The Scottish Borders as a region is home to many stunning towns, old Castles and intricate architecture, so we once more headed East into the Borders, towards the town of Coldstream. On the way, we passed through some amazing countryside, and spotted a few landmarks…
The Scottish Borders
The countryside throughout the Scottish Borders is famed for its beauty, and with it being one of the more rural, and least populated Council Areas in Scotland, there is a lot of quiet, stunning views to be had as you drive through. We had started in Gretna, Dumfries & Galloway, and made our way North East, using the A7 towards Hawick, where we would come off towards the A698 to Coldstream, one of the last major Borders towns before you reach the North Sea. As its name suggests, it is 1 of only 2 Scottish Council Areas to Border England, where it meets Northumberland near Hexham and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
We were very lucky in that we had a lovely day for our trip, the sun was shining, and we were even treated to 2 separate rainbows throughout the journey, along with the rolling hills and pleasant views.
As we made our way East along the A698, we were treated to some great views of a large hill called “Minto Crags”, atop which sits a large Pele Tower, called Fatlips Castle. This type of tower is common in the borderlands of Scotland, and we had already visited a few, including Smailholm Tower.
This particular tower was built in the 16th Century, by 1 of the Border Reiver families, called the Turnbulls. The whole purpose of the Pele Tower was defensive, as during the 15th, 16th & 17th centuries families on both sides of the border, in England & Scotland, would raid neighbouring villages, plundering and pillaging without Mercy. The family appeared to have a cheeky side to them, which lead to the rather interesting name used to refer to the Castle. “Fatlips” apparently comes from a tradition that male members of the family would greet female visitors with a large kiss, which wasn’t considered polite at the time.
The Towers had iron baskets on their roofs, which contained burnable materials such as wood. When attack was imminent, the baskets were lit and the smoke signals acted as a warning system across the region. During these times the Turnbulls would have sat safe in their Castle, high above the local lands, although apparently the Crag was set alight in 1545, but the Castle has obviously survived. The Border Reivers, as the pillagers were known, effectively ended their reign of tyranny during the 18th century, as in 1707 England & Scotland united to form 1 country.
The Castle has passed through a number of hands since the Turnbulls, as it was purchased by Sir Gilbert Elliot in 1705. By 1898 it was in the hands of Sir Robert Lorimer (1864 – 1929, Scottish Architect) who undertook a large restoration project on the buildings interior, for use as his private lodge and museum. In recent years another period of restoration is ongoing, as since the Castle fell out of use in the 1960’s it began to decay, however it is being preserved for the future, and will remain a historic landmark here in the Borders.
For anyone looking for the Castle on Google Maps, it isnt actually listed, however if you use these co-ordinates: 55.4800° N, 2.6631° W, it will take you to the right spot and you will be able to see the Castle on satellite view.
The other landmark we spotted, again from the A698, after it had crossed the A68 near Jedburgh, was the towering form of the Waterloo Monument. This is the monuments 2nd incarnation, with the original having been completed in 1815 by William Burn (1789 – 1870, Scottish Architect). The monument was originally intended to commemorate the 1st Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley (1769 – 1852, British Soldier) who lead the British to victory in a number of battles against the French after the start of the Napoleonic Wars, which lasted from 1803 until 1815.
This was soon to change however, as just a few days before the monument was due to be completed, Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758 – 1805, British Naval Commander) fought what was to be the final battle against the French, during which the British claimed a decisive victory, and Nelson was tragically killed. Due to the outcome of the historic battle, the Monument was rededicated to Nelson, and all reference to the Duke of Wellington was removed.
Unfortunately, the monument itself would soon become the final casualty of the Napoleonic Wars, as due to poor design work it collapsed just 1 year after it was built. Rather than have Burn redesign and rebuild the monument, the 6th Marquess of Lothian, William Kerr (1763 – 1824) who had originally commissioned it, brought in a man called Archibald Elliot (1760 – 1823, Scottish Architect) to build a new version, and he created the column that still stands today. The project took 7 years to complete, with it being topped out in 1824, proving to be Elliot’s final work, as he sadly passed away before it was finished. This time the monument was officially dedicated to the Duke of Wellington, despite having the vague title of “Waterloo Memorial”, as the Duke was actually the man leading the Battle of Waterloo, even if Nelson is more famously remembered. Today it rises 187 ft above the summit of a large hill called Peniel Heugh, not far from a small village called Ancrum, 5 miles North of Jedburgh.
After some fascinating sight seeing, we were nearing our 1st destination, and we pulled into the town of Coldstream…