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 Kelso

Sightseeing

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.

Nearby Ancient Monuments

Castles Nearby

Marlfield House

1700 mansion in good condition that was a hotel for a while but is now a private house again. The front door lock comes from Robert Adam's Calton Jail and the panelling in the hall from a cunard liner.

Paxton House

Lovely Adams Brothers designed house near Kelso. Possibly the finest Palladian mansion in Scotland.

Floors Castle

Still inhabited home to the Duke of Roxburghe with ten rooms to view including collection of funiture and modern art.

Mellerstain House

Astonishingly beautiful Georgian house designed by William Adam & his son Robert

Smailholm Tower

Small towerhouse near Kelso

Local Visitor Attractions

Vennel Gallery

Small gallery selling countryside and animal paintings & prints

Kelso Events

Kelso Border Games

Professional running events with food stands and children's entertainment.

Border Union Show

South East Scotland's premier agricultural and equestrian event.

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.

Inglestone House Inglestone House Guesthouse in central Kelso offers 3 star guesthouse accommodation since 1997 and it is now famed for its charm and friendly atmosphere. In striving for the very best in comfort for our guests, we have recently had the house completely refurbished. Under careful management it's been transformed, retaining its handsome Victorian character but incorporating many new and helpful features. This is very much a private, family-run guest house designed to make your stay in Kelso more relaxing, more comfortable and even more of a pleasure. more details about Inglestone House

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 are also some fine guesthouses and B&Bs, including White Swan Inn, Abbey Row, Tel 225800; and the non-smoking Bellevue House, Bowmont St, Tel/Fax 224588, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. The nearest youth hostel is at Kirk Yetholm.

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.

Burnbrae Holidays

Three one bedroom holiday cottages converted from stone barn in the peaceful Scottish Borders in the countryside setting. more details about Burnbrae Holidays

Self catering Cottages Near Kelso

Eating Out

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).

Cafes & Teahouses

Under the Sun Cafe

Organic and Fair trade cafe in central Kelso with children's area

Local Restaurants

Cobbles Inn Kelso

Pub style restaurant with great real ales. Traditional style pub grub at bar and restaurant

Gemini 1 Bar & Karaoke

Kelso's only bar and nightclub, features G2 Karaoke bar as well

Countryside Cookware

Opened in Kelso in 2005 and have won several national awards since then, including “Best Cookshop in Britain” in 2007.

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.

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