One of my main objectives in Scotland, wanting to absorb the history of the Middle Ages, was staying in a castle. There is an abundance of castles turned hotels in Scotland, but I needed to find one that would allow a small service-dog, which is why I chose Cringletie House Hotel. Technically a baronial home, I figured it would give us a chance to get out of they city and into the gorgeous sheep-strewn Scottish countryside long enough to enjoy a more bucolic setting. It’s also not far from Edinburgh, which we just visited.
The perfect stopping point on our drive south from Edinburgh was Rosslyn Chapel, open all year round, built in the 15th century and recently made known by its inclusion in Dan Brown’s novel and subsequent film, The Da Vinci Code. The chapel has an interesting history and so many intricate symbolic carvings you’ll want a bit of time to take them all in. Better yet, attend one of the weekly church services.
I don’t know about you, but it seems the men in our family are always hungry, so we headed into town to grab a late lunch at the gastropub at The Original Rosslyn Inn Hotel. It was quaint pub grub, but that’s what we expected.
The next morning after dinner, a good night’s sleep and a huge Scottish breakfast at Cringletie we made straight for Jedburgh Abbey, founded in 1138. Grab an audio guide with your entrance ticket and away you go. This part of Scotland is known for its abbeys, dating back more than a 1,000 years. Augustian canons, priests fo the order, made their home at Jedburgh, embracing a life of humility, abstinence, prayer and although cloistered, service to the community.
If you need a break or a bite to eat I recommend the Abbey View Coffee shop, a sweet place for a caffeinated beverage or a hot nourishing bowl of soup. Continue your journey through time exploring the other abbeys such as Dryburgh Abbey, Kelso Abbey and Melrose Abbey, a magnificent ruin with lavishly decorated masonry. Melrose Abbey is the burial place of Robert the Bruces heart, marked with a commemorative carved stone plaque within the grounds.
Be sure you save time (up to two hours) to visit and tour Robert Smails Printing Works in Innerleithen. We popped in on our way back to Cringletie and it was a major highlight of our time in the Borders. Robert Smail’s is a fully functional Victorian era letterpress printing, now preserved by The National Trust for Scotland as an Industrial Heritage hands-on museum. The expert staff lead the tours and demonstrations of a skilled trade which has all but disappeared. Free parking is on Leithen Road and Hall Street.
WHERE TO EAT
We tried all these restaurants in our few days in the Borders and liked them all and the gluten-free, dairy-free eaters among us had not trouble finding entrees to tempt their tastebuds.
Cringletie House Hotel – We preferred the bar menu not the formal dining room.
Saffron (Indian) – 68 High Street, Innerleithen
Bony’s Steakhouse in the Glentress Hotel, Peebles
Peeble’s Hydro – This is a fun place to go for a happy hour drink or to check out the rather impressive selection of gin at the “gin palace”.
Abbey View Coffee Shop – 5 Abbey Pl, Jedburgh
The Original Rosslyn Inn Hotel – 2-4 Main Street, Roslin, Midlothian