Scotland’s Southern Uplands

Photo by Moyan Brenn

Rolling hills, sheep farming and few visitors

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The Southern Uplands are probably Scotland’s most overlooked region. This is a place of rolling hills, sheep pastures, forested valleys, lazy rivers and with a Lowland culture of its own.


Over the centuries this border country between Scotland and England was repeatedly raided and destroyed by the English and was long a lawless zone in which Border Reivers (raiders) thrived on cattle rustling.

But it was also a centre of commerce and religion, and developed it’s own hybrid Anglo-Scottish culture, which under the Stuarts came to dominate much of the rest of Scotland.

Many sights in the Southern Uplands reflect its contributions to Scottish history: the Burns Museum devoted to poet Robert Burns; Abbotsford House, the former home of novelist Sir Walter Scott and various abbeys – such as Melrose Abbey – which now lie ruined but remain hugely impressive for their fine medieval and renaissance architecture.


The borders is also known for its passion for rugby, particularly its big annual sevens competition, and for its common riding festivals festivals – age old events that involve galloping around towns on horseback and then drinking heavily (though not necessarily in that order!).


And for the last decade or so the Southern Uplands have also become renown for their great mountain biking in several forests centres – the largest being Glentress.

The road cycling is less celebrated, but undeservedly so, since underused scenic roads stretch out in multiple directions from towns like Peebles and Galashiels in the Tweed Valley – see the cycle scottish borders website.


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