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.
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...
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Next: New Abbey, Caerlaverock
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