From the highest hill to the deepest valley, the Scottish Borders is an area full of promise and here are some of the best things to do. Opened by Formula One motor racing legend, Sir John Young ‘Jackie’ Stewart OBE in 2019, the Jim Clark Motorsport Museum is a must-see attraction for all motor sports enthusiasts. Dedicated to the life and achievements of Jim Clark – one of the greatest racing drivers of all time – the newly-refurbished museum in Duns features racing cars, trophies, photographs, audio visual displays, and a driving simulator.
Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre near Ancrum is the perfect destination for a family day out. It features one of the most accessible play parks in Scotland, with a Jedburgh Abbey-inspired centre feature, pyramid tower, an all-inclusive sensory boardwalk, the region’s only wheelchair swings, a picnic area, a toddlers’ play area, an agility trail, more than over 50 pieces of innovative and accessible play equipment. Since opening in 2019, the play park has become one of the most popular children’s attractions in the Borders. Harestanes also has a newly-refurbished cafe serving high-quality local produce, a range of retail outlets, a gin distillery, and a variety of walking trails.
Popular new play parks can also be found in Hawick, Galashiels, Oxton, and Kelso. All play parks are free and are managed by Live Borders, the local leisure, sport and cultural trust for the Scottish Borders. Visitors to Hawick can enjoy a walk in Wilton Lodge Park, the 107-acre estate which straddles the River Teviot and features walks, play areas, a recently-refurbished walled garden, and the Hawick Museum and Scott Art Gallery.
For history devotees, the Scottish Borders has a wealth of castles, historic homes and grand estates, including Abbotsford, former home to the famous writer and poet, Sir Walter Scott where today, visitors can enjoy the splendour of the house and gardens and take a stroll through the woodland and riverside. At the visitor centre, visitors can learn about Scott’s life, works and achievements, and enjoy a meal at the lovely Ochiltree cafe. In Melrose sits the picturesque ruin of the 12th-century Melrose Abbey. Adjacent to the Abbey is a National Trust for Scotland garden, Priorwood, which includes an orchard of heritage apple trees and a small wooded area. A short stroll away is Harmony Garden which is particularly beautiful in spring.
The Borders Distillery
Commercial Rd, Hawick TD9 7AQ
Visit The Borders Distillery – the first in the region since 1837 – and learn how they make whisky, gin, and vodka. The building is an award-winning conversion of Hawick’s former electrical works, and the tour is fascinating – guided by the people who make the spirit and finishing in the distillery bar with a tasty dram. Visit website
Kailzie, Peebles EH45 9HT
Kailzie Gardens, situated near Peebles, is a stunning garden to visit throughout the year. The gardens are set in peaceful surrounding with its walled and wild gardens and woodland walks. Other attractions for a day out include live viewings of the Tweed Valley Ospreys. In their seasons, including the display of snowdrops, daffodils and sheets of bluebells, the gardens provide a rich variety of colour and charm for both the keen gardener, and for the visitor simply wanting to enjoy a beautiful garden in peaceful surroundings. Visit website
Bisley at Braidwood
Braidwood, Selkirk TD7 4QD
Have a blast at Scotland’s largest sporting shooting school – no prior experience necessary. Set in over 40 acres of beautiful Scottish Borders countryside, Bisley at Braidwood is home to fantastic clay shooting for all the family, the country’s first indoor 100m rifle range, air rifle range, and even virtual reality shooting simulator. Relax in the clubhouse and enjoy a delicious burger, curry or more from the award-winning cafe. Visit website
Berihope Farm, Kelso TD5 8AP
Escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, spend some time with the charming Beirhope Alpacas and enjoy the breath-taking views of the Cheviot Hills. Whether you fancy an alpaca trekking adventure or alpaca stroll around the Beirhope Farm there is something suitable for all ages and abilities. Visit website
Jedburgh Castle Jail & Museum
Castle Gate, Jedburgh TD8 6AS
Jedburgh Castle Jail & Museum was built in 1823 and is an impressive building with stunning views across the town. As well as learning about the history of the Royal Burgh of Jedburgh, the jail gives visitors the chance to experience what life was life in a 1820s prison. The main building houses a collection of artefacts, prints and paintings which tell the history of Jedburgh. There is also a temporary exhibition space. Jedburgh Castle Jail is said to be the finest remaining Howard reform prison in Scotland and visitors can learn about some of its previous inhabitants through the prisoners’ blocks. Individual cells retain their original features. Visit website
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