After nearly four years of living in Edinburgh, it came to my attention that I still had never been to the Scottish Borders. This is excused partially by the pandemic, and partially by the fact I don’t have a car. Awhile ago, Angus brought up the idea of going on the Borders railway when things opened back up. It’s only around 1 hour from Edinburgh to Tweedbank – the end of the railway line. A very achievable trip we thought.
Initially we planned to go to Galashiels (the stop before Tweedbank), or Melrose (a short walk from Tweedbank) for a day. When I posted on my Instagram asking for recommendations, a friend got in touch and offered to have us stay in her newly renovated flat in Melrose before it went up on Airbnb. So, off we went for a weekend in Melrose!
Your weekend in Melrose: How to get there
From Edinburgh – by train and bus or foot
Getting to Melrose is super easy but I found it a bit intimidating. The Borders railway only takes you as far as Tweedbank. At Tweedbank, you can easily get a Borders Bus on to Melrose, or walk. When I looked it up online, the walk seemed quick and easy. When I spoke to people in real life, they were a bit confused about why I’d walk. I think it’s the not having a car vs always having had a car divide. Regardless, the walk was super easy. We only had a small backpack, so it was a cheery half hour walk for us.
Where to go?
Our host Erin gave us a ton of recommendations about where to go, where to eat, and what to see. We took (almost) all of her recommendations. On Saturday, we walked to Melrose Abbey and stopped in at Priorswood Garden along the way. Everything in Melrose is super close, it’s a tiny little village so it’s easy to get around. The garden is a National Trust site and absolutely adorable. If we’d driven there (or planned ahead) we’d have brought a picnic for sure. Attached to the garden is a small shop called “Tickety Boo” which is the perfect name for a National Trust adjoined gift shop if you ask me. It had a ton of local gifts like Isle of Skye candles, Scottish art, and also sold fabric? It was the kind of shop my mother would love, and I loved it too.
Melrose Abbey cost £3.50 for an adult ticket, but the abbey itself is shut to visitors. (It’s shut as there are concerns about the state of the stonemasonry and it potentially falling on visitors). We paid to enter and got access to the grounds around the abbey, as well as the museum. I still found it well worthwhile! But, if you’re not so keen on historical sites, you get better views of the abbey from outside of the fenced area. The museum was interesting and packed full of Roman artefacts as well as information about the town history.
We didn’t make it up the Eildon Hills, which was my fault because of my poor planning. 🙁 Angus & I love a hillwalk, and I was really keen to go up the hills, but I somehow equally forgot to pack proper footwear. Our trainers would have been totally fine but it had been raining off and on and I just knew they would get muddy and ruined if we went for it. There’s still plenty to do in Melrose so we pottered about instead. Now we have a good reason to go back soon!
It just so happened that we went to Melrose the same weekend as the town festival, which was very coincidental but I’ll take it as my good planning. There was a little fairground in one of the parks and loads of events on, including a race up the hills! Yet another reason why we didn’t go up the hills. On one hand it was so lovely to be in Melrose when everyone was out and about. It had a lovely community feel to it. On the other hand, most of the nice restaurants where booked up before we realised we should book.
Where to eat?
As I said, I can’t give a full review on eateries because we didn’t book where we would have. Erin, our host, gave a thorough overview of all the best places in town for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We ate at Apples for Jam (pictured below) and Eden for breakfast – both were very nice. Then, we got some food at the Co-op and just made ourselves lunch and dinner. And, we had one dinner at Monte Cassino, an Italian restaurant just a few minutes walk from the Airbnb.
Where to stay?
Stay with Erin! The Airbnb couldn’t be better placed, right off the main square so everything is right at your fingertips. It’s a studio apartment that’s just been renovated and it’s so nice. It had everything we needed – a comfy bed, a cosy spot in front of the TV, a kitted out kitchen with a micro, dishwasher, and refrigerator. We couldn’t have had a better place to stay!
Where to shop?
As I mentioned, Tickety Boo was a favourite of mine. Erin also gave us tons of recommendations for shops, including an antique shop, and vintage book shop just around the corner from the flat. A few places were closed to celebrate the festival, but we found our way into everything that was still open. We stuck our noses into the vintage book shop and came out with five new books. And, I enjoyed a nosy around the Cancer Research charity shop – it’s massive! There’s also a fair few gift shops that I had a potter around and very much enjoyed.
Any questions? Leave them below!
Explore my “A weekend away in…” posts to discover more weekend destinations from Edinburgh!