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The Scottish Borders

Scottish Borders - Introduction

In modern parlance the Scottish Borders refers to one of the 32 local government areas of Scotland. It was formed in 1975 when the counties of Berwickshire, Peebleshire, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and part of Midlothian were merged together. Historically this area was part of the troubled Borders region which included the entire border areas of southern Scotland and northern England. The area is one of the least populated areas of Scotland, partly due to the upland nature of the terrain and partly to do with the over 450 years of incessant strife and conflict that afflicted the region during the Scottish Wars of Independence and the period of the infamous Border Reivers.

Scottish Borders Gallery: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Dun Rig and Glensax
Stob Law in the Upper Tweedale National Scenic Area
Enjoying the view north towards the Pentlands from Stob Law
The trig point on Hundlehope Heights looking towards the Moorfoot Hills
Newby Kipps
Melrose Abbey
Leaderfoot Viaduct
The River Tweed
The view indicator on the highest of the Eildon Hills
Eildon North Hill in the Eildon and Leaderfoot NSA

The Scottish Borders contains much of the eastern half of the Southern Uplands including the Moffat Hills, Culter Hills, Manor Hills, Ettrick Hills, Eildon Hills and Moorfoot Hills. In addition the area includes part of the Cheviot range which forms much of the Anglo-Scottish border. 38 of the 89 Donalds (Scottish hills over 2,000ft below the Highland faultline) can be found in the Borders. Apart from the miles of rolling hill country there is much else to attract walkers including many sites of historical interest including castles, peel towers and the ruins abbeys such as those at Dryburgh, Jedburgh and Melrose.

The area is almost entirely drained by the 97 mile long River Tweed which, for its last 20 miles or so, forms the border between England and Scotland before it flows out into the sea at Berwick. A number of the most important towns in the region, including Peebles, Galashiels, Melrose, Kelso and Coldstream are to be found along the banks of the Tweed. All the other important rivers such as Manor Water, Gala Water, Leader Water, Ettrick Water and Teviot Water are all tributaries of the Tweed.

This weather forecast is generated by the Met Office Weather Widget

The Borders contains two of the 40 designated National Scenic Areas (NSAs) in Scotland, the Upper Tweedale NSA to the west of Peebles and the Eildon and Leaderfoot NSA which includes Melrose and the Eildon Hills. Both are fairly small and based on first impressions I'm surprised not more of the area is covered. I'm fairly sure that were it in England much of the area would at least be of AONB status, if not a National Park. It is interesting to note that whilst the Scottish Cheviots don't even attain NSA status the English Cheviots are largely within the Northumberland National Park. Perhaps the relatively little NSA coverage in southern Scotland as a whole is a reflection of the surfeit of upland areas that Scotland possesses.

My first real visit to the Scottish Borders was in the summer of 2012. I was hugely impressed. As well as two trips up to the Eildon Hills I also had a full day out on a long horseshoe walk above Glensax in the Manor Hills. Based at Melrose I also enjoyed a family walk along the banks of the Tweed as well as visits to Thirlestane Castle near Lauder and the ruins of both Dryburgh and Melrose Abbey. It was on Dun Rig as the skies cleared and I could see all the major hill groups of the Borders that I realised just how much worthwhile scenery there is up there to explore. It is certainly an area that I'm planning on returning to in the future.

The Scottish Borders