Discover Melrose

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The historic town of Melrose is internationally famous for its annual Melrose Sevens rugby tournament, but it’s also home to the beautiful St. Mary’s Abbey (circa 1136); the final resting place of Robert the Bruce’s heart.

There’s also no shortage of fabulous hotels, guest houses, B&Bs and holiday lets in the area! All of this featuring the stunning backdrop of the picturesque Eildon Hills (without a doubt the most recognisable signature landmark of the Scottish Borders).

So, if you’re interested in a visit to Melrose, our guide will tell you more about what you can expect to find there.

Places to visit

Explore a partially ruined gothic monastery

The historic and atmospheric St. Mary’s Abbey dates all the way back to 1136, when it was built by Cistercian monks at King David I’s request – making it the first Cistercian abbey in Scotland.

A significant portion of the abbey itself now lies in ruins, but you can still marvel at the many decorative carved stone details, including dragons, gargoyles, saints and plants. It’s also home to the final resting place of Robert the Bruce’s embalmed heart (the rest of him lies in Dunfermline).

Located on one of the abbey’s many stairways, you’ll find an inscription by master mason John Morrow, which reads ‘Be halde to ye hende’ (“Keep in mind, the end, your salvation”), which has since become the town’s official motto!

Pay a visit to Sir Walter Scott’s home

Located just outside Melrose, Abbotsford House is famous for once being the home of Sir Walter Scott, and to this day remains a monument to his tastes, talents and achievements. The house itself was built in three phases; 1817 – 1819, 1822 – 1825, and after Scott’s death in the 1850s.

There’s often exhibitions being shown in the Exhibition Room, but you can also get a glimpse into Sir Walter Scott’s life with rooms such as Scott’s study, the dining room, the armoury, the library, and the chapel – amongst others.

In fact, you can quite easily spend a day exploring the house, the gardens and the incredible woodland estate located by the banks of the River Tweed. We’ve visited since the recent multi-million pound refurbishment, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Learn the history of a real Roman fort

The Romans held a strong presence in the Borders when they came to shatter the Celtic idyll in 80 AD. The built a strong military road lined with forts from Dover to Aberdeen, but Trimontium (just east of Melrose) was one of the most significant between the rivers Tyne and Forth.

Nowadays you can find out all about the Trimontium by visiting the Three Hills Roman Heritage Centre, home to the Trimontium Museum. There you’ll find illustrated panels, modern artefact display cases, and aerial photos of the site, along with artists’ drawings, models and maps.

You can also see a blacksmith’s workshop, a Roman kitchen and pottery, along with replica armour! Not only that, but you can also take in a special Roman Frontiers video about Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall in the video room.

And after that, why not pay a visit to the site of the Trimontium, itself? To find out how to get there, and about various guided tours and walks available, check out the official Trimontium website.

Feel in harmony with nature

If you love a bit of peace and tranquility, Harmony House and Garden is the perfect place to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and be at one with nature. After all, there’s one-and-a-half hectares of beautiful yet secluded walled garden to take in!

The house itself has many admirers, and is considered to be possibly the finest example of a Georgian townhouse in Scotland. It’s no wonder so many events are held on its grounds – including the Borders Book Festival!

Admission to Harmony House and Garden is free, but donations are welcome. Opening times do vary slightly depending on the time of year, so check the official website for more information.

Conclusion

With such a rich history, there’s plenty of interesting places to visit in Melrose! From gorgeous gardens to gothic monastery ruins and a grand castle, you’ll be sure to find somewhere to let your imagination run wild.

Things to do

Go for a wander

A popular destination for walkers, Melrose happens to be the starting point of the well-known St. Cuthbert’s Way, spanning 64 miles and leading all the way to the Holy Island off the Northumberland Coast.

And with beautiful views of Melrose Abbey ruins, the River Tweed, Eildon Hills, and an intriguing old footbridge, the Melrose area is ideal if you like to have a bit of a wander. One of our favourite Melrose walks happens to incorporate all of these, and you can read all about it on our blog.

There’s also no shortage of local pubs and cafes in Melrose for when you need to refuel!

Get on your bike!

Melrose is also an ideal spot for cyclists, with plenty of scenic views, hilly areas and downhill runs to send the wind through your hair. However, beware that some of the cycle trails do use short sections of A class and some busier B class roads – unfortunately this is unavoidable.

Most of the Melrose trails use the starting point of the car park over at St. Dunstans Park, which you’ll find off the west end of Melrose High Street – almost parallel to the Greenyards rugby ground. For more information, download the Melrose cycling brochure.

Fish the Tweed

Melrose has a fantastic selection of game and course fishing in the area.The River Tweed is renowned for its salmon fishing, but there’s also trout season (between April and October) to be had! In fact, you’ll find both brown trout and sea trout fishing on offer.

Permit policies do tend to differ between fishing clubs, however you can typically pick up daily, weekly and season tickets.

Squeeze in a quick 9 holes

If golfing if more your thing, Melrose Golf Club is a gem of a course, situated right at the foot of the splendid Eildon Hills. This par 70, 9-hole course was developed in 1880, with gorgeous tree-lined fairways reaching a total of 5,545 yards.

Members and visitors alike find Melrose an agreeable course, and a good challenge for all abilities. Plus, did I mention the views are fantastic? Find out more, including how to book a round, via the official website.

Hop on a train

That’s right, for the first time since 1969, visitors are now able to explore the beautiful surroundings of Melrose and the Scottish Borders… and then hop on a train over to Edinburgh! It’s just a five-minute drive (or 15 – 20 minutes’ walk) to the new Borders Rail link at Tweedbank.

Sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Scottish Borders, and in under an hour, you’ll find yourself in Scotland’s capital, where you can take in the sights and explore all the city of Edinburgh has to offer. A perfect day out for all the family!

Shopping

1. Henderson’s of Melrose

If gardening is your thing, Henderson’s of Melrose is just lovely to visit, and offers a unique shopping experience in the very heart of the Borders. Here you’ll find quirky, unusual and individual garden furniture, stoneware and other bits and pieces from independent suppliers.

For more information, and to see what’s available in the online shop, check out the Henderson’s website.

2. Abbey Wines

The largest independent wine merchant in the central Borders, Abbey Wines offer a very large selection of fine wines and malt whiskies. However, their speciality is selling wines from small producers and estates from across the world – many of them award-winning!

Over the years, Abbey Wines has built up a wonderful reputation for quality and service, and it’s also worth contacting them to check if there are any tastings or wine seminars happening nearby.

For details, check out their page on the Melrose Scotland website.

3. Butterfly

If you love shopping for unusual gifts and greeting cards you won’t necessarily find on the high street, you’ll love Butterfly! Stocking a variety of gifts for all occasions, this gift shop prides itself on finding rare and unusual items, including jewellery, children’s gifts, handbags and accessories.

Here, you’ll find gifts for men, women and children, along with some charming jewellery pieces, cards and lovely wrapping papers to wrap everything up in!

For more information, check out Butterfly via the Melrose Living website.

4. Apples for Jam

This charming little tea room and gift shop is sure to give you a warm welcome, because who doesn’t like stopping off for cake whilst doing a bit of shopping? Whilst you’re enjoying your tea, coffee or hot chocolate, you can admire the lovely little trinkets and decide how many to buy!

I also love that Apples for Jam have various charity events and workshops, so it’s worth paying a visit to their Facebook page to see what else is going on in their diary!

5. Michael Vee Design

A long-established interior decorator, Michael Vee offers a bespoke curtain service, and his shop has one of the largest selections of fabrics and wall coverings you’ll find in the Borders! Here you’ll find furniture, upholstery and lighting, along with accessories, giftware, and antiques.

After all, where else in Melrose promises to always have original 19th century mirrors in stock? If you want to find out more, visit Michael Vee’s page on Melrose Living website.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for unique and quirky gifts, or garden decoration, fine wines or furniture, there’s no shortage of great little shops to keep you occupied in Melrose. The above five are just a sample of what you’ll find on a day out in the town!

Places to eat

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If you’ve ever been in town for Melrose Sevens, you’ll know that supporting your favourite rugby team all day can really work up an appetite. It’s just as well there are plenty of fabulous restaurants and eateries to choose from in the area, with cuisines designed to cater to most tastes.

Below I’ve put together four of the best Melrose 7s eateries, all of which are within walking distance of the Greenyards.

I’ve picked the following restaurants not just because of their locations, but also because they all pride themselves on using fresh, quality local produce.

1. Monte Cassino

If you’re looking for award-winning Italian cuisine, Monte Cassino is the place to be. You’ll find this charming family-owned traditional restaurant at the Old Railway Station in Melrose.

You’ll find the menu is quite varied, with regularly updated daily specials using only the finest ingredients. My personal favourites are the amazing ravioli and the traditional Italian pizza.

The ‘open view’ kitchen means you can watch your meal being cooked in an authentic Italian style, which is always a nice touch as you can see everything is made fresh.

Antonio and his team of friendly staff get lots of local support, and always endeavour to cater to your needs and make your dining experience one to remember.

2. Russell’s restaurant

Owned and run by an award-winning husband and wife team, Russell’s has a great reputation for deli-style delights along freshly baked cakes and scones.

This eatery also caters to specific dietary requirements (such as vegan, gluten-free etc.) so you’ll be sure to find a treat you can enjoy along with your fine tea or coffee.

You can also choose from a selection of locally-sourced home cooked meats, fresh and smoked salmon along with daily Chef’s Specials.

3. The Bistro Bar at Burt’s Hotel

Just a few minutes’ walk from Greenyards, Burt’s Hotel is a family-owned business that has been running for over 40 years, and its restaurant The Bistro Bar is a firm favourite for locals.

The Bistro Bar offers excellent cuisine to suit just about every taste, including a mouth-watering butternut and pomegranate soup, but I just can’t pass on the delicious haddock and chips – the fish is caught locally at Eyemouth.

You’ll also find a wide selection of cask-conditioned ales and a wide array of different wines available to order by the glass.

For more information, check out their restaurant menu. I can also personally vouch for the receptionist!

4. The Town House

And last but not least, the Town House in Melrose is one of the most warm and friendliest places to dine, from the same owners of Burt’s Hotel; the Henderson family.

You’ll find the Town House directly opposite Burt’s, and prides itself on being a hotel with ‘a bit of a twist’. Relax in the ambient colour scheme and stylish surroundings with a glass of wine or wee dram.

The food itself is excellent, and just like Burt’s, caters to almost every taste using fresh, locally-sourced produce whenever possible. For more information on exactly what’s on offer, take a look at the online menu.

Conclusion

Whether you’re here for the Melrose Sevens or just a relaxing weekend away from all your stresses, you’ll be spoilt for choice with so many examples of sumptuous cuisines to choose from.

It doesn’t matter if your tastebuds crave traditional Scottish fare, award-winning Italian cooking, or fabulous deli-style delights, you’ll be sure to find it all here in Melrose. Enjoy!

Events

See the Sevens in style

If you’re into Rugby, the annual Melrose Sevens tournament in April is usually a sight to behold. This is perhaps Melrose’s no.1 claim to fame, with thousands of tourists flocking to the small Borders town every year as part of the Kings of the Sevens competition.

Teams come from all over the world, from places as far afield as South Africa, Japan, Hong Kong and Uruguay. Of course, if you can’t make it, the tournament is usually also broadcast live by the BBC!

Because of the Sevens tournament, there’s usually quite a buzz about the town during the month of April, but I’d advise booking your accommodation early so you’re not disappointed!

Celebrate reading and meet your favourite authors

Yes, the Borders Book Festival is held right here in Melrose every June, and with such a stunning backdrop of Harmony Garden to take in, it’s always a memorable event. You can look forward to a delightful four days full of talks, discussions, live music, food and drink, comedy and family fun!

You can also see whose turn it is to win the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction this year! To find out the full programme, visit the official Borders Book Festival website.

Conclusion

Whether your thing is rugby or literature, you’ll find some fantastic events here in Melrose that are fun for all the family. To see what else is happening in Melrose, visit the official Melrose events page – there could well be something else happening in town during your visit!

Abbey Mill

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Abbeyside

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Hawthorn Cottage

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The Old Paper House

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