Encircled by a moat Caerlaverock Castle sits in a clearing surrounded by trees

South of Scotland and Border Country Guide

Discover the Wonders of the Anglo-Scottish Border Lands 

Rolling hills, rugged coastlines and scenic islands all combine to create the breathtaking landscapes of the Scottish Borders and Northumberland.

Follow in the footsteps of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott who both called this magical part of the British Isles home. Discover the land of grand castles, ancient abbeys and historic houses on an unforgettable adventure.

Where Is the English and Scottish Border?

Scottish Borders

England and Scotland are separated by a 96-mile soft border stretching from the Solway Firth in the west to Marshall Meadows Bay in the east.

The south of Scotland is home to the quaint towns of the Scottish Borders and the English Border Counties include Northumberland, Newcastle and stunning snippets of Cumbria.

Discover the regions dramatic past where fascinating stories of border raids, fierce battles and Roman history abound. 

The English Border Counties

This part of England is famed for rugged coastal scenery and natural beauty. The north of England boasts impressive national parks, dramatic mountains and is jam-packed with historical attractions.

Discover historic communities like Alnwick with its famous castle and the Elizabethan walled town of Berwick-upon-Tweed in the heart of Northumberland.

Whether you’re looking for ancient forts, magnificent castles, breathtaking countryside hikes or cosy tearooms, the English Borders is the perfect setting for a weekend escape or an extended tour of the UK.

Walkers look down on the ruins of Nick Castle and Hadrian's Wall

Where Is Hadrian's Wall Located?

No visit to the English Borders is complete without stopping off at the impressive ruins of Hadrian’s Wall — a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In its heyday, the wall marked the northern limit of the Roman Empire. It stretches from the banks of the River Tyne in the east, all the way to the Solway Firth in the west.

Places to Visit in Dumfries and Galloway

Escape the pressures of modern life with a visit to the Galloway Forest Park. Discover over 300 square miles of mystical woodland, purple heather-clad hills and gorgeous valleys.

A loch in Dumfries and Galloway seen through trees at dusk

Located north of the Solway Firth and to the west of Scotland lies an area of unique landscapes, tranquil villages and bustling market towns.

As of 2009, Galloway Forest Park is officially recognised by the International Dark-Sky Association as one of only four Gold Tier Dark Sky Parks in the world. Lose yourself in the night sky as you gaze into  the wonders of the universe.

If you’re looking for something more energetic, grab your hiking boots for a section of the coast-to-coast Southern Upland Way walking trail. One hundred twenty miles of treacherous paths and stunning wildlife are at your mercy as you explore this wonderful stretch of Scottish Border walks.

Dumfries and Galloway Wildlife

For the wildlife enthusiasts out there, the Red Kite Trail is the perfect place to spot Scotland’s smorgasbord of rare bird species and admire recently reintroduced Birds of Prey.

You can observe Ospreys at Wigtown Bay or the Threave Estate, as well as geese, swans and otters at the world-famous Caerlaverock Wetland Centre.

Discover Robert Burns’ Life History 

A marble statue of Robert Burns in Dumfries

Scotland’s most prized national poet, Robert Burns, was born in Alloway in 1759. Today, the Scottish Borders are bursting with important historical sites and nostalgic memories from his past.

Journey back in time as you visit the simple cottage that he called home in the early years of his life. In later years Burns lived at Ellisland Farm which is now a museum and where visitors can enjoy a peaceful walk along the pathway where he composed “Tam o’ Shanter”.

In Dumfries, it’s possible to pop into the Globe Inn for a drink, just as Burns did when he lived in the town and to visit his final resting place in St Michaels Cemetery.

The Scottish Borders

To the south-east lies the Scottish Borders — a picturesque area of Scotland with a fascinating history. One of the most popular routes into Scotland will follow the Berwickshire Coast which boasts magnificent seascapes and secluded coves. In years gone by, this stretch of the coast was a familiar haunt for illegal smugglers.

The River Tweed and rolling Eildon Hills seen from Scotts  View

There are tonnes of things to do in the Scottish borders and quaint Scottish Border towns to explore. Discover the grand market square in Kelso, described as the “prettiest town in Scotland”.

The delightful town of Melrose has the Eildon Hills as a backdrop and was the birthplace of the ever-popular rugby sevens tournament.

With so many magnificent historic homes to visit in the region, you'll feel spoilt for choice. Discover the largest inhabited castle in Scotland at Floors Castle or explore the charismatic Traquair House, where the Bear Gates have remained closed ever-since Bonnie Prince Charlie's departure in 1745.

Formal gardens with sundial and trimmed hedges at Abbotsford House

Sir Walter Scott

The Border country was the chosen home of Sir Walter Scott, the famous author and patriot, who lived at Abbotsford near Melrose. He is famed for writing historical novels including Waverley and Ivanhoe.

As well as his writing career Sir Walter Scott is also famed for making the wearing of tartan popular and for re-discovering the Scottish Crown Jewels in Edinburgh Castle.

Unmissable Attractions in the South of Scotland & the English-Scottish Border 

The turrets and defensive walls of Alnwick Castle seen across the River Aln

Alnwick Castle

A grand medieval castle that has been home to the Percy family for over 700 years. The grounds have served as filming locations for Downton Abbey and the Harry Potter series. 

Melrose Abbey

This partly ruined monastery was founded in 1136 and suffered frequent attacks by the English army. The earth beneath Melrose Abbey is said to be where the heart of King Robert the Bruce is buried.

Abbotsford House

Discover the beloved home of the famous Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott. His collection of artefacts includes Rob Roy’s gun and Bonnie Prince Charlie’s quaich.

The famous marriage anvil in the Old Smithy at Gretna Green

Gretna Green

Visit the Blacksmiths Shop, where the anvil priests conducted weddings for eloping couples from England.

Today, Gretna Green offers a wide selection of outlet shops making it a popular shopping destination.

Coldstream

Explore this magical border town on the River Tweed. This peaceful spot is home to the Coldstream Guards, a regiment in the British Army.           

Lindisfarne

Connected to the mainland by a causeway, the Holy Island contains Lindisfarne Castle and the ruined priory which date back to 1550. Resident monks still brew the famous Lindisfarne Mead to this day — a welcome source of warmth on those cold Scottish nights.

Download official guides to plan the ultimate trip with Scottish Tours  

Discover Dumfries and Galloway

Explore the Scottish Borders