Scotland – Exploring the Scottish Borders
The title of this blog post is inaccurate.
We really didn’t explore the Scottish Borders. Not all of it. Much as we would have liked to.
But when you have half a day, there is only so much you can do – that’s what return trips are for.
In truth, our visit to the Scottish Borders took in a small part of the Bemersyde estate and the surrounding area.
Even that, though, was enough to tell of stunning scenery and tranquility.
If it was good enough for Sir Walter Scott, who are we to complain?
The William Wallace Statue
Hidden away in the grounds of the Bemersyde estate, near Melrose is a statue commemorating Braveheart himself.
It stood in this part of Scotland long, long before Mel Gibson was a twinkle in his mother’s eye and these days is protected as a category B building.
The imposing statue – all 31 foot tall of it – dates back to 1814 and shows Wallace looking over the River Tweed.
Made of red sandstone, it appears somewhat from nowhere despite its imposing height.
That’s due to the wooded nature of the Bemersyde estate where it stands.
At the feet of this tribute to one of Scotland’s heroes is an inscription reading:
GREAT PATRIOT HERO!
ILL REQUITED CHIEF!
Bemersyde is also famous for Scott’s View, named after the famous Scottish playwright and poet Sir Walter Scott.
Looking out over the Eildon Hills, this was one of Sir Walter’s favourite views – and you can see why.
It is said the horse pulling the hearse taking him to his interment at Dryburgh Abbey stopped at this spot, as it usually did on its daily outings with Sir Walter aboard.
The Eildon Hills, the remains of volcanic activity, have been occupied in the past by Iron Age peoples and Romans.
Another site which provided inspiration for Sir Walter was Smailholm Tower.
The young poet visited his paternal grandfather there when he was a boy, spending considerable time at the tower.
It even provides the setting for his ballad, The Eve of St John.
As a result of Scott’s poetry, his uncle restored the tower in around 1800.
The small rectangular tower, 65ft high, was first built in the early part of the 15th century.
From its vantage point on a rocky outcrop – which takes a reasonable amount of climbing – you can enjoy some spectacular views of the Scottish Borders.