The most important of these literary figures is undoubtedly Sir Walter Scott whose romantic depictions of a bygone Scotland left an indelible imprint on the public’s imagination. Sent to stay at his grandfather’s farm at Sandyknowe as a young boy, Scott was immediately entranced by ballads recounting ancient legends and tales of the dramatic exploits of Jacobite heroes.
Read any of Scott’s stirring novels or epic poems and it’s impossible not to be swept away by his passionate love of storytelling and myth which was ignited by the rich culture of the Scottish Borders.
Scott’s love of his ancestral home was such that he chose to build his magnificent home Abbotsford just outside the town of Melrose. Although the house itself is currently closed to the public, a new visitor centre providing a fascinating insight into Scott's life, influences and artistic legacy will open on 20 August. Objects, book and works of art relating to the great writer - many of which haven't been seen before - will go on display alongisde old visitors books books containing the signatures of famous visitors to Abbotsford including Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens and Ulysses S Grant. Afterwards you can explore its beautiful formal gardens and scenic walks through the grounds.
The Sir Walter Scott Way, a breathtaking walk between Moffat in the west to Cockburnspath on the south east coast, encompasses many of the atmospheric ruins and dramatic landscapes that feature in the writer’s work. Stop by the Tibbie Shiels Inn on the shore of St Mary’s Loch where Scott and his contemporary James Hogg, the author of gothic masterpiece The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, would spend many an evening discussing local folklore.
Known as the ‘Ettrick Shepherd’, Hogg was the self-taught son of a Borders farmer who helped Scott compile his collection of Borders ballads. Now regarded as one of the nation’s most important literary figures, his sinister works have influenced generations of Scottish writers from Robert Louis Stevenson to Irvine Welsh.
Another Scottish Borders native who incorporated his love of the region into his books was John Buchan. Best remembered for his fast-paced thrillers such as The Thirty-Nine Steps which later became a popular Hitchcock film, the John Buchan Way which goes through the Tweed Valley encompasses the writer’s favorite beauty spots such as the summit of Cademuir Hill.