Jail – which, by the way, is far too pretty to be a jail in my honest opinion – is perched on top of a hill in the centre of town. The jail itself is only half of its appeal, it also houses a fascinating museum that explores many facets of Borders life, from scientific and literary innovations to pop culture.
Special mention must be given to the “prisoners” that inhabit the jail. When the first one caught my eye, I nearly jumped out of my skin!
These life-sized plastic models have probably seen better days to be fair, but still – they have put me off a life of crime for life.
The Jedburgh Jail and Museum is a lot of fun, and once again it’s absolutely free to enter. Bonus.
We walked through the town and made our way to Jedburgh Abbey, but even the beautiful houses on the streets of this attractive town were an attraction in themselves.
Maybe once I am older and have lots of money… I can dream, eh?! 😉
Jedburgh Abbey was the only paid attraction on our tour, with a £5.50 entry fee (although we did get 10% discount because we travelled with Rabbies), but when you see the scale of this place you understand why.
Jedburgh Abbey is, by all intents and purposes, a ruin – but it is one of the most awe-inspiring ruins I have ever seen. The entry price included an audio guide, and it was an absolute delight to explore this historic site as we listened to its fascinating story.
As much as I wanted to spend more time in Jedburgh, we unfortunately had to move on to our last stop of the day.
Born in the Borders
An absolute must for foodies who are passing through the Borders, I was really excited to pay a visit to Born in the Borders. This intriguing visitors centre near Jedburgh celebrates the vibrant and delicious local food and drink.
The complex houses a craft beer brewery, a shop, a cafe and some beautiful scenery to explore. Rumour has it there is going to be a gin distillery opening up there too, so I will definitely need to return to give that a try!
With local beers, confectionery, jams, chutneys and so much more, this is the ideal place to stock up on foodie gifts. Before we left, Mr Bug popped into the shop to get a wee bag of chocolate for the journey home, but they were so good that they didn’t even survive back to the train station!
After a jam-packed day, Heather drove us back to Galashiels station in plenty of time to catch our train back to Edinburgh. We arrived back at Waverley station around 5.30, making the Best of the Borders tour a perfect day trip.
Many thanks to Rabbies Tours for inviting me along to explore the Borders. Mr Bug and I went on the Best of the Scottish Borders tour, which departs from Galashiels several times a week (the train ticket from Edinburgh to Galashiels is included in the tour price).