ambling or action - something for everyone
Rich and varied in its history and culture, the Scottish Borders has much to explore, from romantic abbey ruins and magnificent stately homes, to the local towns' Common Riding festivals and Rugby 7 tournaments. And with Edinburgh just over an hour’s drive or train ride away, a formidable array of city delights is within easy striking distance.
abbeys, stately homes & gardens
Scottish Borders culture and history comes in all shapes and sizes, from Roman remains to abbeys, castles and towers to picturesque towns and gardens. Four ruined abbeys Dryburgh, Jedburgh, Melrose and Kelso tell the area’s religious history, while castles such as Thirlestane and Floors, and large stately homes such as Traquair, Abbotsford, Bowhill and Paxton showcase rich splendour and stories dating back to the thirteenth century.
Local folklore and tales of magic in the Scottish Borders have inspired writers such as Sir Walter Scott, James Hogg and John Buchan, for centuries. Trace their literary footsteps, explore their homes and soak up the views, landscapes and rural communities that stimulated their greatest works.
The Borders Book Festival, one of Scotland’s premier literary events, grows in strength and stature every year attracting authors, poets, musicians and comedians from around the world. Or if you just fancy a browse around a lovely bookshop with a locally roasted cup of coffee then Mainstreet Trading in St Boswells has a seat waiting for you. And perfect for a rainy day, The Bookworm, a fantastic little children’s bookshop in Selkirk holds story telling sessions and art and craft events in school holidays.
the Textile Trail
The Scottish Borders is home to Scotland’s historic textile towns thanks to its soft water rivers, glorious natural colours and landscapes. These were the lifeblood and inspiration for the traditional weaving and textile industries. Today, towns such as Hawick, Galashiels and Selkirk produce some of the world’s finest tartans, tweeds and cashmere and world-renowned names like Pringle, Belinda Robertson, Lochcarron and Lyle and Scott were born here. Many of the mills do visitor tours – just make sure you leave enough time to shop at the end!
If time allows then no stay at Aikwood Tower should pass without a day trip to the historic city of Edinburgh, one of Europe's most beautiful capitals. It has a huge variety of attractions - The Castle, Zoo, National Museum of Scotland, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Royal Yacht Britannia and Jupiter Art Land to name a few. But it's also small enough for you to explore and wander around on foot. The Edinburgh Festival, the world's leading arts, culture and comedy festival, which takes place throughout August is not to be missed!
Breweries & Distilleries
Beer was first brewed in the Scottish Borders at Traquair House in the sixteenth century when Mary, Queen of Scots visited. Today, the rise in popularity for craft beer has led to a local revival and interest in traditional beer, brewed by small, independent breweries. The Born in the Borders Brewery is a multi-award winning microbrewery where you can do a self-guided tour or arrange special group events. Try a Growler (three and a half pints) in Rutherford's Micropub in Kelso, or pay a visit to the Tempest Brewery shop and buy a few bottles to enjoy back at Aikwood Tower.
If gin is your tipple, then Lilliard Gin is a small batch gin, handcrafted in a tiny copper still, using ingredients found and foraged in the Scottish Borders. The Ginnery runs regular gin tasting sessions. And we’ve been waiting almost 200 years but whisky will very soon be flowing again in the Borders with the opening of two new distilleries!
A PLACE For comfort
Without a doubt, Aikwood Tower offers some of the best luxury self-catered accommodation in Scotland for ten guests. Our 500 year old history combines with five-star interiors and contemporary, boutique accommodation to surprise and charm you in every room. And you will find your new favourite place in the world in front of our roaring Great Hall fire.