Visitor guide to Kelso in Scottish Borders includes info on ins and outs, sights, accommodation, eating, self-catering cottages and more. You'll also find the links to hotels and accommodation in Kelso area and price comparing options.
Telephone dialling code for Kelso: +44 (0)1573
Local Population: 6,000
The little market town of Kelso, at the confluence of the Tweed and Teviot rivers, is one of the most picturesque of the Border towns, with its cobbled streets leading into a wide market square bounded by elegant, three-storey 18th- and 19th-century town houses. The main festivals are the Border Union Agricultural Show and the town's Riding of the Marches, both of which take place in July. Kelso also hosts its own Rugby Sevens in early September.
Situated on the banks of the River Tweed at its junction with the Teviot, Kelso is an ideal place to use as a base for exploring the Borders, the Berwickshire Coast and North Northumberland. Described by Sir Walter Scott as The most beautiful if not the most romantic village in Scotland, it has kept that atmosphere which he loved. Kelso
With a population, today, of just over 6,000, it is large enough to have everything, but not too large to overwhelm. Protected to the north by the Lammermuir Hills and the Cheviots to the south, it lies in one of the most fertile valleys in the country. Being within ten miles of the English border, past history dealt the town a very hard time during the Border Wars of the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries.
Local Sights & Activities for KelsoSightseeing
Kelso Abbey was once the largest and richest of the Border abbeys, but suffered the same fate as its counterparts, Jedburgh, Dryburgh and Melrose. Kelso was a strategic point in the Border wars between the Scots and the English and the abbey, founded in 1138 by King David, was laid to waste by successive English invasions, most devastatingly in 1545 by the Earl of Hertford. This latter attack was part of Henry VIII's so-called 'Rough Wooing', when the king took exception to the Scots' refusal to ratify a marriage treaty between his son and the infant Mary Stuart. Today, little remains of the abbey, and it is the least complete of those in the Borders. The nearby octagonal Old Parish Church, built in 1773, is unusual. Info: Apr-end Dec daily (Sun afternoon only). Free.
Aside from the abbey, the town's only other major attraction is the pleasant Cobby Riverside Walk, which leads along the banks of the Tweed to Floors Castle. Leave The Square by Roxburgh Street, and follow the signposted alley to the start of the walk. The route passes the junction of the Tweed and Teviot rivers, a spot famous for its salmon fishing. Floors Castle, the vast ancestral home of the Duke of Roxburghe, stands imperiously overlooking the Tweed, about a mile northwest of the town centre. The original Georgian mansion was designed by Robert Adam and built in 1721-26, though it was later remodelled by William Playfair in the 1840s, with the addition of many flamboyant features. Only 10 rooms are open to the public but they are undeniably elegant and palatial, and amongst the many priceless family items on display are outstanding collections of European furniture, porcelain and paintings by Picasso, Matisse and Augustus John, and a 15th-century Brussels tapestry. Floors is the largest inhabited castle in Scotland and the current occupier, the 10th Duke of Roxburghe, is a close personal friend of the royal family. The house also has a restaurant and a coffee shop. Info: Mid Apr to end Oct daily 1000-1630 (last admission 1600). £5.50, £4.75 concession. Tel 223333.
Kelso Hotels & Accommodation
The most luxurious place to stay hereabouts is The Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course, at the village of Heiton, a few miles from town on the A698 to Hawick, T450331,Roxburghe This country mansion, owned by the Duke of Roxburgh, stands in hundreds of acres of park and woodlands on the banks of the Teviot, and offers grand style, superb cuisine and a championship golf course.
Less salubrious but nevertheless highly recommended is the slightly more affordable Ednam House Hotel, on Bridge St, Tel 224168, Fax 226319. A family-run Georgian mansion overlooking the Tweed and close to the town centre. Excellent food served all day (lunch cheap; dinner mid-range) in a restaurant with great views over the river.
There's a campsite at Springwood Caravan Park, Tel 224596, Spring Wood Caravan Park open Mar-Oct, overlooking the Tweed on the A699 heading west towards St Boswells.
Self catering Cottages Near Kelso
- Jake's Cottage Sleeps 6
The best places to eat are the Roxburghe and Ednam House Hotels listed above. The other hotels in town also offer food, most notably the Queens Head, Tel 224636, at 24 Bridge St, and the Black Swan Hotel, Tel 224563, on Horsemarket. Both are just off The Square and offer cheap bar meals. There's also Cobbles, a cost dining pub on Belmont Pl, and Cottage Garden Tea Room, opposite the abbey, which offers tea, coffee and light lunches (closed Sun & Wed, Nov-Easter, and Mon Jan, Feb).
Travel Directions to Kelso
The bus station is on Roxburgh St, a short walk from The Square. There are regular buses to and from Galashiels, Melrose, Jedburgh, Coldstream and Kirk Yetholm. Services are less frequent on Sun. For more details, contact the main bus operator First Edinburgh, Tel 0131-663 9233, or Traveline, Tel 0870-6082608. There are also several buses (Mon-Sat) to and from Berwick-upon-Tweed. Kelso's Tourist Information Centre is in the Town House, on The Square, Tel 223464. Apr-May Mon-Sat 1100-1600, Sun 1000-1300; Jun and Sep Mon-Sat 0930-1700, Sun 1000-1300; Jul and Aug Mon-Sat 0900-1830, Sun 1000-1700; Oct Mon-Sat 1000-1600, Sun 1000-1300; winter Mon-Sat 1100-1600. Hours subject to change.