The real Scotland
starts right at the border with England. Different accents in the shops
and different names for beer in pubs are just two of the ways in which
Scotland stamps its own personality straight away. In scenery too, the
hazy blue hills running out to a wide horizon have lifted the hearts of
generations of travellers at the border on the A68 at Carter Bar.
are the forests and wild moors of upland Galloway and the vivid greens
of Ayrshire's pastures, with the mountain profile of the island of Arran
as a backdrop. Wherever you travel here, you can be assured of a real
roll down to pastures and dark woods and in turn, give way to rich farmlands
and a sunny south facing coastline. Scotland's southwest is blessed with
a mild climate and offers plenty to entertain the visitor from beautifully
photogenic gardens and villages to dramatic castles reached by quiet roads.
town of Dumfries is an important local centre with places to visit associated
with Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. Other towns are small and
show the typical Galloway layout of painted pastel colours on pretty houses
along wide main streets.
has long attracted artists and you can visit Broughton House,
0 associated with the Scottish painter E.A. Hornel and also the Tolbooth
Arts Centre within the town. The ferry port of Stranraer is within
easy reach of Port Logan and Logan Botanic Gardens, where
Australasian tree ferns thrive in the mild air. Newton Stewart is the
gateway to the Galloway Forest Park, where lochs, woodland
and craggy hill slopes create grandeur and a wilderness experience to
match the Highlands further north. Nearby is Wigtown, the recently nominated
book town of Scotland.
Dumfries, Ellisland Farm is associated with Robert Burns.
The farm has now been restored to what it would have looked like at the
time of Burns. The poet wrote many famous works while farming here with
his young wife Jean Armour, a theme taken up by the on-site audiovisual.
and Threave Castles, Sweetheart and Dundrennan
Abbeys all tell of the antiquity of the Solway area. Whithorn
was the first Christian settlement in Scotland and was a place of pilgrimage
for generations of Scottish monarchs. An archaeological dig and associated
visitor centre portray the fascinating story. Part of the pilgrim route
is known as the Queen's Way (today's A712) and runs through some of the
area's finest landscapes in the Galloway Forest Park.
Borders, less than an hour's drive from Edinburgh, is an area of tranquil
villages, bustling textile towns and varied scenery. Visitors can enjoy
a wide range of attractions, including many magnificent historic houses,
great Border Abbeys, which tell their own tale of Border feuds with England,
and working woolen mills and craft workshops.
adventures of the old time reivers (Border raiders) are still recounted
in song and ballad today. Drumlanrig's Tower in Hawick,
the largest of the Scottish Border towns, portrays life in bygone days.
The spirit of self-reliance and pride in the community is nowhere better
expressed than in the Border Common Ridings. These annual
events in early summer recall times when community boundaries had to be
protected from invaders. Now they are great celebrations of horsemanship.
The town of Selkirk claims that its Common Riding is the largest mounted
gathering anywhere in Europe.
Scott, the famous Scottish writer, lived at Abbotsford near
Melrose. Visit his house today to see his collection of memorabilia from
Scotland's story. Scott is buried at Dryburgh Abbey, one
of four abbeys, which once were influential in Borders' life. The abbeys
themselves were destroyed in 1544 by the invading armies of the English
King Henry VIII, when Mary, Queen of Scots was but a young child. Today,
the ruins stand as a beautiful and poignant reminder of times past.
A major visitor
centre at Jedburgh Abbey explains the abbey's former importance.
The monks first developed the skill of working with wool, laying the foundation
of the textile industry, which still thrives in the area today. Lochcarron
of Scotland in Galashiels is just one of the many textile mills
and shops where visitors can see the manufacturing processes and purchase
the finished goods.
also passed this way. They named their main camp Trimontium, as it lay
below the triple peaked Eildon Hills near Melrose. The Trimontium
Exhibition in this handsome little town tells the story of Roman
occupation. Melrose also has many other features to detain you, including
an abbey and teddy bear museum.
special characteristic is the choice of grand homes and castles to visit.
Manderston, near Duns, is often described as the most magnificent
Edwardian house in Scotland. Floors Castle, on the edge
of Kelso, is said to be the largest inhabited home in Scotland. Traquair
House near Innerleithen also has its own distinctive feature,
as the oldest continually inhabited house in Scotland. Many of these properties
have fine gardens, which is another Scottish Borders' trait. Other gardens
to visit include Dawyk, west of Peebles, an outstation of
Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden and Priorwood, beside Melrose
AND THE ISLE OF ARRAN
and the Isle of Arran, one can enjoy the contrasts between island and
mainland life whilst exploring the many visitor attractions. These include
historic castles, country parks and 44 golf courses, which include world-famous
Royal Troon, Turnberry and Prestwick.
There is also superb walking amid the forests and mountains of Arran (the
main peak, Goat Fell, is the highest point in the South of Scotland),
award-winning museums and heritage centres.
is the land of Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. His birthplace,
now Burns Cottage and Museum, at nearby Alloway, is within
the Burns National Heritage Park where you can visit other
Burns attractions. These include the Tam o' Shanter Experience,
an exciting audiovisual experience based on Burn's great comic narrative
poem, which tells of farmer Tam o' Shanter's encounter with witches on
the way home from a long evening in a local alehouse. Ayr is the starting
point of the Burns Heritage Trail, which traces the life
of the poet from his birthplace in Alloway south to Dumfries.
the story of Scotland's seafaring past is told in the Scottish Maritime
Museum at Irvine. Inland, a major display of early musical instruments
and armour can be seen at Kilmarnock's Dean Castle, a restored
14th century fortress. Also within easy reach, in the coastal town of
Largs, is Vikingar, the Viking Heritage Centre. The Viking
role in Scotland's story is explored through film, live actors and displays.
Castle, the masterpiece of the architect Robert Adam, has an impressive
cliff-top setting and its spacious grounds form a country park. Children
can enjoy plenty of fun at other country parks, including the secret forest
at Kelburn Country Centre, an adventure and discovery trail
in the woodlands of the Kelburn Castle estate near Largs. From the estate,
there are views to the islands of Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae, with
the former, easily accessed from Largs, a real haven for cyclists.
spectacular mountain profile of the Isle of Arran fills the sea horizon
as viewed from the Ayrshire coast. Playground for generations of outdoor
enthusiasts, Arran is easily reached by ferry from Ardrossan. In addition
to its adventurous walking, forest trails and coastal walks, the island
is also noted for the Isle of Arran Heritage Museum, as
well as prehistoric sites and standing stones. Brodick Castle and
Country Park is a major attraction - a magnificent castle built
over many centuries and displaying a very fine collection of art, porcelain
and silver. Outdoors, there are rare shrubs and plants and world-famous
rhododendron displays. Yet another attraction is the Isle of Arran
Distillers at Lochranza, a typical Scottish whisky distillery.
of its summer ferry service to Kintyre on the West Side, Arran makes an
important stepping stone on any tour of the western seaboard.