Fun things to do in Borders

  • First glimpse of the reservoir.
    First glimpse of the reservoir.
    by nickandchris
  • Workings.
    Workings.
    by nickandchris
  • Impressive water works.
    Impressive water works.
    by nickandchris

Most Viewed Things to Do in Borders

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Hermitage Castle

    by nickandchris Updated Sep 24, 2014

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Hermitage Castle stands alone on a bleak, lonely moor in the Scottish Borders,the closest place probably being Newcastleton.However bleak it may appear, it is an impressive hulk of a semi ruin.It's name means guardhouse and it was certainly the guardian of the bloodiest valley in Britain in it's time.

    The castle was built on the site of former Liddel Castle and was built (begun in the 1360's) more for defence than residential. It is indeed a dour, sombre looking place that it is hard to imagine it offering any home comforts.

    One of it's claims to fame is the story of Mary Queen of Scots who, in 1566, rushed hell for leather to visit her lover, the 4th Earl of Boswell,who had been badly injured in battle. Mary was a married woman and couldn't possibly stay overnight with him but managed to stay a good two hours. Who knows what went on in that time??? The castle is said to be haunted by her spectre.,

    We visited one beautiful afternoon in July 2014 (having visited many years previously) only to find only the grounds open, free of charge. Still, it was a great day for wandering round the outside, taking plenty of photos and walking as far as the ruined chapel. The views through the rosebay willowherb back to the castle were very colourful and scenic.To be honest, I think the external views of the castle are more rewarding than the interior. I don't remember there being must to view on our previous visit.

    The castle is in the hands of Historic Scotland and there is an admission charge. There is a small car parking area which is difficult in a motorhome as there isn't a lot of turning space in the road.

    Sombre Hermitage Castle Looking up Chapel ruins, Hermitage Castle The colourful walk to the chapel The castle through the rosebay willowherb.
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Seacliffe Harbour

    by nickandchris Updated Sep 22, 2014

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This is an amazing place! Having read about it on the internet and it being close to where we were camped, it was a must see.

    Seacliff is an estate some four miles east of North Berwick, only accessed, by vehicle, down a private road. This costs £2 and is a coin operated barrier. The road is one way and you exit from the opposite end of the beach.The estate consists of the atmospheric remains of a once grand mansion, hardly visible through the trees now, the scant ruins of a castle, a glorious sand beach and possibly Scotland's smallest harbour.There is also a cave, above the beach.

    There are a couple of smaller parking areas but if you keep on, there is the main car park and porta cabin toilets. The path to the beach heads through the bushes here.

    The beach is stunning, soft sand and plenty of rocks for the rock pooling enthusiasts.

    Walk westwards along the beach and if it is not high tide, you'll find the harbour. This was created in 1890 by the then Laird of the estate,cut out of the rocks using a steam engine and compressed air. An amazing feat. Today, a lone fisherman still appears to use the harbour, which is only accessible at low water. You can still see the fish pond next to the harbour which was used to store any fish caught until required on the table. Fresh is best!

    The harbour is also from where the best views of nearby Tantallon Castle are to be had. On our visit, it was barely visible, looming out of the mist from it's precarious cliff top position. Looking seawards, Bass Rock offers another spectacle, almost white in appearance from guano.

    Scotland's smallest harbour? Just visible from here. Seacliff harbour Tantallon Castle from Seacliffe Lone fishing boat using the harbour.
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Family Travel
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Dirleton Castle Gardens.

    by nickandchris Updated Sep 13, 2014

    Late July, these lovely gardens are so very colourful and are a wonderful place to wander.

    The gardens were originally laid out in the 16th century but have been through many changes.

    As you enter the grounds, you are met with a riot of colour from borders separated by a lawn. This is all immaculately kept and seats are positioned at intervals so you can enjoy the colourful spectacle.

    Proceed towards the castle ruins and you pass an impressive 16thc doocot, shaped like a bee hive. This is an incredible 25 feet high and upon entering, 1000 nesting boxes for doves encompass the building,reaching from floor to roof , an amazing sight. Hard to believe that these birds were kept for culinary purposes and were an extremely popular dish.

    There is a more formal garden, again so very colourful in July, laid out in an 18th century design. Close to this is a bowling green edged by shady yew trees and benches, perfect for spectators to enjoy a match from.

    We loved the garden - a word of advice, don't rush! Enjoy at a leisurely pace.

    Colourful gardens at Dirleton Pleasant place to sit.... More formal Such colours..... Nesting boxes inside the dovecote.
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Dunbar Harbour

    by nickandchris Updated Sep 10, 2014

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Dunbar is an attractive harbour town, sitting on the mouth of the Firth of Forth. It is the birthplace of John Muir, the famour naturist and conservationist.

    The town has claim to three harbours, the oldest dating from 1710. The harbours are continually being developed and improved and there is a very active harbour trust.

    The harbour was home to athriving, major herring fleet in it's early days whereas today's catch is more likely to be shellfish.

    The scant ruins of Dunbar castle perch precariously at one end of the harbour, now home to over 600 pairs of extremely noisy, smelly kittiwakes. They perch on every available rock and are swift to protect their young. We didn't dare walk under the overhanging walls for fear of being bombed by either bird or guano! Also at this end, there are some very interesting information boards detailing the harbour and castle's history.

    The other ruins are an 18thc fort and battery, bulit to protect the harbours from invading foreigners.

    Dunbar is also home to one of the largest lifeboat stations in the area.

    Once again, that sea mist put paid to any decent photos of this attractive place

    Us parked on the harbour in the mist.. Into the mist.... The castle Fishing boats Dunbar castle birds...
    Related to:
    • Birdwatching
    • Historical Travel
    • Sailing and Boating

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Scoughall Beach

    by nickandchris Updated Sep 10, 2014

    The beach at Scoughall is spectacular with stunning views towards Bass Rock to the north and Dunbar to the south, It seems the beach is called Peffer Sands and is only accessible on foot from various footpaths or from the temporary camp site at Scoughall farm during July and August. There is also a childrens religious holiday camp here from which they also have access.

    The Peffer Burn enters the sea on this beach at it's northern end and creates a very picturesue picture on a lovely sunny day, as you can see from my photos.

    I walked northwards along the beach to the rocky part and was so happy when I spotted seals on a nearby rock. I sat and watched them for some time and was amazed that they actually howled, like dogs. I have never heard a seal make a noise before and you could actually hear them at night time when it was quiet.

    Peffer Burn Peffer Burn Beach and river Dunbar from the sands. Sand galore...
    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Beaches

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Dirleton Church

    by nickandchris Updated Sep 10, 2014

    Beautifully located at the north end of the village green, in the pretty village of Dirleton, this stunning church is worthy of a visit. It is open daily and has the usual visitor book and offerings box.

    It was built in 1612 to finally replace the 12thc kirk in nearby Gullane.The church has been added to little by little, including the gothic pinnacles crowning the towers, added in 1836.

    There are some beautiful stained glass windows, donated by local people that really stand out.

    The church sits in beautifully maintained grounds.

    Pretty village location of Dirleton church. Architecturally pleasing Impressive stained glass Window
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Dirleton Castle

    by nickandchris Updated Sep 10, 2014

    We visited this castle purely unplanned, we were going to stop off in North Berwick for a look round but the place was packed and parking difficult so we gave it a miss.

    Instead, we noticed Dirleton castle on our OS map so decided to have a look. We are so glad we did, this is a real gem with plenty of ruins to look round and a lovely garden to wander at will.

    We parked on the village green road no problem, although there is a small car park just outside the castle, with a playground and toilets.

    Upon entry, we were given a leaflet and told we could leave and re-enter as many times as we liked during the day. This proved a good point, as we broke for lunch in the motorhome after an hour or so.

    The castle was built on a rocky promontory overlooking agricultural plains and guarding the coastal approach to Edinburgh from England via the port of North Berwick. The ruins consist of the 13thc keep and the 16thc house, adjacent, with a pretty courtyard between.The castle was abandoned in the late 17thc.Today, Historic Scotland is the landlord.

    We were really impressed by the huge underground storage vaults in the house as well as the pit prison. Not a nice place to end up in!

    To be honest, there is so much to see, we found it tricky remembering where we had seen! Unfortunately our visit coincided with a holiday club of extremely unruly children who ran amok. The adults supposedly in charge were only concerned with sunning themselves on the seats in the courtyard whilst chattering away. Some of the children even climbed on some perilous walls at the top of the castle.

    The castle is surrounded by immaculate gardens which were incredibly colourful in late July.These are under a separate tip.

    Admission is £5.50 for adults which was pretty reasonable, we thought.

    Open daily in summer, 9.30am - 5.30 pm.
    Oct - March, daily, 9.30am - 4.30pm.

    Approaching the gatehouse over a bridge. Towering ruins. Underground storage vaults. Dovecot Pretty impressive...
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Enjoy the Views For Free

    by nickandchris Updated Sep 8, 2014

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We didn't visit Bass Rock or Tantallon Castle, but enjoyed these superb sights from the beaches.

    Bass Rock, an ancient volcano,is sited in the Firth of Forth and looks almost white from afar, it being covered in guano. It is a pretty impressive sight on a clear day.

    The lighthouse on the rock was built in 1902 and there are remains of a chapel.The island is uninhabited today but regular boat trips circumnavigate the place to view the 150,000 gannets who live here.It is the largest single rock gannetry in the world.

    Tantallon Castle is a typical ruined Scottish castle teetering on a cliff top on arocky coast. Once again, views of Bass Rock from here are splendid.We were too mean to pay the admission price, as there really didn't seem to be too much of the castle to view. I think the big thing was the castle's location.We did get superb views of it from Seacliffe harbour.

    Admission is a hefty £5.50 and the castle is in the hands of Historic Scotland.

    Bass Rock view from Scoughall From Seacliffe Bass Rock and Scoughall beach Tantallon Castle from Seacliffe Tantallon
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Birdwatching
    • Photography

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Hume Castle

    by nickandchris Updated Sep 8, 2014

    We just happened to notice this castle in passing so called in for a brief look.

    The early 13th century castle stands magnificently proud on a hill in the middle of the village of Hume, almost looking like a sandcastle. Indeed, it turned into a folly at some stage of it's life, when the enormous outer walls were added in the 18th century.

    It belonged to the famous Home/Hume family but was bought by the state in 1929 and finally, in 1985, a restoration programme began. It opened in 1992 to the public and is now in the hands of Historic Scotland.

    There is a very small car park and admission is free. The walk up is fairly steep but short and you are rewarded with magnificent 360 degree views.Really, the views are worth the climb and would have to be as there isn't too much of the castle left to see. You can climb up to the view point, which we did but we didn't linger as we were infested by a plague of tiny black flies (not midges) and they stuck to our clothes!

    Not much to look at Typical castle crenellations. Highest point.
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Bellhaven Bay.

    by nickandchris Updated Sep 8, 2014

    Sadly, our visit here was marred by a thick, persistent sea mist but it appeared to be an interesting part of the coast.

    Bellhaven Bay is found to the west of Dunbar and forms part of the John Muir Country Park. The bay is extensive and backed in places by sand dunes.The views (on a clear day) across the Forth estuary and to Bass Rock are impressive.

    What caught our attention was the footbridge which appeared to be in the middle of the sands, seemingly leading nowhere. This is the way onto the sands, as it crosses the Biel water and is only accessible at low tide.Appearing out of the mist as it was made it a spooky scene indeed.

    The river Tyne flows into the bay slightly further north and apparently the bay was a very busy harbour in the 1800's. There was also a popular spa on the sands, only marked now by a concrete block.

    For further info, please look at the website below which shows photos of the information boards at the car park.

    Bridge on the beach crossing Biel Water. Beach bridge in the sea mist.
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Beaches
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Whiteadder Water Reservoir.

    by nickandchris Written Aug 26, 2014

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Strictly speaking, this is just over the border, in East Lothian but I am classing it in the Scottish Borders.

    There was once a rural community with a farm and school at the location until it was flooded in 1968 to provide water for the thirsty towns in East Lothian. Millknowe farm and Kingside School had to be demolished and flooded. Even the road along the valley had to be relocated.

    Whiteadder reservoir supplies East Lothian and Berwickshire, including Cockenzie Power Station on the northern coast of East Lothian, and is fed by the Whiteadder Water, the lowest tributary of the River Tweed which it enters at Berwick-on-Tweed.

    There is a sailing centre and fishing is by permit.

    I had a wander up to the reservoir from the picnic site(a steep climb from the dam end) and was impressed with the architecture of the workings of it. I enjoyed sitting on the dam end, watching the wild fowl bobbing about.

    First glimpse of the reservoir. Peaceful water. Workings. Impressive water works.
    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Fishing
    • Birdwatching

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Hirsel Country Park

    by nickandchris Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Another find!!
    Hirsel House is not open to the public but the 3,000 or so acres of woodland, river and lakeland walks are.Farming and forestry are still carried out today.
    In the Homestead Complex is a wonderful museum, housed in various outbuildings, depicting the historical background of the people who lived and worked here. Old farming equipment and gardening implements are on display. There is also a popular art and craft centre, where we were fascinated by the gem-stone workshop and retail outlet. Beautiful stones on display.And naturally there is a tea-room and a gallery.
    For the children there is a playground. When we visited, there was a whole hollow tree which children could run through.
    We thought the whole place excellent and for the £2 you pay to park, well worth it.

    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • Arts and Culture
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    St. Abbs Head

    by nickandchris Updated Jan 25, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This is a National Nature Reserve, belonging to National Trust for Scotland.
    It is an outstanding coastal area, extending for some 192 acres over sheer, jagged cliffs, formed from an extinct volcano.
    If you are into bird watching, then this is for you. During April - Aug thousands of nesting birds, kittiwakes, guillimots, kittiwakes, razor bills to name a few, gather on these plunging cliffs. What a racket!!! Even without the birds, it's a scenically beautiful place ideal for exploring the coast. The views, if you are there on a clear day, are stupendous. There are way-marked walks and also a visitor centre.
    As usual, it was blowing a gale and raining on our visit. Somewhere else to return to!!!!

    PHOTOS TO FOLLOW

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Beaches
    • Birdwatching

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Jim Clark Rooms

    by nickandchris Updated Jan 25, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I have to admit, I gave this one a miss and let the "boys" do it on their own. I don't know whether this was the start of Michael's love for the Grand Prix, but since then he has been to Silverstone twice and follows the racing avidly.
    The museum houses a collection of memorabilia from Jim Clark's motor racing days. He was twice the world racing champion in the 1960's. Before this, he was a lowly Berwickshire farmer.
    There are displays of trophies and photos as well as model cars.
    It's not a large museum so won't take too long to see everything.
    Admission charge and you can also buy souvenirs.

    Jim Clark Rooms
    Related to:
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo

    Kelso

    by nickandchris Updated Jan 25, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A pleasant Borders town situated at the confluence of the Rivers Tweed and Teviot, looked over by the Lammermuir Hills in the north and the Cheviots in the south.
    In the centre of the town is Kelso Abbey, built in 1128. It was one of the wealthiest abbeys in Scotland, taking it's riches from the vast lands, churches, schools and farms around it.
    By 1550, after the Reformation, the abbey was mostly in ruins. Many of the stones from the ruin were taken and used for buildings in the town. It wasn't until 1823 that the abbey ruins were made safe. Today, you can wander at will amongst the ruins, soaking up the history, and no admission price!!
    There's a tourist information centre, race track, golf course and Floors Castle. I seem to think this was closed when we were around.
    One bad point was that there was a charge, in 1998, of 20p to use the public toilets in the town. Outrageous.

    Kelso
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

Borders Hotels

See all 53 Hotels in Borders
  • Meadhon House

    48 Castlegate, Jedburgh, Roxburghshire TD8

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

  • Station Hotel

    26 Market Square, Melrose, TD6 9PT, United Kingdom

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Families

  • Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course

    Floors Castle, Roxburghshire, Kelso, TD5 8JZ, United Kingdom

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Solo

    Hotel Class 4 out of 5 stars

Top Borders Hotels

Melrose Hotels
21 Reviews - 62 Photos
Kelso Hotels
15 Reviews - 46 Photos
Saint Boswells Hotels
1 Hotel
Peebles Hotels
6 Reviews - 22 Photos
Jedburgh Hotels
9 Reviews - 100 Photos
Innerleithen Hotels
3 Reviews
Hawick Hotels
2 Reviews - 2 Photos
Galashiels Hotels
2 Hotels
Coldstream Hotels
1 Hotel

Instant Answers: Borders

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

33 travelers online now

Comments

Borders Things to Do

Reviews and photos of Borders things to do posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Borders sightseeing.
Map of Borders