The Scotlanders | Borders Update
Our second Scotlanders travel blog on the Borders comes from Kim Kjaerside, a Danish traveller and photographer who has fallen in love with Scotland
Firstly, let me briefly introduce myself. I arrived in London from Denmark in 2000, met a Scots lass (now my wife) and in 2005 we made our way north to Scotland for a better lifestyle – and for a greater opportunity to travel and photograph this beautiful country I now call home.
I quickly became hugely passionate about travelling around Scotland. I love telling people our stories and why they should make a visit to this beautiful country, and take time to explore the many remote and secluded regions there are to find.
It has been great to join the rest of the Scotlanders earlier this year, we have already enjoyed several adventures – and have many more opportunities planned to explore and visit new corners of our home in the year ahead.
The Scottish Borders campaign
VisitScotland first got in touch with me a few months back about the Scotlanders joining their campaign to promote the Borders Railway, and straight away it sounded like a really exciting opportunity for us!
The re-opening of the Scottish Borders and Midlothian Railway is scheduled for September 6, and this line is the largest section of railway to open in the UK in 100 years. It will allow visitors from Edinburgh and the central belt to arrive in the Scottish Borders in under an hour, so now we have no excuses for not making the visit!
We came on board to support the awareness of the region and its attractions in preparation for the tickets going on sale and the trains starting to run.
In the weeks leading up to our weekend of exploring the Borders, there was a lot of planning and coordination between myself and the VisitScotland PR team. Even during these weeks I got to learn a lot more about the region of the Scottish Borders and why it is key that this region is further promoted to both local and international visitors. There is so much to explore including historic houses and gardens, beautiful abbeys and enchanting little villages.
Following in the footsteps of Sir Walter Scott
When the weekend finally arrived, my itinerary was going to be based on exploring and promoting the historic houses, sites and gardens around the Scottish Borders – following in the footsteps of Sir Walter Scott. The other Scotlanders had their designated itinerary, too, and you can see their travel blogs in the box on the right.
Susanne and Neil arrived with me on the Friday evening to the luxurious Abbotsford House, where we would be staying for two nights. We started off our weekend with amazing dinner at the new local restaurant The Hoebridge Inn, tucked away in the little village of Gattonside.
On the Saturday morning I set off fairly early and firstly made my way to Scott’s View, one of the best views you would find in the Scottish Borders, and a favourite of Sir Walter Scott. From there I made my way to what has to be one of the most idyllic abbeys in Scotland: Dryburgh. I spent a while there just walking the grounds and taking in the peaceful setting and surroundings in the area. It is a very photogenic abbey!
It had also been recommended to visit the Smailholm Tower, another very important site for Sir Walter Scott and definitely worth a visit if you’re passing by.
I enjoyed lunch and a tour at the very grand Floors Castle just outside Kelso – yet another very impressive house in the Scottish Borders with so much history. I also had the opportunity to try out a new ‘Guide Me Tours’ App which can now be used at many historic houses throughout Scotland, giving visitors the opportunity to have a guided tour at their own pace.
After lunch I made my way back to the Scottish Borders Book Festival. The second evening we enjoyed a wonderful meal and great banter by the staff at the award winning Burt’s Hotel in Melrose, which was ideally placed only a short walk from Harmony House, where the book festival was taking place.
By then Dougie had joined us after spending the day travelling the length of the new railway and exploring Melrose. Here’s his railway video below, and to watch his video on Abbotsford House, click here.
On the Sunday we had a longer lie and another fantastic breakfast at Abbotsford House, before enjoying a wonderful tour by Julie of the main house – and what a house! To read more about our visit, have a look at my blog, here.
After this I made my way to Kelso to visit Kelso Abbey and also the Teviot Smokery and Water Garden Centre, which was a really special place – peaceful and tranquil, with the soothing sounds of the flowing waters.
I drove further around the area to explore the region and made my way back to see the final day of the Borders Book Festival. On the way back to Edinburgh I made a final stop at the impressive Leaderfoot Viaduct Viewpoint, which can be found a short drive north of Melrose.
So what’s next?
The following week Neil was on the SS Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine, which is a visit I too would love to make as it looks like a magical experience. He was working on a Trossachs post and they kindly invited him along to experience the cruise.
The week after our visit to the Scottish Borders I made my way south of the borders again to the big smoke (London) with my work and spent the best part of a week in my kilt at various events and appointments, selling Scotland to as many people as possible!
It has to be said with the temperatures in and around London and its underground, is not really made for wearing kilts!
The next exciting visit around Scotland I am planning is a return to visit the beautiful Outer Hebrides in August. My last visit there was about 11 years ago – before I made the decision to move to Scotland. Seeing the beautiful landscape and nature of these islands was a big factor in me wanting to make the move north.
Before then I am joining the Scotlanders on a visit to explore the fantastic Kingdom of Fife in early August and I am really looking forward to visiting the new Kingsbarns Distillery, Eden Mill and several other smaller local producers in Fife.