For Mr VP’s birthday, we opted to go on a short holiday. Things are quite busy here at Chez VP at the moment, so a full week away wasn’t really feasible. To save us spending most of our short break on the road, we opted to stay reasonably local and visit the Borders; a region of Scotland that we hadn’t explored. I’m so glad that we did, as we had such a nice – if brief – time there. Our first (and main) port of call was a little town just north of Jedburgh called Melrose. I had heard that it was a nice place to visit and had connections with St Cuthbert as he began his monastic life in the town. Nowadays, it forms part of the famous St Cuthbert’s Way, a walk of just over 62 miles that traces his journey from Melrose to Holy Island, where he ended his days.
It seemed apt, then, that we began our trip with a little look around the mighty red sandstone abbey that is really Melrose’s centrepiece. Whilst not on quite on the same scale as Fountains Abbey, it is quite a sight to behold, and I must admit I was awed by how well it has been preserved. Vaulted ceilings remain intact, cornicings and intricate carvings, gargoyles and window tracery are all present and quite beautiful.
I found it easy to imagine how wonderful it would have been to walk through the huge aisles, coming across the monks at their daily prayers and ecclesiastical business.
Some ruined abbeys have quite a dark feeling about them. Perhaps it is a leftover remnant of the dissolution and destruction of the monasteries and abbeys. Perhaps it’s just the centuries of not being loved or used for their intended purposes. However I didn’t get any bad feelings from Melrose. It is a very pleasant place to walk around.
If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Cross over the road and continue into the other part of what would have been the monastery and you can find the remnants of Medieval engineering – the great drain. This would have provided water and flushings for the whole site. Isn’t it impressively constructed?
A little further on and you will come across a Medieval canal, still in (some) use today. On the day we visited it was full of cherry blossoms (it was quite windy) – even better!
My favourite photo of 2015? I think so!
Walking on the grass was like walking on the softest Wilton carpet with a delicious pattern. I wonder what this would look like as a carpet? Hmmm…
Flippin’ heck – it doesn’t get any better! Squee! The best bit about travelling northwards at this time of year is that you can enjoy a second blossom season! Love.
Melrose is all old, high brick walls covered in lichen and blossom.
It has its share of gardens to walk around, too. This is the Harmony House garden, which is National Trust.
Obviously, I gravitated towards anything that was blossom-based. It is so fleeting, after all, that one has to get one’s fill where and when one can! We had such a nice time together and really enjoyed our time away. Life has been quite busy of late, so having the chance to reconnect and enjoy one-another’s company is so important… And where better to do it than somewhere beautiful, eh?
Peeping at the abbey from under a huge Cypress tree in the Harmony garden…
Melrose town is quite a looker, too. Full of old industrial-age buildings, it is quite pretty and filled with nice shops to look around (particularly the book shop – love it!). It is also full of good places to eat – we recommend Burt’s Hotel. That big hill is one of two called the Eildon hills and the gap in the middle is where you walk if you follow St Cuthbert’s Way.
Another place worth a visit is the Priorwood garden which would once have been the abbey’s walled kitchen garden. To this day it has ancient apple trees and houses Scotland’s only dedicated dried flower garden. There is an exhibit and shop where you can see the drying room and buy some of the flowers. It’s very interesting, but not half as interesting as the apple trees!
I don’t think it is possible to have visited at a better time! Blossom. Everywhere. As well as a lot of lichen – no wonder it felt wonderful to breathe the air!
Apples from (almost) long-lost varieties as well as a few more modern standards. Cider apples. Donated apple trees. I can imagine that come autumn it must be gloriously brimming with apples.
This is the Leaderfoot viaduct and provided too good a view not to stop and take a photo. The river is the Tweed, apparently a very good place to go salmon fishing (though speaking to some fishermen it wasn’t a good time for it!) especially if you can find a knowledgeable Gillie to show you the best spots! The bridge is now sadly disused.
On the way home, we had to stop at the border and take a photo looking back towards Scotland. The drive was absolutely beautiful if a little windy (and windy!) and took virtually no time at all, so we have vowed that we must return for a longer break when we get the chance.