Saturday 5 June 2021


High Street

Melrose is a small attractive market town in the Scottish Borders. It can be reached via the A68 and is only 14 miles form the neighbouring border town of Kelso. In addition to lying peacefully on the banks of the River Tweed and in the shadow of the Eildon Hills, Melrose is home to the impressive Melrose Abbey and Leaderfoot Viaduct.

The Eildon Hills provide a dramatic backdrop to the attractive town centre adding to its sleepy charm. Only a short walk from the high street are the substantial ruins of Melrose Abbey and the majestic River Tweed. 

Melrose was originally called Mailros, meaning “the bare peninsula”. It was a small piece of 
land on the banks of he River Tweed a few miles east of the present town. It was here that 
in 650 AD St Aidan founded  a monastery and subsequently a small settlement grew. In 839 AD the monastery was destroyed and the settlement abandoned .This is now known as Old Melrose.  

In the early 12th century King David I instructed the building of a new Cisercian Monastery on the same site . However the monks declared that a site further west  called ‘Fordel”was more suitable. It was at this new location that in 1136 Melrose Abbey was founded and the new town grew. The original settlement was called Fordel but gradually became known as Melrose, after the abbey. 

During the wars of Scottish Independence both the town and abbey suffered at the hands of invading English armies. Despite these turbulent times the town continued to thrive. and had established itself as a centre for wool and linen production. After the Reformation in 1560 the abbey was abandoned and allowed to fall into disrepair but the town flourished and today this peaceful town attracts visitors to marvel at the remains of this once magnificent and imposing abbey, or to stroll along the banks of the peaceful River Tweed.  

High Street And The Eildon Hills

River Tweed

Melrose Abbey
Melrose Abbey was founded in 1136 by King David I of Scotland and the Cistercian Monks. It was the first Cictercian abbey in Scotland. In 1322 a large part of the abbey was destroyed after an attack by the army of Edward II. Although it was rebuilt it suffered a further attack by the army of Richard II in 1385 when it was burned. Over the next 100 years it was again rebuilt. In 1544 its was again badly damaged by english armies. 

The Abbey was never fully repaired and the last monk died in 1590. It is thought that the heart of Robert the Bruce is buried in the abbey.

Melrose Abbey

Leaderfoot Viaduct
The Leaderfoot Viaduct is also known as the Drygrange Viaduct. It is a magnificent Viaduct which was opened in 1863 and carried the Berwickshire Railway over the River Tweed. Unfortunately due to severe damage from flooding the railway closed to passenger trains in 1948 and to freight trains in 1965. It was renovated in the 1990's and although no longer in use it still stands proudly over the river.

Close to the viaduct is the Drygrange Old Bridge, which dates back to the 1770's. Although it no longer carries traffic, pedestrians and cyclists are allowed to cross freely.

The viaduct can be reached either by a pleasant walk from Melrose, or by turning off the A68 to a designated viewing point. This is an ideal spot to admire the beauty of the viaduct and take some photographs. The footpath to Melrose is ideal for both walkers and cyclists and takes you through the village of Newstead. Before reaching Newstead you will reach the site of the old roman fort, known as Trimontium, which lies in the shadow of the Eildon Hills. Although there are no remains to view a monument marks the site.

Leaderfoot Viaduct

Drygrange Old Bridge

Site Of Trimontium

Chain Bridge
The River Tweed is a short walk from Melrose Abbey, in the opposite direction to the town centre. It a tranquil place to relax and enjoy the river as it winds its way away from the town and under the chain bridge. This suspension bridge was opened in 1826 and crosses the river to the village of Gattonside. There are a number of walks that can be taken on both sides of the river.

Chain Bridge Over The River Tweed

There are many cycling routes around Melrose including a circular cycle from the Leaderfoot Viaduct to the Chain Bridge

Other Places Nearby
   Dryburgh Abbey
   Smailholm Tower
        Scott's View

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