Home and gardens itinerary for the Scottish Borders

Discover the many stately homes and gardens you can visit in the Scottish Borders. Learn about the region’s tumultuous past and explore inside vast stately homes and romantic castles. Enjoy some of the most spectacular gardens in Scotland and discover why the Scottish Borders is often called ‘the Highlands in miniature’. Follow a leisurely five day trail through the picturesque towns and villages of the Scottish Borders, enjoying the best stately homes and open gardens available.

  • Looking towards the House and gardens of Abbotsford, Melrose
    Abbotsford House, Melrose
  • A couple sitting on a stone bridge in Dawyck Botanic Garden in the Tweed Valley
    Dawyck Botanic Garden in the Tweed Valley
  • Looking through the trees to the main facade of Manderston House
    Manderston House
  • A couple walk along the River Tweed at Mertoun House Gardens
    Mertoun House Gardens
  • Wilton Lodge Park
    Wilton Lodge Park

Begin your journey on our Homes and Gardens Trail at one of the finest Georgian houses in Britain, Paxton House. Originally built for Patrick Home, Laird of Wedderburn and his intended bride, Sophie de Brant, Paxton House has a sad and interesting history. The house boasts a restored Georgian Kitchen, a renovated children’s nursery full of Victorian and Regency era toys and games and the largest private picture gallery in Scotland.

Situated in 80 acres of spectacular gardens, enjoy a game of croquet or a round of golf on the 9-hole putting green. Children will enjoy the two adventure play parks and a host of activities, games and treasure trails. Finish your visit with a delicious lunch in the Stables Tearoom, with a selection of breakfasts, lunches and sweet treats on offer.

From there, head on a short drive through the village of Allanton to reach the next stop on our Homes and Gardens Trail. Manderston House is the supreme country house of Edwardian Scotland, boasting 56 acres of stunning grounds and the only silver staircase in the world. Here you'll find a house that was extensively rebuilt and remodeled between 1901 and 1905 on an unlimited budget: and what emerged was the very best available at the time.

The house was the setting of the Channel 4 TV series The Edwardian Country House giving an unprecedented look at life ‘above’ and ‘below’ stairs in a manor house in 1905. Enjoy a walk around the stunning gardens and explore the magnificent architecture, furniture and grandeur of the house. Enjoy some of the most fascinating and unique collections in the world including Britain's first privately-owned Biscuit Tin Museum.

Finish the day with a short drive on the A8105 to Mellerstain House and Gardens in Gordon. Mellerstain House, the grand design among Scotland’s finest stately homes, has been open to the public for over 50 years. Discover the history of Mellerstain and enjoy the fabulous paintings, embroidery, china and furniture collections and be inspired by the friendly atmosphere and romantic location of one of Scotland’s greatest Georgian houses. Complete your visit with a stroll through the beautiful gardens and around the Mellerstain Lake.

Begin your second day with a visit to Floors Castle, the largest inhabited castle in Scotland and home to the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe and their family. This stunning castle is situated in the heart of the Scottish Borders overlooking the River Tweed and Cheviot Hills. Designed by William Adam, who was both master-builder and architect for the first Duke of Roxburghe, the building started in 1721.

Today, Floors Castle provides a fantastic family day out with a wide variety of activities and attractions to see. Take a stroll through the extensive gardens overlooking the River Tweed and enjoy marvelling at the beauty and grandeur of the estate. The walled garden contains splendid herbaceous borders and in the outer walled garden a parterre to commemorate the Millennium can be seen. There is also an excellent children's playground and picnic area. Relax with a spot of lunch at the Terrace Cafe, where the chef provides daily delicious specials and a variety of home-baked treats.

Continue your journey with a short drive through the town of Kelso, to Smailholm Tower. In complete contrast to the large and luxurious manor houses, Smailholm is now a ruin of its former self. Situated atop the crag of Lady Hill, the tower commands views over the surrounding countryside and is the inspiration and setting of much of Sir Walter Scott’s work. Originally built for the Pringle family the tower past to the Scott’s of Harden in the 17th century, the ancestors of Sir Walter Scott. The tower provided inspiration to Sir Walter Scott who stayed there while visiting his grandfather. Smailholm provides the setting for Scott’s ballad, The Eve of St John and also appears in Marmion.

Enjoy exploring the ruin and museum which illustrates the stories and life of Sir Walter Scott. Imagine the tower in its former glory and the inspiration it must have provided to an imaginative child’s mind.

Finish the day with a gentle stroll through the stunning Mertoun Gardens comprising of 26 acres in the grounds of Mertoun House. Located in an outstanding setting overlooking the River Tweed, Mertoun Gardens feature a wide variety of interesting plants, shrubs and specimen trees as well as a well maintained walled kitchen garden.

Begin your third day in the historic town of Jedburgh with a visit to Mary Queen of Scot’s House, where Mary once stayed after developing a fever. She was nursed by the Kerr’s in their home in Jedburgh and the house is now a museum devoted to the tragic tale of Mary Stuart’s life and her visit to Jedburgh in 1566. The collection includes tapestries, artefacts and memorabilia from Queen Mary’s life, including the watch which she lost during a riding fall.

The beautiful bastel house sits in a garden of pear trees and flowers and provides an ideal spot to learn and reflect on the turbulent and tragic life of Scotland’s most famous monarch.

Take a short drive through Jedburgh to reach Monteviot House and Gardens. Once belonging to the Kerr family, Monteviot House is now the 18th century home of the Marquis of Lothian and his family. Located on the River Teviot, the house boasts stunning views and magnificent gardens. The house is open for viewing throughout July each year and has a stunning and peaceful quality, having been a rest home for missionaries and a hospital during the First and Second World Wars.

Explore the beautiful Monteviot Gardens, which spread across 30 acres, down to the banks of the River Teviot. The journey starts by the house with a small series of specialist areas including a compact Rhododendron border, a mixed shrub and herbaceous appetiser border and a Japanese Acer and Pieris border under planted with Candelabra Primulas. These specialist areas lead in turn to the breathtaking viewpoint over the main garden, the River Teviot and the heritage parkland beyond.

Finally, follow the A898 on a drive to Hawick to pay a visit to the stunning Wilton Lodge Park, one of the most picturesque town parks in Scotland. Take a walk through the Violet Woods or enjoy a game of crazy golf, bowling or putting.

Begin your day with a walk around the delightfully tranquil Harmony Garden, situated in the town of Melrose. This beautiful walled garden has stunning views of Melrose Abbey, a variety of flowers and a croquet lawn.

Take a short walk through Melrose to reach Priorwood Garden and Dried Flower Shop, the sister garden of Harmony and Scotland’s only dedicated dried flower garden. Set within a walled garden and covering two acres, Priorwood Garden features a specialist garden where the plants grown are selected for their suitability for drying. The colourful and imaginative selection of flowers ensures variety for the dried flower arrangements made on the premises. Visitors can learn about the garden’s history and choose blooms to order from a dedicated drying room.

From here, take a short drive to Abbotsford House, the ancestral home of Sir Walter Scott, the 19th century novelist and poet of Waverley, Ivanhoe and Lady of the Lake. Visitors will see Scott's study where he wrote many of his best known novels and attractions include a library containing over 9,000 rare volumes, a drawing room decorated with the original Chinese hand painted wallpaper, an entrance hall and armouries with a display of items from all corners of the world. You can explore the grounds and woodland walk, soaking up the atmosphere that helped Sir Walter achieve his world fame. Finish your visit by enjoying a splendid lunch or high tea at Ochiltree’s Dining restaurant in the newly refurbished visitor centre.

Finish the day with a final stop in the town of Selkirk, just a 15 minute drive on the A7. Here you will find the stunning Bowhill House and Country Estate, the principle house of the Scotts of Buccleuch. On a guided tour through the house you will be able to see an outstanding collection of paintings, superb silverware, porcelain and French furniture. Relics of the Duke of Monmouth, Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scott are also on display. The country estate boasts dedicated way marked paths and trails for wildlife enthusiasts and walkers and the estate offers a wide variety of outdoor activities and sports.

Begin your day with a visit to Traquair House, one of the most famous and historically important houses in Scottish history. See the splendid Bear Gates or the ‘Steekit Yetts’ (stuck gates) as they are known locally and discover why they have not been opened since 1745.

Spanning nearly a thousand years of Scottish history, Traquair House today is a unique attraction for all ages. Trace the footsteps of the kings of Scotland as you climb the turnpike staircase and discover how priests escaped in times of danger. See the wonderful collections of embroideries, letters and relics of former times.

Outside you can wander in the extensive grounds and woodlands, entertain children in the maze and adventure playground or simply relax for lunch or tea in the 1745 Cottage Restaurant.

Take a 10 minute drive on the B7026 to Kailzie Gardens situated four miles east of Peebles. Occupying a beautiful position on the River Tweed, Kailzie Gardens are surrounded by magnificent hills and planted with a wide variety of mature specimen trees. Within the walled garden are greenhouses, herbaceous borders, many unusual species of shrubs, laburnum arches and an enchanting rose garden. 15 acres of wild garden features woodland and burnside walks. Enjoy a visit to the Osprey Viewing Centre which has a variety of nesting cameras and opportunities to see ospreys, herons and other birds and wildlife.

Finish your day with a trip to the stunning Dawyck Botanic Gardens in Peebles. Dawyck Botanic Garden has a stunning collection of trees and shrubs and these majestic specimens provide an impressive backdrop for the series of walks that give a glimpse into the wealth of plants on display. The garden is the home to, not only a host of botanical wonders, but also an abundance of wildlife. As you meander through the Heron Wood Reserve you can find out more about the fascinating world of fungi, lichens and mosses and you might see a red squirrel or a colourful woodpecker too. Make sure you take a stroll along the Beech Walk as the reward is a wonderful tree top view of Dawyck and the Tweed Valley beyond and is the perfect spot to reflect on your journey through the stately homes and gardens of the Scottish Borders.