Eastern Borders and Berwick
Though the Borders are a favourite destination for visitors to Scotland, with towns like Jedburgh and Innerleithen and Hawick familiar to many, the eastern part is relatively little known. This is a pity, as the coast itself from Berwick at the border up to the lofty cliffs of St Abbs Head is strikingly beautiful, and just a few miles inland can be found historic castles and magnificent country houses set in the rolling agricultural lands south of the Lammermuir Hills.
At St Abbs Head the birder will enjoy the extensive nature reserve, with the chance of spotting puffins and kittiwakes in the skies over the seas. Beneath those seas too there is abundant life, and St Abbs village is a favoured spot for divers. Just a mile or so down the coast is Coldingham Shore, a wide curving beach with rockpools and painted huts. Both St Abbs and Coldingham are within easy reach of Eyemouth, where there is a range of accommodation available: Churches Hotel on Albert Street is a converted Georgian manse; and Scotland Cottages has another Georgian conversion, the dovecot tower of Gunsgreen House, perched over the entrance to the River Eye.
Eyemouth is still a fishing town, with a town museum that vividly tells its sometimes tragic history; and not to be missed is World of Boats at the quayside, housing a fabulous collection of craft from around the world - nor should you forget Giacopazzi's nearby, established in 1901 and still selling great ice-cream and top fish and chips.
Ten minutes down the road from Eyemouth is Berwick-upon-Tweed, which famously has changed hands 14 times between England and Scotland. Not surprising then that the town is full of history. The ramparts must be walked; in good weather the north wall of the harbour makes an enjoyable and long seaside stroll; and the 17th century bridge symbolises the eternally undecided status of the settlement. Berwick has a wealth of places to stay: grand country house hotels like Marshall Meadows, England's most northerly hotel, or Tillmouth Park between Berwick and Coldstream; more intimate town hotels like The Queen's Head in the historic centre; or you can take the bed and breakfast option at the Elizabethan Town House within the old walls.
Inland from Berwick the scenery of course changes, but the wealth of history continues. Paxton House is a stunning Adam building, with a major array of Chippendale furniture and hosting paintings from the Scottish national collection, and for the children an innovative play area and clever use of the grounds. Scotland Cottages has various properties in Paxton itself. Inland from Eyemouth there is the Edwardian splendour of Ayton House, built at huge cost.
More recognizably Borders towns sit in from the coast too: the old market town of Duns and Coldstream right on the Tweed - this area is of course famed for its fishing (Paxton House has a fascinating display by Ellem Fishing club, the world's oldest). In Duns the visitor can choose the town centre, with Bank House B&B right on the Market Square; or even Duns Castle itself, which has six holiday properties in the grounds; or go further into the country at Green Hope Guest House in the Whiteadder Valley. Coldstream has its own Bank House B&B on The High Street. Or right in the centre of the Eastern Border area is Chirnside, home for most of his life to racing driver Jim Clark, commemorated with an exhibition in Duns: the delightfully named Mole Cottage in Duns has views over the glorious Tweed Valley.
There is a huge variety of things to do in this district: exploring our history; observing nature; fly-fishing; walking; making sand-castles and playing in rock pools; the list goes on. A weekend can give you a taster, but a week offers the chance to dig deeper.
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