Galashiels is on Gala Water near its junction with the River Tweed, 33 miles (53 km) south-southeast of Edinburgh. The part of the town on the west bank of the Gala lies within the historic county of Selkirkshire, while the east bank belongs to the historic county of Roxburghshire. Woollen manufacture dates from the close of the 16th century, and the Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design (formerly Scottish College of Textiles) is the central institution for the industry. There are also other light industries. Galashiels was originally a village built for the accommodation of pilgrims to Melrose Abbey, 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast, and was designated a burgh of barony in 1599. Nearby are two homes of the novelist Sir Walter Scott: Ashiestiel (where he lived from 1804–12) and Abbotsford (which he purchased in 1811). Also nearby is an ancient Pictish earthwork, the Catrail, or Picts’ Work Ditch Pop.
Robert Burns wrote two poems about Galashiels, "Sae Fair Her Hair" and "Braw Lads". The latter is sung by the townsfolk each year at the Braw Lads Gathering. Sir Walter Scott built his home, Abbotsford, just across the River Tweed from Galashiels. The Sir Walter Scott Way, a long-distance path from Moffat to Cockburnspath, passes through Galashiels. There is some largely good-hearted rivalry between some of the Galashiels townsfolk and those of other border towns, particularly Hawick, the next largest town in the Scottish Borders. Galashiels' citizens often refer to their rival as dirty Hawick while the 'Teries' retort that Galashiels's residents are pail merks, supposedly because their town was the last to be plumbed into the mains water system and so residents had to rely on buckets as toilets.
Galashiels was also home to the author of the famous Scottish song, "Coulters Candy". Robert Coltart was a weaver in the town, but also made confectionery in nearby Melrose. The song was created as an advertisement and hence was renamed as "Sugar Candy" when played by the BBC. The song is possibly better known by the first line of its chorus - "Ally, bally, ally bally bee". Coltart died in 1890.
The 1985 Marillion hit single Kayleigh was partially inspired by events that took place in Galashiels as the band's lead singer Fish spent some time in the town in his earlier years. In 2012 the Scottish Borders Council undertook work to revamp the Market Square with lyrics of the song inscribed into the paving slabs. Fish officially reopened the square on completion later that year.
Old Gala House - which boasts a museum and art gallery as well as beautifully landscaped gardens. Set in beautifully landscaped grounds near the centre of Galashiels, Old Gala House is an impressive building dating back to 1583. Once home to the Lairds of Galashiels, the house is now a vibrant museum and gallery which tells the story of the town and its people. It also hosts a seasonal programme of changing exhibitions and events along with a cafe, gift shop and stunning gardens. Old Gala House is available to hire as a venue. Please note that whilst the Museum & Gallery at Old Gala house has now closed for the season until Easter 2020, this beautiful building remains open as a venue for hire using the contact details listed.
Bank Street Gardens – they are a magnificent sight in springtime when the cherry trees blossom. The gardens were gifted to Galashiels Town Council shortly after the Second World War. They were laid out in conformity with proposals put forward by Alfred T. Harrison, Superintendent of Parks with Edinburgh Corporation. Today, the gardens play an important role in attracting visitors to the town and they are planted out twice each year with long, sweeping colourful displays set within the well-maintained lawns.
Gala Rugby Football Club - where you can cheer on Gala RFC as they take on rugby teams from throughout the country.
Waverly Line Artwork - Hand screen printed artwork by Jane Fleming, commissioned by Scottish Ministers to mark the 200th anniversary of Sir Walter Scott's 'Waverley' novels and the return of the Waverley Line. Individual posters for each station also hand screen printed by Jane can be viewed at each stop down the line.
Pavilion Cinema – a day that your children will love! A day out where they can tuck into popcorn as they are transported to another world at a family film. The Pavilion is a family operated independent 4 screen cinema serving the population of Galashiels and the wider Scottish Borders community.
Mojos Soft Play – where children can have fun playing while you relax with a hot cup of coffee and a tasty slice of home baking. They have a separate designated soft play area for the toddlers whilst the bigger kids play on the main-frame. There is a double lane rainbow slide which seems to be very popular with the kids and adults. You can pop down and have a race around our go-kart track. Kids and adults love them as the cars are designed for 2 people to ride so even the smallest of children can enjoy them whilst the adults drive.
There are plenty of ways to experience Galashiels’ beautiful countryside too. Why not practice your swing on a golf course, such as Galashiels Golf Course or Torwoodlee Golf Course.
The Salmon Inn – their accommodation in Galashiels is a family run traditional and welcoming Inn which offers exceptional food and atmosphere, ‘renowned in the Scottish Borders’. It also offers a great range of spirits, wines, local real ales and jam jar cocktails that cannot be missed. It is hard to disguise their pride when it comes to their beautifully designed, modern, luxurious pub inn & accommodation in Galashiels. It is precisely the contemporary hospitality and stylish minimalism that its guests will simply find easy to relax in.
Maplehurst Boutique Guest House - is the perfect introduction to the Scottish Borders. You’ll find a hidden gem with a special foodie twist, thanks to Peter’s chef skills and passion for cooking and fine dining. Join them for gourmet hosted dinners, enjoy the fantastic wine cellar, and join our mailing list for updates on the Maplehurst Cooking Academy and Fine Dining Club.
Nachos Fiesta - bright and lively, Nachos Fiesta brings a South American buzz to Scotland. Blending hearty home cooking with authentic Mexican recipes, the Nachos Fiesta menu presents a flavour-filled feast, with fajitas and nachos heading the selection.
A fun and family-friendly vibe at Nachos Fiesta sees Rambo's chipolatas and Mama's lasagne served for 'trainee adults'.
The Scottish Borders are the perfect place for walkers all year round – whether it’s a gentle stroll or something more demanding. There are some 1500 miles of dedicated walking routes in the Scottish Borders where you’ll often find yourself following in the footsteps of famous names from history. The borders have 6 national walks including over a third of the 212 mile Southern Upland Way and at Kirk Yetholm, the official fishing point for the 268 mile Pennine Way.
Gala Hill and Langlee Woodland - a walk around the town that passes through Gala Policies, Gala Hill and Langlee Woodland. This route follows the Southern Upland Way in parts. Langlee Woodland and Community Woodland (planted in 1997) provide a backdrop of significant landscape value to the north side of Galashiels; they also provide good biodiversity. Gala Policies were bought by the then Selkirkshire County Council in 1974 and provide a charming woodland park.
Gala Policies - a very short circular through these charming former policy woodlands of what was New Gala House. In 1974 the then Selkirkshire County Council purchased the woodlands for the enjoyment of the people. Being former policies, the park contains both native and introduced tree species including giant redwoods.
Hollybush Circular - This circular route follows the Southern Upland Way from Gala Policies over hill farmland then returns to the town along the River Tweed. The River Tweed rises in the Lowther Hills and flows for 100 miles before emptying into the sea at Berwick-upon-Tweed. It is Scotland’s 4th largest river.
Enjoy a day of cycling? If you don’t have your own bike (or haven’t brought it with you) you can always rent a bike from the cycle hire shop in Galashiels and have it delivered wherever is convenient for you. The Scottish Borders boasts hundreds of square miles of forest trails and woodland tracks which are visited by mountain bike enthusiasts and cyclists from far and wide. There are many off-road trails for beginners and families, or for the adventurous rider, the cross country bike trains which have steep climbs and exhilarating downhill sections.
All angles will have heard of the River Tweed, famous for its salmon and trout fishing. Also, there are several rivers and lochs for which a permit to fish can be obtained.
Gala Angling Association - proudly offers excellent fishing for Brown Trout and Grayling in the very heart of the Scottish Borders. The association permit allows fishing on approximately 13 miles of the River Tweed (with the exclusion of several reserved areas), the River Ettrick and approximately 5 miles of the Gala Water. All the areas that are reserved are marked with notice boards and can be seen on their beat map. They are indebted to the following estates who permits us to fish on Tweed: Ashiestiel, Yair, Fairnilee, Sunderland Hall, Faldonside, Abbotsford and Lowood. Also, Meigle Farm, Rink Farm and Laggan Properties (Boleside), Upper Faldonside, Gala Water and Torwoodlee Estate. Their local membership stands at around 100 and we have the same number of visitor members. They are members of the Federation of Borders Angling Associations and the TTGI (Tweed Trout & Grayling Initiative). They also have a representative on the River Tweed Commissioners General Council.
Despite the town's relatively low population, the early 2000s saw many new developments, including Asda, Boots pharmacy, Halfords, Marks & Spencer, Matalan, McDonald's, Next, Subway fast-food outlet and Tesco Extra. Most of these are on former mill and industrial estate sites, while other disused mills have been converted to living accommodation.
The famous Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote two poems about Galashiels, "Sae Fair Her Hair" and "Braw Lads". The latter is sung by some of the townsfolk each year at the Braw Lads Gathering.
The town is home to the Glasite church, in danger of being lost, but still standing sandwiched between mills and shop buildings on High Street, Botany Lane and Roxburgh Street.
Netherdale is home to Gala RFC and Gala Fairydean Rovers, with the football and rugby stadiums adjoining each other at one end. The football club's main stand was built in 1963 to designs by Peter Womersley, based in nearby Gattonside. The cantilevered concrete structure, in the Brutalist style, is now protected as a Category A listed building.
In 1969, the historic Waverley Line which connected the Scottish Borders to the national rail network was closed as part of a wider series of cuts to British Railways. The closure led to a campaign for a return of rail to the region that never diminished. Following years of campaigning, in 2006, the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament, which authorised a partial restoration of the service. The new Borders Railway, which links Galashiels with Edinburgh, saw four new stations built in Midlothian and three in the Scottish Borders. For most of the route, the original line was followed with 30 miles (50 kilometres) of new railway line built. The project is currently estimated to cost £294 million and was completed in September 2015, with the formal opening on 9 September by the Queen. Trains from Galashiels railway station run every half-hour going down to hourly in the evening and on Sundays. Journey times between Tweedbank and Edinburgh take less than one hour.
The town also has a recently opened Interchange building which replaces the old bus station and is also situated next to the railway station. It has a café, allowing travellers and commuters to relax prior to their bus or train journey, and upstairs has office space which can be leased to businesses and organisations. It also has full toilets and baby changing facilities, and a travel helpdesk.
From Galashiels, you could join the National Cycle Network Route 1 and travel west to Innerleithen and Peebles, or venture east to Melrose, Newton St Boswells or Kelso. The 4 Abbeys cycle route is another great option, taking in 55 miles of glorious countryside and as well as the Scottish Borders’ four famous abbeys, namely Melrose Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey, Kelso Abbey and Jedburgh Abbey.