On leaving Dunbar it was just a short hop south to Lauder to stay at the Thirlestane Castle Caravan Site (click here for my review).
We still stopped on the way for a spot of lunch and to watch the cows in the fields though! (Notice how we were still in our shorts. In October. In Scotland!!)
The reason we had chosen this site was that it was in the grounds of Thirlestane Castle – which had closed for the season just a day or 2 before we arrived…..
Still, it was a nice walk along the road down towards the castle and then back up the steep road to head into the small town. Here we wandered along the High Street, taking in the numerous ‘Wynds’, the old church (which has a watchhouse in the grounds to protect against bodysnatchers) , the town hall and pubs.
We visited the unusual church – unusual in that it is built in the shape of a Greek cross and inside pews fill the whole space, found Queen Elizabeth II’s signature in the visitor book, peered in the window of the bakery (very disappointing – nothing to entice you in!) and popped into the Black Bull for a quick drink.
Our 2nd day here saw us heading down towards Jedburgh (which we could have visited from Northumberland – in fact our friends did just that the day before we went).
On the way we stopped off at a lovely old bridge (Old Drygrange Bridge; New Drygrange bridge takes the A68 nowadays) spanning the Leader and here we both actually saw salmon jumping out of the water – once we got the camera though they stopped (of course!) We were also able to admire the beautiful Leaderfoot viaduct, and we could have walked a mile or so up to a roman site, the Trimontium Roman Fort (but we chose not to…)
Moving on after a short stop taking in the wonderful views, we found ourselves in Jedburgh. We parked for free and followed the signs towards the abbey and gaol. We decided to visit the gaol first, which entailed a walk up a steep hill, with plentiful interesting buildings, alleys and blue plaques along the way, followed by a final steep ascent to the gaol itself!
This attraction is free to visit and it was full of interest, although we didn’t have full access as some areas are currently being renovated, we did see many of the cells, set out as they would have been when they were occupied (throughout different periods of it’s history), and learned about the people who were incarcerated there (men, women and children), together with the heinous crimes of which they were found guilty….
We then retraced our steps towards the abbey, stopping for a spot of lunch on the way in the Abbey View Café & Bookshop. Much of the abbey can be seen from outside, but there is obviously a lot more to be discovered inside the walls. We, however, chose not to spend the money to go in and carried on back through town to visit the house that Mary Queen of Scots spent some time staying in.
Also free to visit (although I did spend some money in the shop 🙂 ), this is a very interesting place (even if there is some debate about whether this is where she actually did stay).
The house does have an interesting feature in a left-handed spiral staircase to make it easier for the family to fight as they were all left-handed!
On our way home we took the road through Melrose and Selkirk. Parts of this route were beautiful; other parts less so! The last couple of miles climbing back up to Lauder were stunning.
After a lazy morning the next day we headed off after lunch with no real idea where we were going! We simply took one of the left hand turnings off of the main road! And stopped very shortly after having spotted the Greenknowe Tower on the left hand side of the road (this is shown in the main picture). We turned around and parked up to go take a look.
The tower is accessible and very much still intact (from the outside anyway). You can make your way all the way to the top to take in the magnificent scenery 🙂
We found ourselves driving through the small town of Gordon and finally heading to Kelso. Passing a large art deco building I thought it was a school, but have since discovered it to be Kelso Tait Hall. We also saw an impressive old church that was being left to decay – it was up for sale but sadly neglected.
Floors Castle is located on the outskirts of Kelso – we knew it was there although we couldn’t see it from the road. We did park up and take a short walk along the river from where we managed to glimpse this impressive building (once again we were too late to visit).
Kelso itself is a pleasant enough town. It has ruined remains of it’s own abbey, a nice market square, an impressive bridge across the River Tweed and a nice walk alongside the river.
Time was getting on as we made our way back to the van so we ended up stopping in the nearby town of Earlston to get fish and chips. The chippie, Alfonso’s, doesn’t just sell fish and chips, but also pizzas, kebabs, burgers and chicken. And very nice it all was too 🙂