The Borders are one of the most fascinating places in Scotland.
Not only for the beautiful rolling countryside, but for its intriguing rich history. From the fascinating stories behind the towns, to the historic landmarks that have played a big part in shaping our country, it’s well worth a visit to discover more.
With the new Borders Explorer ticket, you can get around this beautiful part of Scotland easily on just one ticket. Valid on both the train and bus, you can enjoy a great day out with minimal faffing about with tickets. Don’t forget you can get discounted entry into some of the attractions when you show your train ticket too.
If you’ve already visited the Borders and are looking for some other reasons to make the trip, here’s our reasons for riding the Borders Railway this summer.
Borders Book Festival, Melrose
Fewer book festivals have as beautiful a setting as this one. Now in its sixteenth year, the Borders Book Festival takes place at the Harmony Orchard and Garden in Melrose with views over Melrose Abbey and the Eildon Hills. With a fantastic line up including some truly inspirational women and interesting sports stars it’s bound to be four days of literary delights.
When: 13-16 June
How to get there: Purchase a Borders Explorer ticket at the station and ride the Borders Railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank or Galashiels. Once you’re off the train at either station, look out for a Borders Bus to Melrose.
Or, if hopping off at Tweedbank, enjoy the 30-minute walk to the Harmony Orchard.
Want to find out more about the Borders Book Festival?
Return to the Ridings
Each summer, towns throughout the Borders stage the Common Ridings, one of the oldest equestrian festivals in the world. The events take place between June and August in 11 of the region’s towns with Hawick, Selkirk, Langholm and Lauder claiming to have the oldest ridings.
The events date back to the late 13th century when this part of Scotland was entwined in a turbulent era when raiders and bandits pillaged the land on either side of the border. The townsmen would ride the boundaries on horseback to protect their land. Nowadays it’s a whole lot calmer thankfully and these events are held in homage to this important part of their history.
Each of the towns celebrate in a different way with some events lasting a couple of weeks, and for others a weekend. They all celebrate their fascinating history with music, parades and concerts before culminating in the ride out where hundreds of horses gallop around the town. The towns are Hawick, Jedburgh, Lauder, Coldstream, West Linton, Selkirk, Melrose, Galashiels, Duns, Coldstream and Peebles.
When: Various dates between June and August
It really is an event to be experienced!
Rail Ale Trail
A cool ale on a hot summer’s day is one of life’s luxuries. Ale and driving obviously don’t mix so VisitScotland have come up with some brilliant Ale Trail itineraries, using the train to get around. The Borders have two recommended Brewing Companies where you can learn about the craft, chat to the brewers and of course, enjoy a taste. Some of the taprooms also offer tours but these can be really ad-hoc so it’s best to contact them ahead to make the arrangements.
Top of the picks for the Borders are:
Cross Borders Brewing Company, Eskbank
Just a 3-minute walk from Eskbank Station, you can visit the Taproom on Fridays and Saturdays to enjoy their selection of beers. Tours are also run on the Saturday for anyone who fancies a nosy.
They are open Fridays from 4pm and Saturdays from 2pm.
Tempest Brew Co, Tweedbank
A 5-minute walk from Tweedbank Station brings you to Tempest Brew Co, an award-winning brewery who are rated among the Top 100 in the world.
The Brewery Shop and Taproom are open 10am to 5pm weekdays, and 12pm – 6pm on Saturday. Brewery tours can be arranged by appointment.
For a full list of Scotland’s Ale Trails, taking you across the country by train, take a look at Visit Scotland’s website.
These are just a few of the great things that you can do in the Borders this summer. For more inspiration, download the Borders App which has a ton of information on the attractions, what to see along the railway, stories, maps and local information. It’s the perfect travel pal for a day out in the Borders.