Danny Yee >> Bushwalking & Travel >> Scotland + Northern England

Scotland Border Abbeys

Thursday September 11th

I was woken up by Jenny calling "coffee" - which is how she wakes Thomas up each morning. We put Haida in a taxi for the train station and the four of us were off at 10.15. We stopped briefly at Otterburn, near where a battle was fought in 1388, and at Carters Bar on the border. It was overcast, with some mist and drizzle.

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Jedburgh
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Jedburgh abbey

In Jedburgh we didn't go into the abbey ruins, but walked around them and looked at a little 19th century castle jail. And we glanced over Mary Queen of Scots' House - where she "maybe" stayed "briefly", according to the guidebook...

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Dryburgh abbey
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the Wallace monument

Dryburgh abbey is in the countryside rather than in a town - though there is a hotel next door - and is very peaceful. Sir Walter Scott's grave is here, and a bagpiper was playing. Taking a back road route afterwards, we visited the Wallace monument - where Jenny and Thomas were taken by the blackberries and Camilla thought she saw a stoat - and Scott's View.

Finding our way down into Tweed valley, we made it to Melrose for a late lunch - we were happy to find a tea room still open and serving an all day breakfast.

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Melrose abbey
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Melrose abbey
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Melrose abbey

Melrose abbey has some attractive gargoyles and other decorative stonework - we eventually found the pig playing bagpipes that's mentioned in the guidebook - and there are good views from a tower. We wandered around the town a little - the bookshop didn't have Scott's Border Tales - and went down to a chain bridge over the River Tweed.

The Border abbeys are quite similar, and visiting three of them in one day is probably overkill. Of the three I saw (we didn't visit Kelso), Melrose is the one I'd recommend if you only want to stop once: it has a nice setting, good views, and more stonework detail.

There's a fee to enter all the abbeys except Kelso. They are run by Historic Scotland; Camilla and I bought Scottish Explorer passes (7 days in 10), which turned out to be good value over the rest of our trip.

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peaceful hills
From Melrose we took a scenic route to Moffat via Yarrow Water, passing attractive lochs and stopping briefly at Grey Mare's Tail Falls. In Moffat there was no shortage of B&Bs, but we had to hunt around for one with two doubles. Dinner was fish and chips in a pub.

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