Castles, fortresses, abbeys - Scotland has them all. But with over 5,000 years of history at your finger tips it can be hard to know where to go! One of the best ways to enjoy Scotland is to explore it on a regional basis, such as the Borders. This area is rich in abbeys and castles - a legacy of the region's turbulent history as the battleground for invaders. A drive through the Borders allows you to visit such places as the 12th century abbeys at Jedburgh, Dryburgh and Melrose (which is said to be the resting place of Robert the Bruce's heart).
The abbeys demonstrate impressive ecclesiastical architecture and are a haunting reminder of the importance of these buildings and the people who lived in them. Highlights include the beautiful cloister and herb garden at Jedburgh and at Melrose intriguing sculptures high up on the walls, including demons and hobgoblins and a bagpipe-playing pig! The region is also home to a number of hidden gems, including Smailholm Tower, the ancestral home of Sir Walter Scott, Scotland's famous 19th century author. There is an exhibition relating to Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders which is well worth a visit. Sir Walter Scott is buried in Dryburgh Abbey.
You can buy a great-value Explorer Pass which gives access to up to 78 Historic Scotland properties over a three- or seven-day period, so you cannot only visit all the attractions in the Scottish Borders above, but also all other Historic Scotland sites across the whole country, including Edinburgh Castle and the Renaissance palace at Stirling Castle. The Palace has recently been restored to its 16th century glory and costumed performers will introduce you to court life at the time of Mary Queen of Scots, definitely one to include in your tour around Scotland.
District Visitor Services Manager