Visiting Melrose
Accommodation, things to see / do



Melrose is an ancient settlement on the south side of the River Tweed. The original Columban monastery was founded nearby in the 7th century at Old Melrose. It was burned in 839 during the wars between the Scots and Angles, and, although it was rebuilt, it was deserted in the mid-11th century. In 1136 an abbey was founded a little higher up the Tweed. The abbey was frequently attacked; it was destroyed in 1322 and again in 1385 and was finally reduced to ruin by the English in 1545. In 1822 the ruins were repaired under the supervision of the novelist Sir Walter Scott,  whose country home was located at nearby Abbotsford. The work was carried out for the owner, the Duke of Buccleuch, who subsequently presented the restored ruins to the nation. The heart of Robert the Bruce, the Scottish national leader who won the throne in 1306 as Robert I, was buried at the high altar.

The town of Melrose grew and prospered under the auspices of the Abbey. Since the death of Sir Walter Scott (1832), Melrose, with its literary and historical associations, scenic valley setting, and renown as the birthplace of rugby sevens, has attracted many tourists. Near Newstead, an eastern suburb, is the site of the ancient Roman fort of Trimontium, marked today by a heritage centre.

Things to see

Melrose Abbey - St Mary's Abbey, Melrose is a partly ruined monastery of the Cistercian order in Melrose, Roxburghshire, in the Scottish Borders. It was founded in 1136 by Cistercian monks at the request of King David I of Scotland and was the chief house of that order in the country until the Reformation. Admire the graceful architecture of the abbey church, among Britain’s finest church architecture.

Commendator's House Museum - Visit the Commendator’s House Museum to see a rich collection of medieval objects found in the abbey cloister. The Museum lays claim to having the largest collection of medieval artefacts on display anywhere in Scotland.

Priorwood Garden – Run by the National Trust for Scotland, Priorwood has an apple orchard which cultivates many historic varieties and Scotland’s only dried flower garden. Explore the rustic walled garden an enviable setting in the ancient precinct of Melrose Abbey

Harmony Gardens – The second garden run by the National Trust for Scotland in the area. Harmony Gardens is a beautiful walled garden with magnificent views over the abbey and Eildon Hills. As its name suggests, at Harmony Garden nature is perfectly in tune. Manicured lawns, scented borders and fruit and vegetable beds spread out from a beautifully proportioned Georgian manor house.

Things to do

The Roman Heritage Centre - The are a around Melrose has been inhabited for thousands of years. The Roman army arrived in AD79 or 80 and built a major fort nearby named Trimontium, 'Place of the Three Hills'. The Three Hills Roman Heritage Centre houses the Trimontium Museum which is dedicated to Roman life in Scotland. This is the area and the starting point for a four-mile circular walk taking in the key Roman sites including those at Newstead. Visitors to the museum can see artefacts from the original excavation at the beginning of the last century, including tools used by soldiers to build the fort that look exactly like their modern counterparts.

Golf - Melrose Golf Club is a beautiful 9-hole golf course nestled at the foot of the Eildon Hills with scenic views of the surrounding countryside. Established in 1880, the par-70 course has developed into a popular golf course with both members and visitors.The tree-lined fairways, totalling 5,545 yards, offer a challenge for all golfing abilities. Favourable comments received from the Stephen Gallacher Foundation in 2015 called the course “one of the hidden gems of Scottish golf.”

Eildon Hills -Melrose sits at the foot of the triple peaks of the Eildon Hills, one of the most distinctive single landmarks in the Scottish Borders. Whether you choose to walk the Eildons, or simply look up and admire this iconic feature, they offer stunning views and superb photo opportunities. For walkers, the paths are very well marked and maintained, and all three peaks can be walked easily in one day starting from the town.

Abbotsford House - Abbotsford is the ancestral home of Sir Walter Scott, the 19th century novelist and poet of "Waverley", "Ivanhoe",and "Lady of the Lake". Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford remains today as one of the most famous houses in the world; it reflects, almost as no other place, the mind, enthusiasms and preoccupations of the man who built it.Constructed on the ample proceeds of a literary career without parallel, it is an enduring monument to the tastes, talents and achievements of its begetter. There is something for tourists and locals alike, with a Family Play Trail, Gift shop, Sir Walter Scott Exhibition and Ochiltree’s Cafe.

Eat and drink

Burts Hotel - With dishes made from the finest local top quality ingredients, it’s no wonder Burts Hotel is renowned for its excellent cuisine. The Bistro Bar’s extensive lunch and supper menu will satisfy every taste. A favourite place to eat for many, Burts offers reliable, lovely food.

The Hoebridge - A family-run restaurant in the Scottish Borders opened in 2015. With a focus on creating a small seasonal menu that changes each month, customers are served the freshest local produce available.  Everything they can is made by hand: from bread, pastries and ice creams to pasta, pickles and preserves. What they don't make themselves is sourced from some of the best producers in Scotland – Shaw's and Hardies mill for local meats, fish from Campbell Brothers, I.J. Mellis cheese, Luckie Coffee and beer from Tempest Brewery.

Seasons (formerly Chapters) - Seasons' menus always feature carefully sourced local produce from hand picked local suppliers meaning that they genuinely reflect what is available throughout the changing seasons. With a passion for good food they have the ability to provide winning menus which always feature delicious seasonal ingredients. This extends to Roger curing his own meats and making all his own breads, pickles and jams from scratch.


Melrose is an excellent centre for walking and the main features are the Eildon Hills and River Tweed. However there are many other local places to explore; Cauldshiels Loch; Abbotsford Estate and Visitor Centre; the hills above Gattonside; the Bridges over the Tweed at Leaderfoot; and the Leader Water. These paths will help you discover more about this beautiful part of the Borders.

River Tweed Circuit - Explore the interesting buildings, Abbey and shops of Melrose before following both banks of the mighty River Tweed, returning via the Chain Bridge, a spectacular suspension footbridge. This 5.5km route starts and finishes at the impressive Abbey.

Darnick and Gattonside - An interesting short circular passing through Melrose and two of its neighbouring settlements, Darnick and Gattonside; includes two crossings over the River Tweed on Lowood and Chain Bridges. The Chain Bridge was built in 1826 with a restriction placed on it that only 8 people were allowed on it at any one time;swinging the bridge was an offence.

House byres - A moderate circular taking you up to the pretty Byres Loch and returning on the Southern Upland Way along the River Tweed and over the Chain Bridge. The Chain Bridge was built in 1826 with a restriction placed on it that only 8 people were allowed on it at any onetime; swinging the bridge was an offence. Gattonside is situated on a southslope so the monks had their orchards here.

Cauldshiels Loch and The River Tweed - A varied walk starting from Melrose and climbing through newly planted woodland and farmland to tranquil Cauldshiels Loch before descending to the River Tweed which is followed back to Melrose. The route passes Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, which could be visited as a detour and is 14.25km.

St Cuthbert's Way - St Cuthbert's Way runs from Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumberland in England. The route links several sites associated with St Cuthbert. The walk passes through attractive and varied countryside throughout its length; it can be done in four days or taken at a more leisurely pace by building in additional stopovers or taking a stage at a time. Leaving the stunning Abbey and stone buildings of Melrose, the first section of the St Cuthbert's Way climbs between the Eildon Hills, crosses farmland and follows the mighty River Tweed before an ancient Roman road leads to the finish at the Harestanes Centre near Ancrum.


Melrose is perfect for a relaxing break, but if you want to be a little more active, it has a range of world-class activities right on its doorstep.

The 4 Abbeys – The 4 Abbeys is a 55 mile circular route linking the four main abbeys in the Scottish Borders at Melrose, Dryburgh, Kelso and Jedburgh. The route follows mainly quiet roads, although short stretches on ‘A’ roads are unavoidable, a scenic route that takes in many historic interest points in the region either on the route or close by. The route is moderate with a couple of steep but fairly short hills. It is normally tackled in a clockwise direction but can be done either way.

Scott’s View and Dryburgh – This route passes by Trimontium, an outpost of the Roman Empire and the Leaderfoot Viaduct before climbing towards Scott’s View, where you can pause and enjoy the view of the River Tweed as Sir Walter Scott used to. The route loops around the Bemersyde Moss Nature Reserve before arriving in Dryburgh where you can pause to see the Abbey. Cross the River Tweed and head towards Newtown St Boswells before passing by the Rhymer’s Stone and returning towards Melrose. This 13.5 mile-long route is mostly low level with some climbing on trail and/ or public roads.

Abbotsford - This short route has a short climb out of Melrose before dropping steeply through woods to Abbotsford,former house of Sir Walter Scott. It returns to Melrose via Tweedbank and along‘Black Path’. The route is only 5 miles with minimal traffic and some traffic free.


Salmon - The river Tweed that flows through Melrose is one of the most famous salmon fishing rivers in the world.Fishermen and women travel here from far and wide for the chance to catch a beautiful Atlantic Salmon as they migrate up the river from the sea. Fly-fishing is the main method used but some parts of the river also allow spinning. The river is privately owned by lots of different landowners and anglers must purchase a fishing permit from the landowner. This process is facilitated by the two main websites, Fish Tweed and Tweed Beats, where permits can be purchased and more information on the river can be found. Prices for salmon fishing generally start at around £50 per person per day but can rise to several hundreds of pounds for the most productive stretches at the best time of year. The salmon fishing season is from the beginning of February to the end of November and fish can be caught throughout the season. However, the main runs of Salmon usually occur in March–May for the spring run, August for the Summer run and September – November for the autumn run.

Trout and Grayling - Trout and Grayling fishing on the Tweed and its tributaries and local lochs can be excellent and is much more affordable than Salmon fishing. Prices start from £4 per day. Trout and Grayling fishing permits on the Tweed are usually organised by local fishing clubs and are available to buy from various shops and post offices. Have a look at the Fish Tweed website for more details of the different stretches and where to buy permits. Permits for the Melrose Angling Association stretch can be purchased from the Spar shop on the High Street in Melrose.


Unique Local Shops - Unlike many towns across the UK, Melrose is proud to have a wide range of fabulous independent shops. From local food suppliers including bakers, butchers, fishmonger and greengrocer, selling the best of Borders and Scottish produce, to a range of unique gift and craft shops to treat yourself, family or friends and bespoke boutiques selling clothes (including our world-renowned knitted cashmere) and shoes. Melrose is a genteel Border town where independent shops thrive: it harks back to an earlier era before high streets were colonised by chain stores, and it’s all the more beautiful and interesting to visit as a result.

Local annual events

Melrose Sevens - Every year on the second Saturday in April Melrose takes on a carnival- like atmosphere when the rugby sevens event takes place. The event is the oldest rugby sevens competition in the world, dating back to 1883 and is now an action- packed international tournament, which regularly attracts teams from New Zealand, South Africa, France and Portugal.

Borders Book Festival - Every year in June, Melrose is the host to the annual Borders Book Festival. Taking place in the National Trust's Georgian Harmony Garden, the Borders Book Festival attracts world-class literary, sport and comedy figures.The 2019 line up included David Coulthard, Kate Humble, Ruth Davidson and more.It is four wonderful days of talks, discussions, food and drinks, live music,comedy and more for all the family.

Melrose Festival - The annual festival at Melrose combines all the typical elements of the traditional border summer celebrations with a Common Riding, Festival Queen, sports and fancy dress among other events leading up to a ceremony in the picturesque setting of Melrose Abbey. Common Ridings are a boundary marking custom on horseback. They are mainly held at locations across the Scottish Borders, the Ridings have become major festivals and a great day out! The Rideout at Melrose is on the Monday, leaving Greenyards at 6pm and returning to town by around 9.30 while the Queen is crowned on Thursday at Melrose Abbey. Saturday sees the Tour of Ceremonies to places of historic interest around the Melrose area. The final ceremony of the Tour takes place at Melrose Abbey, where almost 900 years of history are recalled when the granting of the foundation charter by David I is re-enacted. Children’s Sports and a Festival Dinner conclude the week‘s festivities.

The Eildon Hill Race - For over 50 years the traditional event has taken place in late June as part of the week long Melrose Festival. The route, which attracts many hill runners, takes in all three Eildon hills.

Local transport links

Melrose is situated ten miles, a 22 minute car journey, from Dignity and Time. Melrose is  well served with regular bus services to and from a number of towns in the Scottish Borders, with the X62 Border Bus service running from Clovenfords, Dignity and Time's local village, to Melrose.


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