Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Day Tour Through the Scottish Borderlands

Yes, we're back in the states now, but I got behind on blogging about our trip, so I am attempting to catch up on the days I missed!
On our trip to Scotland in 2010, we explored the highlands. This time around, we took a day trip through the borderlands south of Edinburgh. The weather was cold and rainy, but the lush countryside was breathtakingly beautiful. Quaint brick homes dotted the green rolling hills while baby lambs frolicked in the fields. There was something peaceful and ethereal about the place that settled deep inside my bones.

*blissful sigh*

Emily, our tour guide, had bright red hair and an accent to die for. She was a thousand percent adorable and I had to tell my hubby he could not take her home (though I can see why he would want to). After driving through the countryside, we got out to stretch our legs and go for a walk to see a statue of William Wallace. Emily explained that Wallace was from Glasgow (therefore not a highlander) so would never have worn a kilt, but that he is often pictured as such. Worse, the kilt he's wearing in this statue doesn't come to the knee like a kilt should, so it's more of a mini-skirt. LOL Poor William: hung, drawn, and quartered for his country and then pictured wearing a wee skirt in his manly statue.
We stopped for a good long while at Melrose Abbey, which was destroyed in the mid-1500s when King Henry VIII went on his rampage, destroying anyone and everyone who wouldn't convert from Catholicism to the Church of England (aka The Church of Henry). England and Scotland is riddled with ruins because of that wicked king. *shakes fist*
That being said, Melrose Abbey still had a majestic quality, perhaps even more so because it was in ruins. The mist settling over the hills through the empty window frames was an awe-inspiring sight.
We were able to climb a tight, narrow staircase to the top of one tower. The view over the village was worth the effort, even in the rain.

Down was easier than up!

Robert the Bruce's heart is buried at Melrose Abbey
As we drove through Galashiels, our guide explained that "Borders Law" used to be in effect, which was different from English Law or Scots Law. Essentially, raiding neighboring farms was common place and if you were caught red-handed, you could be executed for the crime, no questions asked. Emily told us the wonderful story of Sir Gideon Murray, who managed to catch Willie Scott trying to steal some cattle and resolved to hang him the next day. Now Murray had a bunch of daughters, but none of them could be married until a groom was found for his eldest, a lass with the nickname of "Muckle Moo Meg" meaning "Big Mouth Meg" for her unsightly large kisser. Murray's wife convinces him to give young Willie the option: marry Meg or hang from the gallows.
He chooses to hang.


Well, he changes his mind on the way to the noose (as most most men would!) and marries Muckle Moo Meg, a marriage that unites the two rival families, lasts decades, and produces twelve children. I love it when a story has a happy ending!
Our last stop was Rosslyn Chapel, where they didn't let us take photographs inside. The speaker gave a brief overview of the history of the chapel, noting that prior to The DaVinci Code book and movie, they received about 30,000 visitors each year. Last year, they had about 180,000! They've built an impressive visitor's center and have undertaken massive restoration work with the admission fees they get (about $2 million per year now). Intricate stone carvings decorated every square inch of the inside, making it a much different type of chapel than any we'd seen. Definitely worth a visit, even with the steep entry fee.


  1. I can not express how jealous I am! So gorgeous!

  2. The staircase looks like the inside of a seashell! I love the Melrose Abbey. What a beautiful place. I never read the Da Vinci Code, but the Chapel looks like a fabulous place to visit.

    Thanks for the tour :)