The Scottish Borders From £70 per person
The Highlands conjure a sense of awe and wonder which captures the imagination of many travellers to Scotland. Ironically, the man who more than any other shared the icon of the kilted adonis with the world came not from a great Highland clan, but from one of the greatest of Lowland families, Sir Walter Scott. The story of the Highlands seems romantic, but in truth the most turbulent stories in Scotland’s long history were played out in the disputed lands where Scotland and England meet — in the Borders.
Today’s tour is relaxed, but crams in a huge amount and the views are spectacular. We begin with a sedate run out to Peebles, a beautiful town with some great shops perfect for picking up one or two souvenirs away from the worst of Edinburgh’s tacky bustle.
Abbotsford is a fairytale played out in masonry, with arguably the finest private library in Scotland. Sir Walter’s tastes were so extravagant that, in spite of inherited wealth, salaries as an advocate and a sheriff (lawyer and judge), and in spite even of his unassailable popularity as the author of his day, he found himself bankrupt. Unbowed, he resolved to write himself back into solubility, and he succeeded. Not within his lifetime, but he succeeded nonetheless.
King Robert the Bruce’s heart had a long journey to make before finally finding its resting place in Melrose Abbey, probably the most complete of the great Border Abbeys, which also include Kelso, Dryburgh and Jedburgh. Abbeys were the economic centres for entire rural communities, providing work and sustenance to many hundreds, even though the brethren of the orders were relatively small in numbers.
After lunch in town we’ll head for Scott’s View, one of the most spectacular vistas you could ever hope to see. We’ll also pay our respects to a huge monument to Scotland’s greatest warrior hero, Sir William Wallace. Intriguingly this massive monument was lost to mankind for around eighty years, no-one apparently remembering where it was. This will seem impossible to comprehend once you see the scale of it.
The Maitlands have been at home at Thirlestane since the reign of Alexander III of Scots. Their home is a glorious confusion of Burgundian, Scots baronial and Dutch styles, bespeaking of its continued and continuing development as a practical family home over a period well in excess of 400 years.
Rounding the day off in the best way imaginable, we stop in at Pencaitland and the renowned Glenkinchie distillery. An enlightening tour is rounded off perfectly with generous drams of the amber creature. An approachable malt, Glenkinchie is a whisky with sufficient character to delight connoisseurs, yet pleasant enough for the complete beginner.
- Picture-perfect Peebles
- Home of the Wizard – Abbotsford
- Romantic Melrose Abbey
- Scott's View and Wallace Monument
- Glenkinchie Distillery