A Hume Guide to the Scottish Borders # 3
Saturday Afternoon. In Part I we left you enjoying a gourmet picnic from Pharlanne on the banks of the tweed, in a scene so perfect it seems a shame to disturb it, and truly, we wouldn’t drag you away unless we had something really special in mind.
2.30pm. And The Mainstreet Trading Company, in St Boswells is very, very special. Thanks to online booksellers and Kindles, good independent bookstores are rarer than hen’s teeth, only the cream survive and Mainstreet is a browsers paradise, somewhere to recall the sensory pleasure of book buying. A former high flyer at Bloomsbury, Rosamund de la Hey tends an eclectic and thoughtfully displayed book collection. There is also a café selling picture pretty cakes, gifts and an impressive events programme.
5pm….and on into the evening. If you’ve chosen a cosy cottage, as recommended in our Finding the Perfect Bolthole post, then maybe now you’ll want to slope back for some quality lounging around. However, if you prefer the flexibility of a hotel – a night here, a night there – then we recommend a short shimmy along to the Buccleuch Arms.
From the exterior this famed St Boswells coaching inn looks pleasingly traditional, however inside it has all the bells and whistles the contemporary traveler demands: stylish bedrooms; splendid local food – Slow Roasted Belly of Pork stuffed with lemon and garden herbs; plump fireside armchairs; an elegant dining room; a snug and informal bar, a delightful garden if the weather is fine and, hot and cold running staff to cater to your every whim.
Even if you’re not staying in St Boswells it is definitely worth popping back for dinner.
Sunday Morning. How about a blast of restorative country air? There are many marked trails around the historic town of Melrose, perfect for exploring the landscape and history of the area.
The Scottish Borders Council leaflet Paths Around Melrose, details eleven walks of varying lengths. The most notable inclusion is the walk to Abbotsford, home of Scottish Bard, Sir Walter Scott. This small but perfectly formed castle was built entirely with the proceeds of Scott’s literary career and is a testament to the phenomenal success his novels – Ivanhoe, Rob Boy and the Heart of Midlothian.
As we write Abbotsford is undergoing extensive refurbishment, however the gardens and new visitor centre are scheduled to open for summer 2012.
Meet us in Part III, when we snoop around Melrose then head for the wild coast and dive deep into smuggler territory.