Ten free of charge visitor attractions in the Scottish Borders
Plan your perfect trip to the Scottish Borders with our guide to ten top free of charge things to do in this beautiful region.
1. Coldstream Museum
A military museum in the town of Coldstream, located at the spot where General Monck marched on London in 1660 to restore the Stuart monarchy. Permanent displays relate the history of the Coldstream Guards, featuring items on loan from the Guards. A changing exhibition in the Courtyard Gallery features items of local interest. Open April to October.
Coldstream Museum, 12 Market Square, Coldstream TD12 4BD; tel: 01890 882630; website.
2. Eyemouth Museum
Discover the maritime and farming history of the coastal village of Eyemouth through displays, photographs and stories which follow the growth of a number of local industries including fishing, blacksmithing, farming and toolmaking. Open April to October.
Whole families were involved in the herring trade in its heyday and the museum has a fisherman’s living quarters display, as well as material relating to the town’s 1881 fishing disaster in which 189 men lost their lives.
Eyemouth Museum, Manse Road, Eyemouth TD14 7JE; tel: 01890 751701; website.
3. Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey was build in 1128 and was one of four important medieval abbeys in the Borders. This Romanseque building was one of the finest monastic buildings in Scotland and visitors can explore the substantial ruins which include part of the west front, the Galilee porch, the western transcept and part of the nave. Open throughout the year.
Kelso Abbey, Bridge Street, Kelso TD5 7JD; tel: 0131 668 8600; website.
4. Hawick Hub
One of the top three tourist attractions in the Borders, Heart of Hawick brings together a range of things to do, including a textile museum, visitor centre, heritage hub, events centre, theatre and café.
Heritage Hub, Kirkstile, Hawick TD9 0AE; tel: 01450 360680; website.
5. Hume Castle
This Scheduled Ancient Monument was built in late twelfth or early thirteenth century and stands on a hill overlooking the village of Hume near Kelso. The castle played a key role in defending the Borders, particularly during the Civil War, when it was captured by Oliver Cromwell; in later years it acted as a warning beacon location during the Napoleonic Wars.
The medieval castle ruins were overlaid by a folly in the late eighteenth century, giving the site a striking appearance that makes it a well-known landmark. Open all year round.
Hume Castle, Hume, Kelso TD5 7TR.
6. Jim Clark Museum
A museum dedicated to racing driver Jim Clark, Formula 1 World Champion in 1963 and 1965. This small museum is home to more than 100 trophies and racing memorabilia including the Jim Clark’s racing overalls, film footage relating to his career, photographs, newspaper cuttings and magazines. Open April to October.
Jim Clark Museum, 44 Newtown Street, Duns TD11 3AU; tel: 01361 883960; website.
7. Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre
A sixteenth-century tower house in the centre of Jedburgh where Mary Queen of Scots stayed in 1566. The Centre comprises objects relating to the Stewart queen which have been collected over the years, including paintings and textiles. The different rooms, including a rogues gallery and last letter room tell the story of Mary’s tragic life. Open March to November.
Mary Queen of Scots House, Queen Street, Jedburgh TD8 6EN; tel: 01835 863331; website.
8. Polish Map of Scotland
A large outdoor scale model of Scotland, which shows a three-dimensional representation of the country. The map, which measures 40m x 50m, was built in the 1970s by a team led by Polish military officer General Maczek who had served in Scotland in World War Two.
The map recently received a Heritage Lottery funding for its restoration and visitors are welcome to come along and see Scotland in three dimensions. Access available year-round.
Mapa Scotland, Barony Castle Hotel, Eddleston EH45 8QW; website.
9. St Abb’s Head Nature Reserve
A National National Reserve known for its soaring cliffs and large community of seabirds. There are plenty of walking routes and visitors may spot kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots. The Nature Centre (open spring and summer) offers an exhibition, leaflets and guided walks. Access to the Nature Reserve is available year round.
St Abb’s Head Nature Reserve, Eyemouth TD14 5QF; tel: 01890 771443; website.
10. St Ronan’s Wells Visitor Centre
A historic spa which hosts exhibitions on the history of Innerleithen and St Ronan’s Wells, describing their connections with the writers Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg. Open March to October.
St Ronan’s Wells, Wells Brae, Innerleithen EH44 6RB; tel: 01896 833583; website.
Images: Coldstream © Kevin Rae; St Abbs Head © Oliver Dixon; Kelso Abbey © Postdlf; Hawick Hub © Mark Hope; Hume Castle, Mary Queen of Scots House and Jim Clark Museum © Walter Baxter; Polish Map © Kim Traynor; St Ronan’s Wells © James Denham; Karen Denham; Eyemouth © Karen Bryan.