Wonderful opportunity to visit one of Scotland’s most picturesque regions
The Tweed Valley has a remarkable selection of castles & country houses
Private visits to houses normally not available to groups
Gardens will be at their mid-Summer best - always later ‘north of the Border’
Tour based at recently refurbished 5* Schloss Roxburghe Hotel near Kelso
The River Tweed lies amidst spectacular scenery that has seen remarkable events in the shared history of Scotland and England. Consequently, this ‘Border’ country has long been fought over by the two kingdoms. Its castles and houses bear testimony not only to the tenacity of the great local families but also to their wide use of architectural styles. These mark the transition from a period of intense strife to one of peace and prosperity. Indeed, as most non-Scots when travelling north tend to bypass this marvellous part of the United Kingdom, its architecture, art collections and wonderful gardens are not widely known.
The architectural styles range from the truly defensive castles of the Medieval period to the first hesitant introduction of classical motifs in the seventeenth century. After the Act of Union under Queen Anne, the usual procession of Palladian, Rococo and Neo-classical vocabularies all found their way north. In the nineteenth century, the influence of Sir Walter Scott led to great enthusiasm for a more ‘eclectic’ approach to using the past, culminating in the Scots ‘Baronial’ style of the Victorian period. Many of these houses were filled with remarkable collections of paintings and works of art, and almost all are still in private hands.
Traquair Castle is the perfect introduction to the area’s varied history, reflected in wide range of historic contents. The ‘castle’ tradition was much revived in late Georgian times and Floors Castle is a splendid example of this tendency at its most picturesque. Paxton and Mellerstain retain their remarkable collections of furniture by Chippendale and paintings by Alan Ramsay. Monteviot presents different solutions to the problems of family life in historic interiors. The great ‘unknown’ house of the Borders, Marchmont, has been spectacularly restored and we shall have a private, day-long visit, guided by the curator.
Equally fascinating will be the wonderful gardens and landscapes. Given that the seasons are a few weeks behind those of central and southern England, the tour dates should ensure a delayed ‘flush’ of Scottish abundance. Of these, the gardens at Kailzie, Monteviot and Carolside should be particularly splendid in mid-July; so too the recently reinvigorated walled garden borders at Floors.
We shall stay at the handsome ‘Baronial’ style 5* Schloss Roxburghe, recently purchased by a German group, hence its amusing upgrade to ‘Schloss’ status - worry not, the staff are still kitted out in tartan and not lederhosen! Originally opened by the late Duke of Roxburghe as a small, comfortable hotel for golfers, after several changes of ownership it has now emerged from a significant upgrade. Rooms are well equipped and very comfortable and the hotel has an excellent bistro style restaurant. There is a swimming pool and spa complex, with golf available for those so inclined.
Day by day
- Day 1: Sunday 14 July
- Participants should arrive independently at Schloss Roxburghe by late afternoon. Our first group dinner will be in a private room in the hotel’s original building. Wine, water and coffee will accompany our group lunches and dinners.
- Day 2: Monday 15 July
- Our morning will begin with a drive up the Tweed Valley to Traquair, surely one of the most romantic of houses? It has remained mostly unchanged since the eighteenth century and remains in the family ownership. We then follow the Tweed further upriver towards Peebles to visit Kailzie for a light group lunch. The garden at Kailzie was created in recent years by Lady Buchan-Hepburn, and now under new ownership they continue to develop in new and interesting ways. We return to the hotel and the evening will be free.
- Day 3: Tuesday 16 July
- Today we drive down the Tweed Valley to Paxton, a Palladian house by the Adam brothers, built for a branch of the Hume family. Hardly touched since built, it is full of fine furniture supplied directly by Thomas Chippendale with a good collection of family portraits. Throughout the house we shall find excellent Rococo and Neo-classical plasterwork, while in the later picture gallery we shall see some fine paintings on loan from the National Galleries of Scotland. We have a simple group lunch at Paxton after which we travel to nearby Manderston, now widely known as the basis for the popular TV series Life in an Edwardian Country House. We shall have a private tour and on our return to our hotel the evening will be free.
- Day 4: Wednesday 17 July
- Dryburgh Abbey is the most romantically sited of the medieval Border abbeys, perched dramatically above the River Tweed. The ruins are well preserved and are a fitting resting place for the man who ‘invented’ our romantic sense of Scotland’s past, Sir Walter Scott. We continue the short distance for a private visit to Carolside, where we shall be the guests of Anthony and Rose Foyle. The house (where we shall have lunch) is modelled on the famous London townhouse of the letter-writing Lord Chesterfield and has wonderful contents. However, our main focus will be the gardens, famed for its remarkable collection of old roses, set within luxuriant borders. We end the day with a private visit to Mellerstain, the magnificent house designed for the Earls of Haddington in two stages by William Adam and his son, Robert. For some, the house contains the best Adam interiors in Scotland – the Library is indeed one of his greatest creations while the other staterooms are almost as good. These hold a series of fine portraits by Allan Ramsay, Scotland’s premier portraitist of the eighteenth century and some excellent furniture. We return to the hotel where we have a group dinner in the hotel’s modern bistro.
- Day 5: Thursday 18 July
- We spend today at the remarkable Marchmont House. Built for the Earl of Marchmont in the mid eighteenth century and long neglected, it recently returned to private ownership and has been fully restored and furnished by the Burge family. We begin with coffee on arrival and then tour the principal state rooms, now filled with paintings and furniture of exceptional quality from the Georgina to the Arts and Crafts periods. There is also a notable collection of textiles. After lunch we turn our attentions to the no less extraordinary collection of British sculptures within and outside of the house: these include works by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth to contemporary pieces by, amongst others, Anthony Gormley. We return to the hotel and the evening will be free.
- Day 6: Friday 19 July
- We drive into Kelso for a private visit to Floors Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Roxburghe. A vast ‘baronial pile’ it has some wonderful contents. After coffee we continue to the castle’s Walled Garden for a guided introduction to the amazing borders after which there will be free time in Kelso for lunch (not included). We continue to Monteviot, the home of the Marquess of Lothian. The house has been tactfully restored and remodelled in recent years to provide a splendid family home. There are fine paintings by, amongst others, Van Dyck and Daniel Mytens, and the gardens are particularly handsome. We return to the hotel and in the early evening we have dinner in a highly regarded local restaurant near Melrose, the Hoebridge.
- Day 7: Saturday 20 July
- This morning we leave the hotel after breakfast and disperse.
- Price: £2,775 per person
- Deposit: £375
- Single Supplement: £475 (Double Room for Sole Use)
6 nights with breakfast at the 5* SCHLOSS Roxburghe
Options available on request
3 dinners & 4 lunches with wine, water & coffee, all local transfers, entry fees & gratuities
Travel to from SCHLOSS Roxburghe, 3 dinners & 2 lunches
Weather Conditions for Edinburgh in July are:
Average Temperature between: 11oC - 18oC / 52oF - 64oF
Rainfall: 83mm / 3.2 inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.