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Galashiels Scottish Borders Travel and Tourism Information

Blossom Trees Galashiels

Springtime in Galashiels © Graham Riddell/

At the heart of the Scottish Borders lies Galashiels, set amidst some of the area’s most stunning scenery.

Rolling hills, unspoilt countryside, an abundance of wildlife and the beauty of the Gala Water in whose narrow valley this picturesque town stands (it derives its name from its location: dwellings by the Gala Water),  means this part of the world offers something for everyone – whatever their age.

Galashiels’ history dates back to at least 1124, but man long ago recognised the charms of the area. Nearby is the ancient Catrail Pictish earthwork which runs for miles across the landscape.

And Torwoodlee Broch , an ancient fortified tower dating back to around 140AD to the north west of Galashiels, is also still visible.

Like other towns in this region, Galashiels suffered for centuries at the hands of the English as the viscous cross-Border wars took their toll. The settlement’s coat of arms shows two foxes reaching up to retrieve a plum – a reference to an event in 1337 when a troop of English soldiers were caught napping beneath such a fruit tree and were massacred by the local townspeople.

In 1599 Galashiels became a burgh, a milestone that is still celebrated every June with the Braw Lads gathering when riders parade through the town on horseback.

“Rolling hills, unspoilt countryside, an abundance of wildlife and the beauty of the Gala Water”

The festivities which go on for a week and include numerous side shows and other events were immortalised by Robbie Burns in his poem Braw Lads, which is still sung to this day at the annual gathering.

Riders arrive at Threepwood as part of the Braw Lads ceremonies © Rob Gray/

Another of Scotland’s literary heroes, Sir Walter Scott, also has close ties to Galashiels. Abbotsford House where the author of such classics as Ivanoe, The Bride of Lammermoor and Waverley, lived is just a short distance from the town.

Today the house with its library containing more than 9,000 rare volumes is open to the public.

But from 2013 there will be an exciting new way to experience Sir Walter’s home. A multi-million pound restoration programme currently underway will see the creation of five-star self-catering accommodation in the private family wing.

Like other Border settlements, Galashiels’ recent fortunes owe much to the wool textile industry which flourished in this area in the 19th century, and although it is not such a dominant feature of the local economy today, its influence can still be seen around the town from its impressive architecture to its amenities.

Galashiels boasts a wealth of shops, high quality restaurants, a swimming pool, cinema, sports centre, numerous golf courses (this is Scotland after all, the birthplace of the game) and the Old Gala House museum and art gallery set in landscaped gardens.


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Where is Galashiels?:

See the map on our Scottish Borders maps page.

Sir Walter Scott’s home, Abbotsford House © Robin Chapman/