A Meander around Melrose

The Melrose Sevens rugby competition has been running since 1883. Our friends in Inverness were coming down for it and had a spare ticket so James joined them for most of the matches on the Saturday running up to the final. I spent the time wandering around the town which lies on the River Tweed at the foot of the Eildon Hills. I had not visited it since 2016.

The Sevens are a big event for the town and a pipe band were playing in the High Street.

I then spent some time in Priorwood Garden. It was originally part of an abbey estate, the kitchen garden for a large house and a market garden in World War II. It has belonged to the National Trust for Scotland since 1974.
It covers 2 acres in total and was the first garden in Scotland devoted to the cultivation of flowers for drying and preservation. It has an orchard with more than twenty varieties of apples.

I had an appointment to visit Melrose Abbey at 2pm. The guy at the entrance said that he had seen a number of ‘rugby widows’ on that day.

It is not possible to go inside the building at present because there is a huge backlog of surveys and repairs to damage underway in many historic buildings. The abbey was founded around 1136 by the Cistercian Order and originally had fairly simple architecture. The original church was destroyed by the English army in 1385 leaving only one wall remaining. The large nave was built around 1400 and is in a grander and more ornate style.

In the grounds is a museum which has many relics from the abbey and a list of all the abbots.

There were also relics some from Newstead which was known as Trimontium in Roman times relating to its position at the foot of three Eildon Hills. There is a museum devoted to this in town but like many businesses was closed for the Sevens. My next stop was Harmony Garden.

The house was built in 1907 and gifted to the National Trust for Scotland in 1996. It has a kitchen garden and glasshouse

and in summer the fruit and vegetables grown are sold from a trolley at the main gate. I enjoyed the flowers and some of last years seeds still hanging from trees and shrubs.

I then had a river walk along the banks of the Tweed, crossing the chain bridge.

Some of the riverside walks and the bridge are part of the Southern Upland Way.

Eventually it was time to meet up with my friend, have something to eat and to return home in the evening.

A new (old) railway to the River Tweed

Born 29 days after Beeching took up the chair of British Railways Board and closed so many railway lines, I grew up with abandoned railways all around the country. Many of these have become footpaths, some of which I have walked upon. Today we travelled on a railway which re-opened last September. We had intended to do this much earlier but poor weather and other commitments meant it did not happen until today.It is the northern part of the old Waverley Route which used to run between Edinburgh and Carlisle and which was closed in 1969. The train takes an hour to get from Edinburgh to Tweedbank through some of the communities I used to work in and which are almost unrecognisable 30 years later as so much new housing has been built. At one point I had thought that I might walk along the abandoned railway line alongside the A7 as part of my planned walk from my home in south Cheshire to the one in Edinburgh. That will not happen now and I have found an alternative route. From the station at Tweedbank there is a cycle path to Melrose but you can divert on a footpath by the River Tweed which is part of the Southern Upland Way and the Borders Abbey Way and takes you into Melrose.
Path by the Tweed 4 June 2016-1
One of the first places it passes is Skirmish Hill, site of a battle in 1526 when Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, was challenged by Walter Scott of Buccleuch over the custody of the 14-year-old King James V. Wildflowers were in bloom along the path and particularly striking was the comfrey.
Comfrey by the Tweed 2 4 June 2016-1
Nearer to Melrose we arrived at the Gattonside Suspension Bridge which is also known as the Chain Bridge and opened in 1826. In the town, we had a snack, bought some books (Melrose has a new and a secondhand bookshop) and explored the Priorwood Garden and dried flower shop which gave me some more ideas for drying my own flowers and plants.
Priorwood garden Melrose 4 June 2016-1
From the garden and surrounding streets you can see the abbey.
Melrose Abbey 4 June 2016-1
We did not have time to visit it today but walked back along the path to the station. Back in Edinburgh it was time to replace my old rucksack which has done many miles but is slowly falling apart despite lots of repairs. That done, we headed back to flat for diner with a friend before planning tomorrow’s journey.