We recently returned from a relaxing two night break in the Scottish Borders. Our home was a fantastic hot-tub lodge at the brand new and recently opened Castleview Holiday Lodges. The family-owned lodges – Meadows (sleeps two), Tanner (sleeps four, plus one dog) and Chesters (sleeps four, plus one dog) are located on a rural hillside overlooking the pretty market town of Lauder. They boast views of the Lammermuir Hills and the magnificent pile that is Thirlestane Castle (hence the name – Castleview).
More on Castleview Holiday Lodges shortly, first let’s find out what’s on the doorsteps.
Day one – 48 hours in the Scottish Borders
Lauder – a Scottish Border town with bags of charm
Lauder is located 22 miles southeast of Edinburgh. It takes roughly an hour to drive there from Scotland’s Capital, and 80 minutes if you go by bus.
The town is clustered around the High Street, where you’ll find a great selection of small, independent shops. Lauder is a bit of a foodie’s paradise and has an excellent baker, butcher, deli and cafe.
Lauder is more than a foodie’s paradise though, it’s a walker’s one too. The Southern Upland Way long distance walking route (214 miles) passes through the town. It’s also surrounded by hills and trails, so there are no shortage of places to walk, in and around Lauder.
Lunch – Flat Cat Gallery, Lauder
We arrived in town around midday, so we started our Borders break in the cafe. Flat Cat Gallery is a dog friendly cafe and gallery on Lauder High Street.
I love a good gallery, and a gallery that sells soup, cake and a decent cup of coffee, I love even more.
After browsing the lovely artworks for sale (which Mr G reminded me I had no more space at home for), it was time to eat.
We both had home-made leek and potato soup with bread, and a slice of cake and coffee for lunch. It was fab.
Hume Castle, Hume
After lunch, we decided to take in some local history, so drove 15 miles to visit Hume – a quaint Borders village, which is home to a magnificent folly.
The folly, known as Hume Castle, started life as a castle in the 13th century, when the Earl of Dunbar granted the lands of Home/Hume as part of a dowry for his daughter Ada.
The castle became a key strategic site in the eastern Borders, due to its close proximity to England’s border and the Auld Enemy who lived over it. It weathered many turbulent times over the centuries, falling into English hands, then being recaptured by the Scots again.
King James II stayed at Hume Castle in 1460 during the siege of Roxburgh. He died during the siege, when one of the Scottish cannons exploded and killed him.
In 1651 Oliver Cromwell’s army attacked Hume Castle and left it a ruin.
In the late 18th century, the ruins were incorporated into a huge, castle-like folly, giving us Hume Castle as we know it today. The folly was used as a beacon during the Napoleonic Wars and a lookout station during World War II.
Today, it’s a must visit if you’re in the area. The views from the castle’s rocky vantage point are stunning.
Castleview Holiday Holidays, Lauder, Scottish Borders
Back in Lauder, we stocked up on supplies from the local shops, then it was time to check-in at Castleview Holiday Lodges.
The lodges are located in leafy grounds, just off a single-track country road, a two minute drive away from Lauder High Street.
We accessed our lodge (Chesters Lodge) via self-check in, which was quick and easy.
We entered into a large open plan space, with a modern kitchen, lounge and dining area. It had a log burning fire (my favourite), a big comfy sofa and armchair. A panoramic window looked out over farmland and rolling Borders hills. It was as pretty as a painting.
There were two pretty en suite bedrooms, one at either side of the lodge.
The bedrooms and lounge had patio doors, which opened onto a terrace, with a hot tub, seating and patio heater. Beyond the terrace, was walled garden with uninterrupted views of the surrounding countryside.
The colour palette throughout the lodge was neutral and tasteful, with pops of colour and nods to Scotland coming from cushions, throws and paintings.
We loved it.
The boy loved it too. He took an instant shine to a rug by the window where he could toast himself at the fire while staring out of the window (a favourite pastime of his).
We found a welcome pack waiting for us with wine, crisps, Scottish tablet and staples like bread, milk, coffee and tea in it. There were dog biscuits for the boy too. Owner’s Lynda and Gary had thought of everything to make their guests feel welcome.
A relaxing first night at Castleview Holiday Lodges, Lauder
After we’d unpacked, it was time for dinner. It was an odd combination, but great comfort food on a drizzly autumn evening. We’d bought macaroni pies at Lauder’s Firebrick Bakery earlier and had them with mashed tatties and gravy. A strange mix I know – but super tasty.
We sat for a while after dinner, taking in the view and watching night fall.
Once the sky had taken on the deep, blue hue of a Scottish evening, we slipped into our swimwear and headed outside to soak in the hot tub.
It was blissful sitting there, listening to the rustle of the trees and watching Lauder twinkling below our amazing rural hideaway.
Later, back inside, we drank coffee and chatted by the fire, before toddling off to bed.
The bed was incredibly comfy, and combined with the peaceful rural location, it wasn’t long before we were all sound asleep.
Day two – 48 hours in the Scottish Borders
The next morning, we tucked into porridge and bacon butties made, with delicious bacon from the local butcher, before heading out to explore more of what was on our doorstep.
Scott’s View, Scottish Borders
Leaving Lauder, we drove 12 miles south to reach our first stop of the day. Scott’s View near Melrose is a popular, beauty spot that was a favourite of Sir Walter Scott’s. It’s now named in his honour. There’s a small car park at it, and an information plaque outlining the points of interest that can be seen from the viewpoint. It’s a gorgeous place, with views of the River Tweed and Eildon Hills.
And, if you want to see it from a slightly different perspective, a wooded gate on the opposite side of the road, gives access to a grassy hill with a faint path winding up it. It leads to a tall standing stone on the summit of the hill (Bemersyde Hill). It’s not an ancient stone, but it suits the environment and gives an alternative vantage point to enjoy Scott’s View.
Sir William Wallace Statue, Scottish Borders
Leaving Scott’s View, we drove towards the village of Bemersyde a few minutes away.
After our mini hill hike, it was time for a short woodland walk. Parking the car we set off along a path into mature woodland. Birds were singing and sunlight was shining through the trees. It was lovely.
Soon, a towering giant (21 1/2 feet) standing on a tall plinth (9 1/2 feet) came into view. He was looking out over the River Tweed, and beyond to the Eildon Hills. It was a transfixing view, even for a giant Greek god made of sandstone. Only, he wasn’t a Greek god. He was a romanticised Victorian depiction of Sir William Wallace.
The statue was commissioned by the 11th Earl of Buchan in 1814 and was carved by John Smith – a self-taught local sculptor.
It doesn’t matter how many times I visit the statue, I’m always blown away by the scale of it. It’s magnificent, despite being a work of Victorian whimsy.
Dryburgh Abbey, Scottish Borders
The Scottish Borders are home to a number of medieval abbeys. They’re all architectural wonders and fascinating to visit, but Dryburgh is my favourite.
The abbey was founded in 1150. It stands on an idyllic spot by the banks of the River Tweed near Saint Boswells.
The peaceful location belies the turbulent times it weathered. Over the years, Dryburgh Abbey was attacked and set on fire three times. Luckily, it’s still remarkably well-preserved. There’s artwork on the walls of the chapter house that dates to when the abbey was built.
There are some amazing old gravestones in the cemetery too, but the most famous burial there – Sir Walter Scott lies inside the abbey ruins, in a spot he chose himself.
Buried near Scott is another famous local. Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig (Earl Haig). During WWI he was commander of the British Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front.
Temple of the Muses, Scottish Borders
There was one more local gem nearby, we wanted to visit before lunch. A couple of minutes away from Dryburgh Abbey, the Temple of the Muses stands on a small hill overlooking the River Tweed. The neoclassical temple is dedicated to the poet James Thomson. It was commissioned in 1817 by the 11th Earl of Buchan. He was obviously a man who appreciated a good statue. The temple originally housed a statue of Apollo with nine muses, but it went missing. In 2002 it was replaced by a bronze sculpture depicting four muses. Representing the four seasons. They’re a nod to Thomson’s four poems ‘The Seasons’. Coincidentally, he also wrote the lyrics to Rule Britannia.
A visit to the Temple of the Muses offers two cool things to see, because it stands beside Dryburgh Suspension Bridge – a shoogly (wobbly) bridge that spans the Tweed. Who doesn’t love the thrill of crossing a shoogly bridge?
Lunch, Eden Coffee House, Melrose
We decided to head to Melrose for lunch at the dog friendly Eden Coffee House.
The coffee house has a huge menu. We found lots of our favourites on it, so choosing what to eat was a dilemma. In the end I opted for loaded fries with beef chilli and Mr G had a pesto, tomato and mozzarella ciabatta with chips. The food was fab. There were doggy items on the menu too, so the boy had a puppaccino. It arrived topped with gravy bones, which delighted him no end.
Leaderfoot Viaduct and Trimontium, near Melrose
Puppaccinos and loaded fries won’t walk themselves off – so after lunch we visited another favourite local viewpoint for a walk.
Arriving at the Leaderfoot Viaduct Viewpoint just outside Melrose, we stopped to admire the remarkable feat of Victorian railway engineering, before stepping further back in time.
We headed along a country lane which passed under one of the viaduct’s arches. It was a quiet country walk offering a fantastic view of the three peaks of the Eildon Hills.
Once upon a time, this sleepy corner of the Scottish Borders was known as Trimontium, which means the place of the three hills. It was the largest Roman settlement north of Hadrian’s wall. Occupied from around 79 AD to 184 AD, there was a fort and amphitheatre on site. There are information boards dotted around Trimontium which help to bring it to life. They feature depictions of what it would’ve looked like. My favourite board looks towards the Leaderfoot Viaduct. The striking focal point draws the attention away from ancient history hidden right under your nose. If you ignore the viaduct for a minute and study the field in front of it, you’ll see a dip in the landscape. The dip was once a Roman amphitheatre. How cool is that?
Excavations at Trimontium have unearthed numerous Roman artefacts, which can be seen at the Trimontium Museum in Melrose.
After half a mile or so, we turned to walk back toward the car. We must’ve been too focussed on Ancient Rome during the first part of our walk, because we’d completely missed the fact that the hedge running along the side of the lane was teeming with red admiral butterflies. They were everywhere and didn’t fly off when we got close to them. Thirty minutes later, we finally tore ourselves away from the butterflies to finish our walk.
Chill time at Castleview Holiday Lodges, Lauder
Back at Castleview Holiday Lodges, we repeated our tried and tested relaxing formula from the night before. Sit by the fire, graze on nibbles, enjoy the view, then once night falls, slip into the hot tub and watch the lights of Lauder twinkling below. Then round off another brilliant day with a good night’s sleep – perfect.
Castleview Holiday Lodges, Lauder – the verdict
We loved our stay at Castleview Holiday Lodges. The accommodation was decorated to a high standard and well-equipped. The location was fantastic and offered us the best of both worlds. I loved the peaceful rural location, combined with having a town on the doorstep. The Borders are sometimes overlooked by visitors in favour of the north. Yet it’s a fantastic region to visit, with stunning scenery and loads to see and do. If you’re planning a self-catering break in Scotland, the Scottish Borders is where you should be heading. I can highly recommend some luxury hot tub lodges in Lauder that are dog friendly too.
Our stay at Castleview Holiday Lodges was a paid partnership, however all opinions are entirely my own.
Until next time …
If you liked this post, you may also enjoy this one which features more things to see and do in the local area.