Escape the festival: Break for the Borders and the great outdoors

Melrose Abbey was founded by King David I in 1136, as the first Cistercian monastery in Scotland.
Melrose Abbey was founded by King David I in 1136, as the first Cistercian monastery in Scotland.

It has never been easier to explore the scenic Scottish Borders thanks to the Borders Railway and an estimated 35,900 journeys a year are linked to tourism, according to Transport Scotland.

It takes just under an hour from Waverley Station to Tweedbank on the railway, which celebrates its third birthday next month.

With services running half-hourly, the line provides easy access to the region.

The mill town of Innerleithen is a half-hour bus journey from Galashiels and is a good place to explore.

There’s access to fishing on the River Tweed, a golf club and not only does it have its own downhill and cross-country mountain bike trails, it is also close to the centre at Glentress.

Innerleithen is also near Traquair House, Scotland’s oldest continually inhabited house, dating back to the 1100s, when it was used as a hunting lodge by Scottish kings. The 100 acres of grounds include a maze and one of many walled gardens that are open to the public in the Borders.

As well as impressive gardens and stately homes, the Borders has some of the most scenic routes for walking.

Melrose is about one and a half miles from Tweedbank station and marks the start of the beautiful 62.5 mile-long St Cuthbert’s Way, which winds through St Boswells and Jedburgh to Northumberland’s coast.

A shorter walk might include Melrose Abbey, the Trimontium Roman fort at Newstead and the Leaderfoot Viaduct. In fact, you can join a child-friendly guided walk of this route from the Three Hills Heritage Centre in Melrose on 21 August.

With rolling hills, rivers and towering forests, the region is the quintessential destination for lovers of the outdoors.

The Borders Railway offers access to some of south-east Scotland’s most popular visitor attractions.

Galashiels: With a number of independent shops in the old town centre, Galashiels has long been the place where locals go for their provisions or to meet friends at one of the coffee shops.

The 16th-century Old Gala House is a top attraction, with fascinating history galleries and spaces for varied arts and crafts exhibitions.

Galashiels is 55 minutes from Waverley and opposite is the bus station, with links to many of the surrounding towns and villages.

Tweedbank: The last station on the line holds endless possibilities for travellers as it is within walking distance of the pretty market town of Melrose.

It is also home to Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford, which is surrounded by spectacular grounds that inspired some of the novelist’s best works.

The final stop of the railway is just under an hour from Waverley and taxis are available to Abbotsford.

Newtongrange: Life at this former pit village is well-documented at the National Mining Museum, which is less than a ten-minute walk from the station.

Based at the Lady Victoria Colliery, the museum has guides who have lived the experience of the Lothians pits and will bring the miners’ stories to life.

The rail trip from Waverley to Newtongrange takes just over half an hour.