Escape the festival: Step back into rich history

The Azalea Terrace at Dawyck Botanic Garden
The Azalea Terrace at Dawyck Botanic Garden

The Scottish Borders is an area filled with romance and drama. From the Common Ridings to the Jedburgh Ba’ Game, its rich traditions are waiting to be discovered.

And its stately homes – Floors, Abbotsford, Manderston, Mellerstain, Thirlestane, Paxton, Monteviot, Traquair and Bowhill – reflect its rich and fruitful lands.

The Ridings and the Ba’ Games might be over for this year, but the towns, villages and estates still make interesting destinations.

At Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott, you learn that the 19th-century novelist was a business partner of the artist William Turner.

A visit to the house near Melrose always reveals much about Scott’s personal life but this year its exhibition explores the twists and turns of the relationship between these two influential figures in British history.

Paxton House, near Berwick- upon-Tweed, is another stately home to explore. Coinciding with the 300th anniversary of Thomas Chippendale’s birth, it highlights its important collection of his furniture, which was made especially for the house between 1774 and 1791.

For something more modern, each Tuesday this month Paxton House hosts pop-up markets with the traders from St Abbs showing off their produce and crafts.

Gardens flourish in the rich Border landscapes. If you enjoy a stroll round the Royal Botanic Garden in Inverleith, then try Dawyck Botanic Garden, near Peebles.

There is one of the world’s finest arboreta and its seasonal displays of exotic and native plants are breathtaking.

Another garden worth a visit is Monteviot, at Ancrum, near Jedburgh. The estate is the home of the Marquess of Lothian and the former MP Michael Ancram has lavished great effort on creating truly stunning grounds around his house on the site overlooking the river.

For the energetic, request the key from the Estate Office and climb Peniel Heugh.

At the top stands the Waterloo Monument, a plain circular 150ft stone tower, crowned by a wooden platform built by the 6th Marquess of Lothian in the 1820s.

The 200-plus steps are worth the effort as you can see for miles, with the Eildon Hills on one side and the Berwickshire coast on the other.

Looking for an event to go to in the Borders? Here are some suggestions:

Innerleithen Music Festival, August 17-19

A feast of entertainment by musicians, singers and dancers. It includes De Niro’s Big Birthday Bash on the Friday, with performances by several Borders bands. The Saturday line-up sees a performance by groups from Nomad Beat Community Music School.

History Comes Alive at Traquair House, August 18 or 19

This family-friendly event in a picturesque setting will include a Jacobite camp and a dramatic entrance by Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Mellerstain House, until October 1

The grounds are home to the open-air Borders Sculpture Park and Hilary Jack’s The Messenger is on display.The exhibition has four site-specific pieces inspired by the building’s rich history, including a 25-metre wide drawing on the lawn.