In this great house overlooking the Tweed, Sir Walter Scott lived, worked, and received the great and the good in luxurious salons. In 1811, the writer bought a farm on this site named Cartleyhole, which was a euphemism for the real name, Clartyhole (clarty is Scots for "muddy" or "dirty"). The name was surely not romantic enough for Scott, who renamed the property after a ford in the nearby Tweed used by the abbot of Melrose. Scott eventually had the house entirely rebuilt in the Scots baronial style. It was, of course, an expensive project, and Scott wrote feverishly to keep his creditors at bay. John Ruskin, the art critic, disapproved, calling it an "incongruous pile," but most contemporary visitors find it fascinating, particularly because of its expansive views and delightful gardens.
The interior, reopened after extensive renovations in 2013, now includes new areas of the house. A free audio tour guides you around the salon, the wonderful circular study, and the library with its 9,000 leather-bound volumes. The newly built visitor center houses displays about Scott's life, a gift shop, and an upstairs restaurant serving lunch. To get here, take the A6091 from Melrose and follow the signs for Abbotsford.