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Scottish Borders and Hadrian’s Wall – 2nd draft of Britain Trip

Scottish Borders and Hadrian’s Wall – 2nd draft of Britain Trip

Dec 30th, 2015, 09:40 AM
  #1  
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Scottish Borders and Hadrian’s Wall – 2nd draft of Britain Trip

Hello all,

I am zeroing in on planning one part of our Britain trip in June, following a lot of helpful comments on the first draft of the overall trip beginning in London and ending in Glasgow.

The piece below is the part from Hadrian’s Wall through the Scottish Borders (I am numbering the days as part of the overall draft):

(Days 1 – 5: London & Lakes District)

Days 6 & 7 Haltwhistle: drive from Lakes District to Haltwhistle, stay at Ashcroft B&B; today and tomorrow visit Vindolanda, Housesteads, Roman Museum, maybe drive to Langley Castle for lunch

Day 8 Alnwick: drive to Alnwick; where to stay? Visit Alnwick castle, then on morning of Day 9 Holy Isle (get out before high tide comes in around noon!), Bamburgh

Days 9&10 Melrose: around noon of Day 9 drive to Melrose and on the way see Floors or Mellerstain (I’m thinking we could not see both in that time?) Once arrived in Melrose, stay at Old Bank House or Town House? On day 10 visit Melrose Abbey, Abbotsford, and possibly Dryburgh, then drive to Traquair in mid-day of Day 11 so we have time to settle in, visit the brewery and the maze.

Day 11 Traquair: If I have engineered this correctly, this will be a Friday so we can have dinner at Traquair. They only serve dinner in season, and only on Friday and Saturday, according to their website. (We are taking Airtransat, a large Quebec charter airline, out of Montreal, and they only have flights to London and Glasgow two or three times a week in high season so I am having to juggle the calendar to fit things in.)

Day 12: drive to Galashiels, drop off rental car, take the train to Edinburgh, change for train to Glasgow. As long as I’m doing this, I might as well finish off the trip…

Arrive early afternoon in Glasgow: stay in Premier Inn. See some Mackintosh.

Day 13: at 9 a.m. leave on Rabbies Tour of “Oban, Glencoe, West Highlands Lochs and Castles,” returning to Glasgow at 7:30 pm. We’re not usually tour people, but this seems designed for small groups of 15 or less and an efficient way to take a brief look at part of the west highlands.

Day 14: fly from Glasgow back to Montreal

As always, thanks in advance for any and all ideas, suggestions, comments!
EYWandBTV is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 10:52 AM
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Try to certainly include Dryburgh Abbey - to me by far the nicest of the Melrose, Jedburgh and it. Lovely country setting along Tweed River - Jedburgh was the least appealing, being on a busy road in a busy city but still so close are all three they can easily all be done in a half day.

Not sure why you can't drive yourselves the Rabbies tour route and go your own pace and time - stop at a nice pub of your choice for lunch, etc. Maybe go straight from Galashiels to the not very far Highlands - stay a night in a small B&B in the Highlands - I did that driving my folks around once and we loved the small town B&Bs - so friendly.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 02:17 PM
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ESW
 
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Do allow yourself time to walk part of Hadrian's Wall as well as visiting Vindolanda, Housesteads and the Roman Army Museum. There is good access to the wall to the west of Housesteads and it is easy walking to Housesteads Milecastle and beyond if you are feeling energetic and time allows.

On the day you arrive in Haltwhistle you may have time to drive to Cawfields Picnic site which is signed off the B6318 opposite the Milecastle Inn. There is a car park by a flooded quarry and a footpath leads up to the Wall and Cawfields Milecastle.
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/v...hadrians-wall/
From here there is a lovely walk east along the wall to Shield on the Hill at the next road junction. It's about a mile walk each way and there are superb views. Then turn round and walk back to the car.

If time allows there is also the Roman Fort at Bird Oswald, about 7 miles west of Haltwhistle.
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/v...d-roman-trail/


If you have chance, also try and fit in Warkworth Castle
http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/castle...rth/index.html
which is quite close to Alnwick and was the ancestral home of the Percy Family, the Dukes of Northumberland.

You won't have time to do both Floors Castle and Mellerstain. Check the days Mellerstain is open as according to their website it is only open Fridays-Mondays in 2016. Also, the house doesn't open until 12.30.

Floors is open every day from 10.30.

Unlike PalenQ, I like Jedburh Abbey. It is a splendid setting above the road. I'd hardly call Jedburgh a busy city - more a small town although the A68 can get busy. Dryburgh is a quieter setting and does have the Scott connection.

You are also likely to be passing through Kelso which also has a ruined abbey, although there isn't as much of it left.

I've not been to Abbotsford but daughter has and was underwhelmed.

Traquair house is wonderful - don't miss the Bear Gates and find out why thy are always kept shut.

Congratulations on using the newly reopened railway line between Galashiels and Edinburgh. It's on my 'to do' list and I've heard it is an excellent run.

It sounds as if you will have a wonderful time. It's a lovely part of the country and so often ignored by tourists.
ESW is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 02:24 PM
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Unlike PalenQ, I like Jedburh Abbey. It is a splendid setting above the road. I'd hardly call Jedburgh a busy city - more a small town although the A68 can get busy. Dryburgh is a quieter setting and does have the Scott connection.>

did not mean to imply I did not like Jedburgh and the town too - but if I had to chose with limited time I'd do Dryburgh first on my list - do all if you can - well the big three - Melrose too. I easily did all in one day by bus.

"least appealing" was a poor choice of words as Jedburgh was very appealing - just IMO not as much as Dryburgh, where I saw a wedding with Scottish kilts and all taking place in the ruins.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 02:45 PM
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Good re Traquair!

But on your day 12 I'd drive. Yes, the new line could be interesting but it will be quicker and cheaper to just drive (are you sure you can drop the car in Galashiels?) But even if you can, it is only about 85 miles/less than 2 hours drive from Galashiels to GLA where you can drop the car w/o driving in the city itself.
janisj is online now  
Dec 30th, 2015, 03:52 PM
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The ruins at Dryburgh are beautifully situated, but Jedburgh Abbey has much more architectural appeal, IMO, and its setting as ESW states is imposing especially if you can envision the impact it would've had during the Middle Ages. There is also a very good museum at Jedburgh.

All three abbeys ( Melrose,Dryburgh and Jedburgh ) are wonderful. Kelso is a pretty place, but very little remains of the former abbey. The town is worth a visit but unless you are extremely interested in medieval architecture, the few remnants of the abbey are not really worth a stop.
historytraveler is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 04:04 PM
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So much good information, thanks to everyone.

Re driving: we have not driven in Britain in decades, plus I find that even driving in a place like France drains my brainpower, hard to relax. The thought of driving from Galashiels to the outskirts of Glasgow does not beckon, especially coming at the end of the trip. Plus, we love trains and the new Borders Railway seems to provide a great trip past several towns on the way to Edinburgh.

Re Galashiels as a drop-off point for the rental car. Enterprise's web site shows the service station on the A72 in the Wilderhaugh neighborhood of Galashiels as the drop-off point. Looking at Google Street View, I see a shiny Shell station, just a few hundred yards from an equally shiny McDonalds (!#@#*&!!!!!), and then just a few hundred yards beyond is the Galashiels train station for the Borders Railway line. I pray that Google is not misleading me here. But I have emailed the service station owners, apparently an entity called Adam Purves Ltd, to see if this is correct. How did we live before the internet and Google?

@ESW: great nuggets of information! For the Wall, I have bought Henry Stedman's "Hadrian's Wall Path". I am a map fanatic, I love this book. It has 59 highly detailed maps, covering every twist and turn of the wall, the path, the vallum, almost mile by mile, and the villages and bus stops, etc. It even shows the precise location of the apparently renowned "windblown hawthorn tree overhanging wall" a thousand meters west of Steel Rigg. This is better than War and Peace. ESW, I'm printing out your walking suggestions and sticking them into Mr. Stedman's book.

Should we stay 3 nights in Haltwhistle to really enjoy walking around this area and visiting the ruins and museums? We still have a little unscheduled time in the itinerary.

Re Bear Gate at Traquair: because they're waiting for a Stuart on the throne?

Traquair: several Fodorites rave about this place. If we decide to bust the bank and stay not one night but two nights at Traquair, then we would go into Interleithen for dinner the first night, which would be a Thursday, and dine at Traquair on Friday. But...we are cautious about drinking and driving, and I have read that Scotland's law is even stricter than England's on this point, so one of us would abstain. No wonderful bitter for that unlucky person at dinnertime. Have any of you kind readers driven at night from Traquair into the village, on that little country road? What's it like? It's about 1.5 miles (again, if Google Maps is telling the truth), so possibly we could walk to and from?

We knew nothing about the Scottish Borders until our friends in St. Andrews suggested it. It looks like a wonderful area, hugely rich in history, beautiful landscapes and sites.
EYWandBTV is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 04:35 PM
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Yes, the Scottish Border area certainly has a rich and also a violent history. If you have a chance, do try to read a little about this area before your trip. It will immensely enrich your visit. The Borders are often overlooked but definitely a wonderful place to visit.
historytraveler is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 02:54 AM
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ESW
 
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DON'T drink and drive. It isn't worth the risk of getting caught out!

You could easily spend three days in the Haltwhistle area exploring the Wall and surrounding area. There is some geneneral information here:
http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/f...yne#post_10082

This has information about walking the wall:
http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/f...yne#post_10082

Both of these were written four years ago, so some of the links no longer work. googling should provide the information.

SOUTH TYNE TRAIL
The South Tyne Trail follows the closed railway line from Haltwhistle up the South Tyne Valley to Alston and makes an easy and interesting walk.
http://www.northpennines.org.uk/List...htynetrail.pdf
Lambley viaduct is the jewel of the trail after it was carefully restored. The route is also a cycle way so watch out them. The top three miles of the line have been reopened as the South Tyne Railway. This is narrow gauge with a range of steam and diesel locos.
http://www.south-tynedale-railway.org.uk/

There are details of a lovely walk south of Alston here:
http://www.northpennines.org.uk/List...lower_Walk.pdf


WALKING IN HADRIAN'S WALL COUNTRY
http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/sites...hw_country.pdf
This has several suggestions for walks along the wall complete with maps.

One of the best walks is a Barbarian’s view of the wall, Walk 7, as this takes you north of the wall.

Walk 9 gives details of the walk from Cawfields quarry to Shield on the Wall which it calls Caw Gap. You can actually do this walk from Haltwhistle, up the burn and this is Walk 10. This is a lovely walk following the line of an old mineral railway and is very easy. You can always continue walking east from Caw Gap but this is a real roller coaster of a walk as it climbs and drps to Winshields, the highest point of the wall. You keep reaching the top of a ‘summit’ only to find yet another drop and climb ahead of you beofre you actually reach Winshiels. The walk west from the car park at Steel Rigg is a lot easier!

As well as the "windblown hawthorn tree overhanging wall", there is also Sycamore Gap to the east of Steel Rigg. The Wall is a real roller coaster along this stretch too and we always cheated by dropping down to follow the military way to Housesteads...
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/had...amore-gap-walk

MORE IDEAS
Corbridge Roman Town to the south of Corbridge with its impressive granaries is also worth visiting.
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/v...hadrians-wall/
When in Corbridge (an attractive small town), pop into the church to have a look at the recycled Roman Arch into the base of the Saxon tower. In the graveyard is the Vicar’s pele, the fortified house he lived in during the turbulent times along the Border.
http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/church...dge/index.html
Near by is the ruined Aydon Castle, again worth a visit. It is possible to walk here from Corbridge - detail for Walk 5 in Walking in Hadrian’s Wall Country.
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/v.../aydon-castle/

Hexham Abbey has a Saxon crypt, Roman gravestone, St Acca’s cross and an Anglo Saxon chalice. If time allows it is also worth visiting.
http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/church...ham/index.html

INVERLEITHEN
If you do stay here, the Robert Smail's Printing Works makes a fascinating and very different visit.
http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Rober...rinting-Works/

AND FINALLY, if you haven't already found this website it is a wonderful source of information.
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/
Start with the map pages and follow the links to the information pages with lots of information and pictures. An added bonus is that it also covers part of Northumberland. There is a description of a driving tour round the Border Abbeys here:
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...eys/index.html
ESW is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 03:38 AM
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@ESW: thanks so much for this treasure trove. BTW, do you have any favorite eating places in Interleithen?
EYWandBTV is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 03:41 AM
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Sorry, meant Innerleithen
EYWandBTV is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 05:05 AM
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ESW
 
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Sorry, I can't help you with eating places. Hopefully others may. Our standby lunch was always bread and a banana...
ESW is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 06:16 AM
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I mean dinner!
EYWandBTV is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 11:40 AM
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ESW's wealth of great info makes me want to go back and spend more time in this area that yes is sadly neglected by many folks posting about Scotland and Fodor Scottish experts that seldom seem to mention this wonderful area instead always concentrating it seems on the Highlands and northern Scotland - the Borders area is so close to England that a day or two here on a largely English trip an easily be done. A wonderful area many more should consider IMO.

Thanks to ESW for bringing it alive.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 01:37 PM
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ESW
 
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As you may have gathered I can wax lyrical about this area and I've only just begun to scratch the surface. Have you visited Cairnpapple Hill
http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/...?PropID=PL_050
and Edin's Broch?
http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/...?PropID=PL_127
ESW is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 02:41 PM
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I love these names...I think Cairnpapple wins the prize.
EYWandBTV is offline  
Jan 1st, 2016, 12:06 PM
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ESW
 
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Talking about names, there is always the 'Rest and be thankful' pass.
http://www.scotlandinfo.eu/rest-and-...ul-on-the-a83/
ESW is offline  
Jan 1st, 2016, 01:25 PM
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Half of my family traces its roots to Threepwood, a burg near Melrose- one reason I went to the area in the first place - they call themselves 'shanty Irish' because when English rich dudes took over the peasant farms and converted them into sheep grazing ranges they did not need so much farm labor and shipped them off to Northern Ireland (as they were Prods) and thence later to Canada. This from my family's history.

But a wonderful area that though not as dramatic as the Scottish Highlands that get all the hype is one of the neatest in Britain IMO - lots of neat things in a very compact area.
PalenQ is offline  

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