Kelso Scottish Borders Travel and Tourism Information
Kelso lies in the fertile and lovely Tweed Valley and is a farming town to its core.
Its annual ram sale is the biggest in the world and it is proud host of the two-day Border Union Show, which spans rural life from cattle to alpacas and a range of crafts. The town is a centre for National Hunt racing and its course is known as Britain’s friendliest racecourse.
Perhaps its most famous building is picturesque Floors Castle, home of the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe, and hub of a farming and sporting estate of 50,000 acres.
It has 45 tenanted farms, hill farming, two grouse moors, 3,500 acres of woods and salmon fishing on the River Tweed. Other activities include golf, clay shooting, horse riding, 4×4 driving and cycling.
The town of 6,000 people is elegant and welcoming, with cars rumbling over its smartly cobbled roads.
Sir Walter Scott, who attended Kelso Grammar School, described the market town as “the most beautiful if not the most romantic village in Scotland”.
The settlement where the Tweed and Teviot meet was first recorded in 1113 when the Earl of Tweeddale, later King David I, brought monks from Tiron in France to Selkirk and then moved them to Kelso to set up an abbey. They passed on craft skills to the local population.
“Rennie’s Bridge” of 1803 was built by John Rennie, of Haddington, as a dry run for his larger Waterloo Bridge in London. The Kelso bridge sparked rioting in 1854 because tolls were being levied after the cost of construction had been recouped. The Riot Act was read, but three years later the tolls were gone.
Local firms trade on Kelso’s agricultural traditions. Among home grown products are chutneys by Pettigrews, cheeses from milk of the Stichill Jersey herd and delicacies from Teviot Game Fare Smokery. Competition gardeners will know about Kelsae Onions, which can grow to 16lb apiece.
Kelso is a good centre for visiting other Borders towns and attractions such as Abbotsford, Melrose Abbey, Manderston and Priorwood Garden.
Every July Kelso Civic Week includes common riding, featuring the Kelsae Laddie with his Right and Left Hand Men, who go on horseback to visit neighbouring villages.
Where is Eyemouth?:
See the map on our Scottish Borders maps page.