The Scottish Borders area is full of lovely little towns and villages, but a criticism of some of them would be that there isn't always much to do. That's why we feel Melrose is a bit special - there is plenty to do within walking distance, and the town itself has a number of great little restaurants and fun bars. We wanted to publish a guide about this town for anyone considering visiting in 2023. Let's get into it::
Where is Melrose?
As we've already mentioned, Melrose is in the Scottish Borders, within the Roxburgh, Ettrick & Lauderdale county area. It's about 30 miles from Edinburgh, 50 miles from Carlisle, and 70 miles from Newcastle. Because of how close the town is to a number of major cities, it's quite a popular place to live and has been voted as one of the best places to live in Scotland quite recently.
What is there to see and do in Melrose?
Despite being quite a small town, there is plenty to see and do in Melrose. We've tried to include as many attractions as we can which are reachable by foot, but the attractions which require driving or public transport are also worth your time if you have the means.
Here are some of the highlights:
Trimontium Museum & Fort Site
Sir Walter Scott is an instantly recognisable name in the world of literature and is one of the most iconic Scottish figures to have ever lived alongside the likes of Burns and Wallace. Abbotsford is the house in which Scott lived and worked, and it is an amazing place to visit and explore. You'll learn about Scott's influential work and see his amazing personal library.
The fascinating history attached to the house is enough reason to visit for many, but the building itself is also spectacular - built in the early 19th century, it is a Category A Listed Building and the estate is listed in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland.
The house isn't actually in Melrose, but it's only a short distance away and is absolutely worth visiting if you have the time. You can catch a number of buses or simply walk the 7 or so miles if you've got the time and energy (great place to get a drone out!)
Learn more and plan your visit here - scottsabbotsford.com
If you're walking to the Tweed past the astroturf, you might as well stop at the Parish Church for a quick visit. It's not particularly old but there's good reason for this - it was actually rebuilt after a fire destroyed almost the entire building. The tower was the only part of the original church that was left, and so a new church was built around it. During our quick visit, we were very warmly welcomed and had an interesting chat with a staff member who was there.
Go over the Gattonside Suspension Bridge
Gattonside is a small village to the North of Melrose, and although we wouldn't say a trip to the village is needed (it's very small and not much to see, but lovely), a trip over the bridge which connects Melrose and Gattonside is very pleasant. The bridge was originally constructed in the early 19th century, but you'll be glad to hear that it has been strengthened and refurbished since then. We'd also say that the Gattonside side of the tweed is a bit nicer than the Melrose side, and you can walk right round the river where it is very quiet and peaceful.
Follow a walking route
Melrose is the ideal base to join a number of walking routes, with both the Southern Upland Way and the Borders Abbeys Way looping around the town. Both routes are well signposted and although you might not complete either route, walking part of either is very pleasant and takes you through some lovely scenery. If you enjoyed your visit to Melrose Abbey then following the Borders Abbeys Way to see the other abbeys in the area is a great way to spend a few days.
Visit the shops and grab a bite
For a small town, Melrose actually has a very impressive selection of shops and places to eat. The Twelve Triangles bakery on the high street serves up delicious homemade cakes, and the Provender restaurant serves Scottish and French-inspired dishes made with locally sourced ingredients such as Eyemouth Hake. If you're a bookworm, a visit to The Reading Room is recommended. There is plenty more to see and the town offers much more than just tourist shops stuffed with rubbish - you can do some serious shopping here!
Hopefully, we've given you plenty of reason to want to visit this lovely little town, but you might have realised that there is quite a bit to see and do in Melrose, so an overnight stay is absolutely warranted. You've got a number of accommodation options in the town, with options like Burt's Hotel, The Townhouse (pictured), and George & Abbotsford being the most popular places to stay. The vegetarian breakfast at Burt's hotel, with homemade veggie black pudding, is delicious and in our opinion makes the hotel one of the best vegetarian places to stay in the UK.