Historic Houses and Castles

Essential visiting locations

IT never ceases to amaze me how many grand houses, keeps, towers and castles are dotted around the Borders.  It must be something to do with the fertile soil.

Some of them are gorgeous, all pomp and circumstance; others are forbidding brutes built of rough stone;  ruins open to the elements.

Two spectacular castles in this latter category are Hermitage Castle near Newcastleton and to a lesser extent Neidpath Castle near Peebles  in that it has been modernised to the extent that it now boasts electricity.  It has some beautiful batik wall hangings made by an Italian artist whose name escapes me right now..

Of the gorgeous ones, Floors Castle near Kelso is a popular destination.  This high Victorian extravaganza with views over the Tweed has extensive gardens with tearoom and plant nursery.  Kelso is also a charming Borders town.  One of my favourites though is Abbotsford near Selkirk.  Home of Sir Walter Scott and until recently run by two very elderly ladies, direct descendants of his, It has now been turned into a trust and has all the amenities one would expect of a top-notch destination such as this.

Another one of our favourites is Mellerstain House near Gordon, an exquisite stately home designed by Robert Adam in the early 18thCentury.  Here too, all the mod cons that make for a wonderful day out, are provided.  Finally, Traquair House near Innerleithen, the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland, dating back to 1017.  Mary Queen of Scots stayed her with her infant son (later King James VI) and there is a spectacular four poster to prove it.  It contains everything you would find exciting in a house of that age, including a priest’s room.  And if that weren’t enough, they also run a wonderfully eccentric bi-annual fair there.  Next one will be Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th of August 2013.  Well worth the wait!

Here is a list of others we haven’t visited ourselves, but by all accounts are popular destinations:

Ferniehurst Castle near Jedburgh
Mary Queen Of Scots House in Jedburgh
Smailholm Tower near Kelso
Thirlestane Castle near Lauder
Paxton House near Berwick-upon-Tweed
Crighton Castle near Pathhead
Aikwood Tower near Selkirk
Bowhill House & Country Park near Selkirk
Old Gala House and Scott Gallery in Galashiels