Come and discover the wealth of history and heritage in the valleys as well as their traditions of balladry. Some of the earliest signs of history are seen at the standing stones in the Yarrow Valley. There are several ancient stones which date from the 5th and 6th centuries. These include the Glebe Stone, the Yarrow Stone and the Warrior's Rest.
The numerous Tower Houses are signs of a turbulent past when there were frequent raids along the border between Scotland and England. The Tower Houses were used to shelter and protect livestock and people in times of danger. Aikwood and Kirkhope towers have been restored and are inhabited once again and you can see the remains of other towers at Newark, Dryhope, Blackhouse, Cramault (all in the Yarrow) and Tushielaw, Thirlestane and Gamescleuch (in Ettrick Valley).
No visit to the valleys is complete without going to Bowhill House, a country seat of the Duke of Buccleuch. The house, with paintings by masters such as Canaletto, Raeburn, Reynolds and Gainsborough, is open to the public in July and August and the country park, with its wonderful variety of walks and exciting adventure playground for kids, is open from April to October. Don't miss a visit to the Victorian kitchen or the Minstrel Tearoom.
The valleys also have a very important literary history. James Hogg was born in Ettrick and spent his entire life in the valleys. His most famous work, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, is important in Scottish literature. Hogg was a lifelong friend of Sir Walter Scott, who aided his career as a writer wherever possible. Scott was the Sheriff of Selkirkshire, and you can visit Scott's Courtroom in Selkirk as well as his home at Abbotsford House which also has a restaurant and visitor centre.
The James Hogg Exhibition, which is near to Hogg's birthplace at Ettrick, is open from 25th May to 28th September, three afternoons per week (Wed, Fri & Sun) from 2 - 5 pm. Ettrick Kirk (with the gravestones of James Hogg and Tibbie Shiels) also has a small exhibition of its history. You can visit at any time.
Download our Visitor Guide to Ettrick & Yarrow Valleys for more historical information and the tales and ballads for which the area is famous.
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