Scotland Borders - where for home base?

Old Oct 6th, 2022, 12:32 PM
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Scotland Borders - where for home base?

Hello!
I am planning another trip to Scotland late June-early July, 2023, and am planning to explore the Borders area for about 5 days. We especially want to spend a significant time at Hadrian's wall, which I realize is further south.

Is it reasonable to choose a centrally located city/area for a home base from which to explore the wall and as much else as the Borders area offers in our time period? If so, where would you recommend? We will be a family of 5 and this will be the end of our Scotland adventure so I would like to settle somewhere if it makes sense to do so.

All input will be appreciated!
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Old Oct 6th, 2022, 02:09 PM
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If it was me I'd stay two days/nights south somewhere on/near the Wall and 3 days/nights farther north in the Borders. Exploring the Wall and much of the Borders is doable from one base but it would be much easier with two bases.

Hadrian's Wall forts and sites are close together, and most of the Borders sights are close together -- but there is a good 90 minutes drive in between the two regions.
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Old Oct 6th, 2022, 03:11 PM
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From my trip report:

We chose Galashiels for our stay because it is well located for the sites we wanted to visit. Selkirk is slightly more out of the way, but nothing is very far in that area, and my impression is that Selkirk is a prettier town. Galashiels used to be a mill town, and we expected to find the Loch Carron mill and its store there, but the company had moved to Selkirk. Instead of mills, Galashiels is banking on being a regional shopping center and there’s talk of getting a light rail system from Edinburgh so that it would revive as a bedroom community. There already are two Wal-Mart type (one may be the European branch of Wal-Mart) stores facing each other across their parking lots and a third is being built. The center of the town was dead in the evening, so I would recommend the town as a base only if it is to be used as a base with no expectation of finding it interesting in its own right. In its defense, we discovered the same with Stirling, whose downtown simply closed up around 6 p.m., leaving only restaurants and pubs open.

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Old Oct 6th, 2022, 04:26 PM
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"and there’s talk of getting a light rail system from Edinburgh so that it would revive as a bedroom community. "

It is a regular rail line and connects Edinburgh with Galashiels and Tweedbank - it opened in 2015.

"The center of the town was dead in the evening, so I would recommend the town as a base only if it is to be used as a base with no expectation of finding it interesting in its own right. In its defense, we discovered the same with Stirling, whose downtown simply closed up around 6 p.m., leaving only restaurants and pubs open."

Not quite sure what you expected, It would be very difficult to find ANY town or village in Scotland (or England for that matter) with a lively downtown after the shops close around 5 or 5:30 PM. Pubs/restaurants/take-aways would be the only things open. Galashiels is by far the biggest/most active town in the region.
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Old Oct 7th, 2022, 10:19 AM
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June-July is Common Riding time in many Borders towns, so there may be more going on than there usually is. They are local festivals, mostly centered on ride-outs to neighbouring villages, but the major things going on in the towns. I would highly recommend Kelso for your stay, as it has quite a few hotels and b&b's, pubs and restaurants. A picturesque town centered around the town square. It is or was a farming town where the Tweed and Teviot rivers meet, and is about 65 miles south of Edinburgh. As for accommodation near Hadrian's Wall, our friends loved Battlesteads Hotel near Hexham. We were supposed to stay there, a couple of years ago, but didn't get to do so, as our friend died before we got there. It is on the A68 road, and that leads up to the Scottish Borders.
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Old Oct 7th, 2022, 10:34 AM
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Oh - to be clear -- I wasn't necessarily recommending staying in Galashiels. Just trying to explain downgrading it because it is 'dead at night' would mean not staying anywhere in the Borders

IF your dates do coincide with the Ridings there will be lots more activity than normal with street decorations, village fetes, etc.

Here is a site with the dates / some info https://rove.me/to/scotland/common-r...ottish-borders

They will put pressure on B&B availability on the specific dates in each town.

In Kelso, besides the ruined Abbey in the center of the town (not as extensive as Melrose/Dryburgh/Jedburgh) there is the lovely Floors Castle/gardens less than a mile out of town.

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Old Oct 7th, 2022, 03:23 PM
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Thank you all so much - this is exactly the information I was looking for. You all are the best!

Personal note: So nice to hear from you again, janisj. I don't know what the UK section of this forum would be like without you.
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