Places to Visit in The Scottish Borders: See the Debatable Lands for yourself

Places to visit in the Scottish Borders

Carlisle is known as The Great Border City and that border with Scotland is just a few miles north. If you head up the M6 motorway, the signs for Scotland are alongside those for Gretna Green, a famous spot for north-of-the-border elopements and weddings in days gone by. Gretna Gateway now combines outlet shopping with those unusual weddings in the blacksmith’s shop or a local hotel – look out for hassles brides.

Dumfries and Galloway

Caerlaverock Castle

The region of Dumfries and Galloway extends west from the border and is known for great beaches, beautiful gardens and castles and stately homes of all shapes and sizes. Caerlaverock Castle is a Trip Advisor favourite, known for its unusual triangular shape and moat and close to several glorious Solway birdwatching spots. Drumlanrig Castle and Threave Gardens are also highly recommended.

For the more active of our visitors, the 7 Stanes mountain biking routes draw cyclists from across the UK and beyond and the Galloway Forest Park is renowned for its stargazing (it was the first Dark Sky Park in the UK) and wonderful walking.

Hadrian’s Wall and the Roman border

Hadrian's Wall

No visit to Carlisle is complete without heading north to the Emperor Hadrian’s Wall. It’s actually in England today and starts on the Solway Firth north of Carlisle. It then heads east over the Pennines and into Northumberland.

Many of the original milecastles and forts, ruined barracks and, of course, the Wall itself are clearly visible and open to visitors. You can walk sections of the Wall (there’s a long-distance path the runs its full length) and there are excellent museums and visitor information points at Vindolanda, Birdoswald and Housesteads Roman Fort.

South of the wall, at Lanercost Priory, you’ll find even more history – as well as a great tea shop. Can you spot the engraved stones from Hadrian’s Wall built into the Priory and its walls? There’s been lots of this reconstruction over the centuries and there are farm houses near the Wall more or less built from those Roman stones.

The Debatable Lands

The Debatable Lands

Unsurprisingly, the border between England and Scotland has moved north and south over the years and that uncertainty created turmoil in the late Middle Ages. The Debatable Lands are quite a small area between the Liddel, Esk and Sark rivers and they suffered the attacks of the Scottish, the English and the Border Reivers over a 300-year period.

There’s lots of history here and you can find out more at Tullie House in the centre of Carlisle. Also, if you visit Rheged near Penrith on your drive north, there are links there too as the kingdom of Rheged was an earlier example of conflicted lands near the border.