#Scotland 2015 – Sept 24, 2015
This morning we were off to Kelso but we had some unfinished business in this area. We had said after visiting Tantallon Castle in the rain if it was nice the day we were headed south, we would go there first since we had plenty of time to get to our final destination.
Everything looks better in the sunshine. We got rid of the rain but it was still blustery up at the castle.
I’m really glad we did go back to Tantallon because had we not, we would have missed the opportunity to see Hailes Castle. It was signposted as straight ahead where we turned right to go to Tantallon.
After our repeat visit here, hubby found Hailes Castle the Historic Scotland satnav maps that he downloaded to our Garmin before we left home and off we went.
There’s a face in this wall – intentionally or otherwise – the way the stones are strategically missing. Two eyes, a nose and a lopsided mouth.
After our visit to Hailes Castle, we set out for the village of Gordon and Greenknowe Tower.
We weren’t far from Dryburgh Abbey so headed there (another bathroom break was needed). On the way, we passed Scott’s View and made an out loud mental note that we would stop there on our way back.
While in the shop at the abbey, I bought a guidebook for Smailholm Tower because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get one when we got there. Chatting with the man who was working, he asked where we were from. He went on to say that there were two girls there at the moment who were also from Ontario. They came back in before we went on out into the grounds so had a chance to say hi to fellow Canadians.
During our time at the abbey, the light had changed significantly and the Eildon Hills weren’t lit as they had been when we passed by the first time. Still, it was a dramatic view and easy to see why Sir Walter Scott was so enchanted with it.
If I said getting to Smailholm Tower was an adventure, it would be an understatement. The single track roads were okay. I don’t mind driving on them. But you come to a farm and have to drive through the farmyard and out onto a gravel track to go the rest of the way to the carpark at the bottom of the hill. At least, there was a sign on the fence post guiding us beyond the barns and other outbuildings.
After you navigate through the farm to the car park, you still have to hike up a hill to get to this castle. The sign at the bottom indicated two paths – the easy one and the more difficult one. We took what was labelled as the easy one. It wasn’t as steep as the hill to Dunideer which we’ve done in the past, but with the wind, it might as well have been. We thought it was blustery at Tantallon in the morning… it was nothing compared to here!
The entrance to the castle is on the side opposite the gravel track. When we got to this point, there were a few gusts of wind that almost blew me off my feet.
We toured the three floors of displays, a lot related to Sir Walter Scott, and despite the high winds, it wasn’t considered windy enough to not allow access to the ramparts on either side of the earth roof. It did, however, make it difficult to open or close the door depending on what side you were standing on.
When we left, we chose the ‘difficult’ path to return to the car. It was far easier to traverse than the one we ascended.
The rest of the drive to Kelso was uneventful. We came in a slightly different way than we did in 2013 but once I got close to the square, I didn’t need the satnav anymore. I knew exactly where I was going.
This is the same room we stayed in before at Duncan House. The only difference was the bed now had a wooden headboard and footboard and the wall colour changed.
On our way to abbey it started to rain and of course, we left our umbrellas back at our room. We were sorely disappointed that The Empress of India had closed since our last visit to Kelso so, not knowing the area well, were at a loss as to where to go for supper.
I approached a woman in front of Glendale Paints and asked if she could recommend a good place for a meal. I mean who better to ask than a local? She ushered us into the store out of the rain and suggested if we wanted a good meal at a good price we go to The Waggon Inn and told us how to get there from where we were at that moment.
We thanked her and continued to the abbey which was closed when we were here in 2013 (arrived too late). This time we were able to get inside the gate and get some good photos from there despite the rain.
By the time we got to The Waggon Inn for our meal, the rain had stopped.
It’s hard to see from this angle looking up the driveway, but our room was the first dormer at the closest end of the house and our en-suite bathroom was the middle dormer.
From this angle you can see the middle dormer much better and barely see the one at the far end of the house.
We’ve been to Kelso twice but have never managed to get any closer to Floors Castle than Duncan House. We’ll have to rectify that.
The next time we come to Kelso and stay at Duncan House, we’ll spend more than one night and get to Floors Castle and visit/re-visit some of the Historic Scotland properties that are nearby.
Tomorrow… shh… don’t tell anyone, we’re heading south of the border to Barnsley. Long story, but for now I’ll just say it’s for research for another novel I’m working on.