A Scottish Border Bus (my ride for the next week) brought me from Abbotsford House to Melrose and it was just a short walk to Melrose Abbey, one of the jewels in the Scottish Borders.
Founded in 1136 by Cistercian monks it was the chief house of the order until the Reformation. Today the monastery is partly ruined and under the care of the Historic Environment Scotland. Last year I used their Explorer Pass for visiting lots of places but this year I upgraded to the membership. It´s really worth it and gives you free entry to 70 places in Scotland! The others are either private (Historic Houses) or under the care of the National Trust for Scotland, I´ll be getting that membership next year.
The Cistercians were drawn to this fertile spot beside the River Tweed by its close associations with St Aidan and St Cuthbert. The monks came from Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, the Cistercians’ great northern English missionary base.
Monastic life continued at Melrose for the next 450 years. The last monk, John Watson, died around 1590. The crumbling abbey church was used as a parish church until a new kirk was built nearby in 1810.
Even so, just a small part of the abbey survived it´s been one of the most beautiful ones I´ve seen so far. And it´s fun to look out for the famous gargoyle of the pipe playing pig.
It is believed that Robert the Bruce loved the abbey so much, that his heart was buried here. Today marked by a memorable stone saying “The heart of a brave man was buried here”.
The monastery contained several houses and plots of land, the Commander’s house is a museum today and has a beautiful view of the abbey.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Sir Walter Scott was appointed Sheriff-Depute of Roxburghshire. In 1822, with the financial assistance of the Duke of Buccleuch, Sir Walter supervised the extensive repair work that was to preserve the ruins. In 1918 the Duke gave the ruins to the state. (Wikipedia)
Scott also described the abbey in a few of his poems.
Just a short walk from Melrose Abbey lies the Harmony Garden, a peaceful and stunning garden cared for by the National Trust for Scotland.
The garden offers beautiful views of the abbey and the Eildon Hills…
As its name suggests, at Harmony Garden nature is perfectly in tune. Step out of normal life and into somewhere more colourful, relaxing and balanced.
Manicured lawns, scented borders and fruit and vegetable beds spread out from a beautifully proportioned Georgian manor house – available as holiday accommodation. (nts.org.uk)
Another beautiful and very calming garden lies on the other side of the abbey: Priorwood Garden, a former house garden of a manor house and a communal garden during WWII.
Priorwood garden has three different sections, a woodland area, a garden dedicated to dried flowers and the orchard.
With wonderfully framed views across to the abbey, the orchard cultivates many historical apple varieties, as well as plums, pears, damsons and greengages. (nts.org.uk)
There were plans to transform the garden into a big parking space for visitors but luckily the National Trust for Scotland was able to buy and conserve it.
After visiting the abbey, the gardens and having a walk along River Tweed it´s time for a little break in one of the tea rooms or cafés in Melrose. There is a wide variety of lovely little shops along the main road and also lots of places for a cup of tea or coffee.