Explore for a Day
Itinerary 3 - Scott's Country
Itinerary 3 - Scott’s Country
Today’s route follows country roads through the Eildon and Leaderfoot National Scenic Area. Dominated by the dramatic landscape of the volcanic Eildon Hills, it’s an area of romance and legend, of historic buildings and breathtaking scenery.
Begin at a former Border stronghold and climb to the battlements for fine views over the surrounding countryside. Admire the three Eildon peaks from a world-renowned viewpoint and be astounded by a gigantic statue. Enjoy the peaceful serenity of a beautiful riverside monastery, then take a leisurely stroll along the banks of the mighty Tweed. If time, there’s chance for an energetic hill-walk before completing your day at historic Melrose.
Smailholm Tower (10)
Smailholm Tower is well signposted either from the village of Smailholm, or from the B6404, 4 miles/6.4 km northeast of St Boswells. A minor road leads you through a working farm and along a track past an old millpond to the parking area at the foot of the tower. From here you have a choice of steep or less steep grassy paths for the final hundred yards.
Scott’s View & Wallace’s Statue (11)
Drive back down through the farm and keep left towards Smailholm village. At the T-junction, turn left and continue for 3.7 miles/5.9 km until you reach the junction with the B6356. Turn left here following signs for Scott’s View which is 1.5 miles/2.4 km from the junction. From this viewpoint continue south on the B6356 for a further 1 mile/1.6 km to a small parking area on the right to see Wallace’s statue.
Dryburgh Abbey (12)
Continue south on the B6356 for a further 0.3 miles/0.5 km, then turn right at a T-junction to Dryburgh Abbey (0.5 miles/0.8 km). Follow the road round to the left at the entrance to the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel and continue to a parking area with public toilets.
From Dryburgh continue along the B6356 for 2.4 miles/3.8 km to a T-junction where you turn right onto the B6404 for the historic village of St Boswells; here you’ll find a café/bookshop and public toilets on the left. At the busy junction with the A68, turn left and then right onto the A699 Selkirk road. After2.8 miles/4.5 km turn right onto the B6359 and continue for 1.6 miles/2.6 km until you reach Bowdenmoor Reservoir. This is the place to park (roadside) if you’d like an exhilarating climb to the top of the Eildon Hills. There’s a footpath that runs along the south side of the reservoir and your efforts will be rewarded with some fine views from the summit of Mid Hill (1,385 feet/420m). Continue along the B6359 for 1.6 miles/2.6 km to reach the historic town of Melrose.
10. Smailholm Tower
Smailholm is a 15th century, roofed and floored, four-storey tower house with adjoining buildings and barmkin (courtyard) wall, all in extraordinarily good condition. Standing on a rocky outcrop, its battlements command spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. Climbing the narrow stone staircases gives you a real sense of how people used to live. The upper three floors house a permanent exhibition of costumed figures and beautiful tapestries that recall Sir Walter Scott's collections of ballads, The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, and the turbulent past of the area.
Open daily April to September, 9.30am - 5.30pm.
Grid reference: NT638346
Tel: 01573 460365
Parking, paths, information
11. Scott’s View & Wallace’s Statue
No visit to the Borders would be complete without seeing Scott’s View overlooking the Tweed valley. The sight of the Eildon Hills from Bemersyde is an iconic feature of the Borders landscape and was one of Sir Walter Scott’s favourite vistas. It’s said his horses were so used to stopping here that, when his funeral procession passed en route to his burial at Dryburgh Abbey, they stopped of their own accord to allow their master a last look at the Borders landscape.
The dramatic 31 feet/9.5 metre high sandstone statue of William “Braveheart” Wallace is well worth seeing. It’s a pleasant 5-10 minute walk along a good-surfaced path from the small parking area. Erected in 1814, the monument is reputedly the first to be raised in memory of Scotland’s famous son.
Grid references: NT594343 and NT592326
12. Dryburgh Abbey & River Tweed Walk
Dryburgh Abbey on the banks of the Tweed dates from the 12th century and has some of the best Gothic church architecture in Scotland; it also contains the grave of Sir Walter Scott. The atmosphere of peace and tranquillity makes it easy to appreciate the attractions of medieval, monastic life. Food is served daily at the nearby Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, but on a fine day it’s the perfect setting for a picnic.
For a very pleasant 30-45 minute walk, head to the entrance of the hotel, then left downhill at a sign for “Cycle Route 1”. Just before reaching the suspension bridge, look out for The Temple of the Muses on the right. Cross the bridge, turn left and follow part of St Cuthbert’s Way for a view of the abbey from the opposite riverbank. Back at the bridge, if time, ascend steps to reach a seat with a magnificent view of the Eildon Hills and the Tweed. Return by the same route.
Admission charges to abbey
Open all year
Grid reference: NT591316
Tel: 01835 822381
Parking, paths, toilets, wheelchair access, picnic area
The picturesque town of Melrose is full of unique and interesting historic properties. Take a leisurely wander around the magnificent 12th century Melrose Abbey and grounds. It has close associations with St Cuthbert and is the burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart. You’ll find historic walled gardens on each side of the abbey: Priorwood is Scotland’s only dedicated dried flower garden, and Harmony Gardens is beautiful at any time of year, but particularly so in spring and summer when the long established herbaceous borders burst into colour.
Abbey open all year; April-September daily 9.30am-5.30pm; October-March daily 9.30am-4.30pm
Priorwood Garden open 1 April – 24 December. Dried Flower Shop 5 January – 24 December;
Harmony Garden open 1 April – 31 October; Please check NTS website for detailed Garden opening hours.
Grid reference: NT548341
Tel: Abbey 01896 822562 / Priorwood and Harmony Gardens 01896 822493
Parking, toilets, wheelchair access, picnic area