Abbeys and views in Melrose and Dryburgh, Scottish Borders

To celebrate Scotland’s national holiday, St Andrew’s Day, Historic Environment Scotland made free tickets available for all of its properties. This inspired us to take a drive down to the Scottish Borders and visit the abbeys of Melrose and Dryburgh. But the highlight of our trip was the surprise we stumbled upon between them.

The drive from Edinburgh to the Borders was lovely, full of quiet roads winding their way through autumn-toned forests, and small old-fashioned towns with boxy white churches.

Melrose Abbey
Melrose appeared very small and quaint, with its large, ruined abbey immediately visible from the road. We were given audio guides upon entry but we didn’t use them much, preferring to explore the ruins in our own way.

Melrose Abbey-03646-2
Melrose Abbey-03644
Melrose Abbey-03653

Melrose Abbey‘s most prominent features are its very tall windows – some of their amazingly thin stone supports now reinforced with metal rods – and its many weird and wonderful statues, which include skulls, pigs and other assorted gargoyles. It’s possible to climb a very narrow spiral staircase up to the roof, where you’re rewarded with an excellent aerial view over the surrounding countryside.

Melrose Abbey-03635
Melrose Abbey-03637
Melrose Abbey-03642
Melrose Abbey-03674

Melrose Abbey has one of those picturesque graveyards, where interesting headstones are spattered with lichen, hung with ivy and embossed with moss. I was particularly enamoured with the morning frost lacing the abbey’s ruined foundations, creating networks of sparkling crystals.

Melrose Abbey-03724
Melrose Abbey-03712
Melrose Abbey-03709

Scott’s View

On the road from Melrose to Dryburgh I spotted the most glorious view out the window, and requested that we stop to take it in. Parking beside a field of fluffy cows, we walked a little down the slope to appreciate the panorama in all its glory: rolling green hills, forests flocked in every autumnal shade, and distant sloping mountains draped with white mist.

Melrose Abbey-03754
Melrose Abbey-03739
Melrose Abbey-03743

The scene struck me as so serenely beautiful that it almost brought me to tears! Only later did we discover that this is ‘Scott’s View’, named as such because writer Sir Walter Scott loved it. Clearly he was a man of good taste. We said goodbye to the cows before driving on to Dryburgh.

Melrose Abbey-03746
Melrose Abbey-03738

Dryburgh Abbey

Unlike the imposing Melrose Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey lies hidden among trees beside the River Tweed. Though less architecturally impressive than Melrose Abbey, it did have a few stand-out features: a small exhibition of stone carvings (including St Andrew himself on his cross) and the graves of Walter Scott and his family. It was interesting to read about the monks who once lived there, sworn to living their lives in almost complete silence.

Melrose Abbey-03770

With the sky growing darker and pinker, we started to make our way home. But not before stopping to admire one of the huge bulls living in the field beside the abbey, who had come up to the fence to bid us goodbye!

Melrose Abbey-03780
Melrose Abbey-03801-2
Melrose Abbey-03815

All text and photos (c) Juliet Langton, November 2016. All rights reserved.


4 thoughts on “Abbeys and views in Melrose and Dryburgh, Scottish Borders

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.