Over the last few weeks I’ve been sharing a lot of specific blogs on my trip to the Scottish Borders and Midlothian. I spent 3 days exploring the areas and my itinerary from Scotland Starts Here aimed to show me as much as possible in that time. The three days was filled with activities, towns, nature and covered a vast area all accessible just across the border. The area has a lot to offer, and although I feel like I got to experience a great deal of it I know I barely scratched the surface. So here is an itinerary for 3 days in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian to make the most of your visit. Scotland starts here!
Disclaimer: My entire trip to the Scottish Borders and this 3 day itinerary was put together for me by Scotland Starts Here.
3 Days In The Scottish Borders from Newcastle
I drove, and was very pleasantly surprised to find it only took me an hour and a half to get up to Eyemouth from Newcastle. The drive was easy and to do the full 3 days in the Scottish Borders in the same way you really would need a car. There is public transport and bus routes but I don’t think you would get to see or experience half as much in the three days.
It was so handy to hop in my car and drive on to the next place. Parking was free pretty much fun everywhere, and despite being in the countryside for a lot of the driving the roads were great and it was so lovely driving amongst all the scenery.
I think most people visiting Scotland unless it’s for a city break are looking for a road trip, and it’s definitely the way to go. Even if you’re going for a city break, really make the most of the drive and consider stopping off in this area because there’s so much hidden off the main roads.
Day 1 in the Scottish Borders – Eyemouth, Floors Castle & Gardens, Kelso and an Alpaca Trek
Morning – Eyemouth
I got up to Eyemouth at about 11am, but if you really want to start early then you could get up to St Abbs to explore that town even earlier, and maybe even squeeze in one of the coastal boat trips. From there drive to Eyemouth and park up in the centre by the church or the harbour – both are free.
Have a walk along the pretty little harbour, and if you’re there at weekends you might see the seals in the bay. There is a little hut from which you can feed them too.
From here walk round to Eyemouth Bay, where if the weather allows you can sit and look out to see over the waves crashing in. Get an ice cream from the little parlour called Giacopazzi’s, and continue walking around the bay.
Spot the ‘Widows and Bairns’ statue that commemorates the fishing disaster that occurred here, where. Fisherman lost their lives. The town of Eyemouth itself is pretty small, but its a nice walk amongst the streets, dipping into the local shops, bakers or pubs if you fancy.
Lunch – Oblo
For lunch head to Oblo. They’re right by the harbour, a bar and bistro with a modern style and seriously good seafood. Open all day for snacks and coffee, lunch, dinner, or just a drink with a view.
Book a reservation and enjoy a relaxed lunch. I had the garlic prawns which were unbelievable, and the seasonal cheesecake which you have to try if you still have room.
Afternoon – Kelso and Floors Castle Gardens
The drive from Eyemouth to Kelso is just less than an hour, but it’s a beautiful one through the country roads and scenery. I saw so much wildlife in the fields I drove past so keep a look out.
Once in Kelso again parking in the centre near the market square is free. A quaint little town that’s pretty colourful, wander around and visit Kelso Abbey too.
After spending some time take the really short drive out to Floors Castle Gardens. In the summer you can visit the castle, which is inhabited by the Duke of Roxburghe and his family. You can still visit the walled gardens most of the year and through winter, and they’re beautiful.
In September they were an autumn garden, with a pumpkin patch and low sun over the perfectly kept lawns. There is also a cafe on site for either a takeaway as you walk round, or to sit outside in the shelter of the castle walls on little wrought iron tables. It’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon. If time allows you could also go for a country walk around the estate.
Evening – Alpaca trek at Beirhope Farm
A really fun way to finish off the day is to head to Beirhope Farm, which is just a 25 minute drive from Floors Castle gardens. Another gorgeous drive where you arrive and find yourself in the Cheviot Hills. Once a much bigger farm, Beirhope is now home to a pack of alpacas, and they run a program of alpaca treks throughout the day.
Lynn and her husband who run the farm are both lovely, and a sunset hike up the hills with your new alpaca friend is a lot of fun. There’s also some beautiful views to take in up in the Cheviots.
I’ve wrote a full post with all the details on the alpaca treks at Beirhope, so have a read for all the information.
Stay – Schloss Roxburghe
After your alpaca trek take the 20-25 minute drive to Schloss Roxburghe, and after a busy first of 3 days in the Scottish Borders I promise you won’t be disappointed when you arrive here.
This incredible country manor hotel is impressive from the moment you arrive, set in gorgeous countryside and immaculate grounds. You know when you walk into a hotel and just know from the moment you are going to love it? I had that feeling here.
The first thing that hits you is the cosy smell of the roaring fire in reception as they check you in, confirm your dinner reservation time and give you a quick run down of where the bar, lounges and restaurant are before showing you to your room.
After a freshen up enjoy a drink in the bar followed by exceptional food, a three course dinner in the restaurant.
I absolutely loved this hotel and I’m already planning on when I can go back. It’s worth a trip from Newcastle anyway even if you’re not doing a full 3 days in the Scottish Borders, as it’s just an hours drive from Newcastle.
Read my full post on Schloss Roxburghe including a review of the meal and the hotel rooms here.
Day 2 in the Scottish Borders – Jedburgh, Melrose, Abbotsford House and overnight in Peebles
Breakfast – after a good nights sleep head down to breakfast. Table service and ordering from the menu is the norm now with no breakfast buffet but that suits me just fine. The cooked food is every bit as good quality as dinner, and it’s lovely enjoying your coffee with a view outside.
The hotel has so many activities to offer, including golf, fishing, shooting and hiking, so if you’re an early riser or enjoy outdoor pursuits it’s a great base for it.
Morning – Jedburgh & Melrose
Park in Jedburgh visitor Center car park, which is free and right next to the Abbey. You can’t miss it, the giant gothic abbey overlooks the town and dates back to the 1100’s. Entry is through the Abbey visitor centre and from there you can head up and wander through the one way system.
After exploring the abbey, there’s more to see in Jedburgh town itself, which has a very historical feel to it. Another colourful Scottish town but at one end you’ll find the Castle Jail, and the other Mary Queen of Scots house.
From Jedburgh head to Melrose, which was my favourite town of all the ones I visited. It was slightly bigger and you did have to pay for parking here.
Find Melrose Abbey, but if I were you I’d spend some time in the gardens next door. Priorwood gardens are free to access and they were so quaint and lovely. There was a little woodland trail, a picnic area and an apple orchard with views of the abbey.
The town itself is also very quaint, with some unique independent shops to brows and little cafes if you fancy a coffee or cake.
Lunch – head to Burts Townhouse on the Main Street just down from the Town Hall. It’s in the Townhouse family run hotel but the bistro style restaurant can be booked for anyone to enjoy and is lovely. Have the burger it was amazing!
For more on all four towns mentioned so far – Eyemouth, Kelso, Jedburgh and Melrose – read my blog post with more details on each place.
Afternoon – Abbotsford House & Gardens
Not far from Melrose is another gem of the Scottish Borders, the historic house of the famous Scottish writer and poet Sir Walter Scott. The house has been preserved from when he lived and worked there, with his study, enormous library, Chinese drawing room and armoury all open to the public and as it was.
The grounds of the house are also beautiful, both the looked after gardens and the wider estate with its woodland walks, open landscape and River Tweed flowing through. You can easily spend as much or as little of the afternoon here as you’d like, with a cafe in the visitor centre or a kiosk if you’d prefer to take a picnic into the grounds.
Read my full guide to the house and all there is to see and do at Abbotsford here. Abbotsford House was one of the most surprising parts of my 3 days in the Scottish Borders.
Stay – Cringletie in Peebles
On your drive from Abbotsford to Peebles, take a stop off at one of the impressive viewpoints in the Scottish Borders – Scott’s View or Leaderfoot Viaduct. You can drive up to it and take in the view, it’s clearly signposted from the road.
It’s less than an hours drive on to Peebles, where a stay at Cringletie is what waits for you. This boutique hotel is award winning, and located up in the hills with incredible grounds sweeping in all directions.
Like many Scottish manor houses the turrets make it look more like a castle, but inside it was like a home. I was shown to my room, and talked through the Covid procedures such as how to order breakfast for the next morning.
Dinner is served in the grand dining room, and all the dishes are made from local ingredients many of which are grown in their own walled garden. The food was incredible, like every meal I had up there, and you could hear all the other guests saying the same thing.
A very nice touch from the hotel was the owner coming around between courses to welcome you and check you’re being looked after well. He did it to all the guests and showed an interest in their stay and why they were visiting.
After dinner head to the lounge by the fire where you can have a drink before turning in for the night.
Day 3 – Peebles, The Secret Herb Garden, Rosslyn Chapel and Dalkeith Country Park
Wake up to your third day in Scotland, which will actually be exploring Midlothian. Both the Scottish Borders and Midlothian areas work together to form the vast region covered by Scotland Starts Here, and there is as much to enjoy in Midlothian as there is in its neighbour.
You will wake to the beautiful view out of Cringletie windows over the landscape, it really is breathtaking. Breakfast is served in the dining room and you’re given the same table for your full stay, which will be set up ready with the coffee and juice that you ordered the evening before.
After breakfast take a wander across the grounds to the walled garden, it’s so beautiful and has fabulous views back of Cringletie. A nice way to walk off the breakfast pancakes!
Morning – Peebles and the Secret Herb Garden
If you have time spend the morning exploring Peebles, before driving North towards your next stop of the trip and a real hidden gem of the area – The Secret Herb Garden. On the way stop off at Barony Castle Hotel where there is a big relief map of Scotland, a focal point not to miss.
Arrive at the Secret Herb Garden which is tucked away in the countryside but is much bigger than it might first look. You’ll know you’re there if you’re in the car park with the pigs watching you!
The Secret Herb Garden is exactly as it sounds, a herb garden and nursery with a huge range of herbs, plants and produce that is all grown right there. The gardens themselves have everything, including a pumpkin patch, seasonal sections, beehives and the resident animals.
The nursery is also filled with plants and herbs, all of which have incredible smells and multiple uses. I was given a tour of the whole place and it was really interesting. They have an on site drying room for the herbs, a visitors cafe and even a gin distillery where they make Old Curiosity gin.
They make various flavoured gins on site, and you can usually do a tour with a tasting however due to Covid these are currently on hold. It was so interesting to see how it all works literally from junipers and flavours being grown out in the gardens to becoming bottled up gin. I came away with three bottles and it’s all delicious.
Enjoy lunch at The Secret Herb Garden cafe. It’s a very relaxing area amongst the herb nursery, and you can enjoy a drink and some food from the kitchen in the cafe after a wander around. Of course nearly everything on the menu is made from the things they’ve grown on site.
Afternoon – Rosslyn Chapel and Dalkeith Country Park
You might have heard of Rosslyn Chapel if you’ve read the Da Vinci Code or seen the film. You can visit it just a short drive away in the town of Rosslyn. You need to book as it’s obviously really popular, so you get a specific time slot.
Enter the visitor centre and they will check you in before letting you through to the Chapel. Built in the 15th Century the small Chapel is so ornate and detailed. The ceiling is carved with flowers and there are plaques all the way round explaining the different features on the walls and ceiling. Even if you aren’t religious it’s worth visiting.
After your time slot at the Chapel, take a walk around to the ruins of Rosslyn Castle. It’s a short walk to what is left of the castle, but the views when you reach the ruins across the landscape are beautiful.
Afternoon – Dalkeith Country Park
For your last afternoon in the Scottish Borders, and a leisurely end to the trip visit Dalkeith Country Park, a stop off on the drive back down to England. The country park consists of landscaped gardens, country walks and the Restoration Yard.
There are a few shops and restaurants, a kids play area, outside seating and The Kitchen, a gorgeous quirky little place where you can grab coffee and a cake. Call it fuel for the way home.
That concludes the full itinerary for 3 days in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian. Before I went on this trip I had no idea how much the Scottish Borders has to offer and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
What might often seem like a countryside landscape as I’ve driven up to Edinburgh, is actually a place filled with unique towns, beautiful hotels, and a lot of culture that you might not even know is there until you get off the main roads. Having experienced it I would love to see more, as I know I barely scratched the surface.
Disclaimer: My trip to the Scottish Borders and this 3 day itinerary was put together for me by Scotland Starts Here.
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