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Kelso (Scotland)

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Kelso is a small market town in the Borders region of southern Scotland. Population c.6,400 as of 2001.


Kelso square

Locally known as Kelsae, the name Kelso is thought to be derived from the Scots "Calk Heugh" or "Chalk Hill" in reference to the chalky soil of the land near the river at the west of the town.

Much of Kelso's attraction lies in its picturesque setting and interesting architecture. An abbey town, and since the demise of neighbouring Roxburgh, a market town, Kelso has a unique combination in the borders of flemish inspired architecture and large French style market square. There is a plethora of historic sites in the surrounding area and its setting at the junction of the famed Salmon rivers the Tweed and the Teviot makes it a popular destination for leisure fishing. Agriculture still plays an important role in the economy of Kelso and its environs though leisure, electronics and engineering industries are now a major source of employment. Springwood Park show ground hosts a number of notable events annually bringing tourists to the town and helping to support local small business.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The nearest major airport to Kelso is Edinburgh International Airport [2] which is 50 miles/81km away.

By car[edit]

Kelso is probably best accessed by taking the A688 or A689 off the main north-south road in the Borders region, the A68.

By train[edit]

Kelso is 25 miles from the nearest station at Berwick Upon Tweed on the East Coast Mainline. Bus connections can be erratic though taxis are usually available at the station.

By Bus[edit]

A regular service runs to and from Edinburgh (48 miles) and most of the other towns in the Borders can also be reached from Kelso by bus. There is also a less frequent service to Newcastle upon Tyne (66 miles).

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

  • Kelso Abbey [3], maintained by Historic Scotland, admission free - one of the great 'Border Abbeys', Kelso Abbey was built between 1128-1143 and was once one of the wealthiest and grandest monasteries in Scotland. After centuries of decay and destruction, all that remains is the west tower and the transept, still a superb piece of architecture well worth a visit...
    Kelso Abbey
  • Kelso Square The largest market square in Scotland with well preserved 18th and 19th century architecture reminiscent of the low countries.
  • Floors Castle 1 mile North of Kelso (the main gates are in the town), main residence of the Duke of Roxburghe, largest inhabited house in Scotland and open to visitors in the summer months. Art collection, tea room, garden centre and country sports.
  • Roxburgh Castle Ruins of a medieval castle established by David I and birthplace of Alexander III. Roxburgh Castle was strategically important from the 12th to the 15th centuries and the adjoining town of Roxburgh (of which there is now no visible trace) was an important royal burgh and centre of agricultural trade with Europe. The castle is in ruins and very little of the stonework is now visible. There is however an impresive earthwork mound topped by remnants of thick stone fortifications. Remnants of the main gate are visible to the west of the castle. Worth visiting in spring via a pleasant riverside walk by the river Teviot when the weather relatively clement and before an overgrowth of Nettles impedes access.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Championship Dog Show Held in June at Springwood Show Ground.
  • Civic Week A week-long festival in July with horse riding, various competitions and sports days and much alcohol consumed in the local hostelries. Very much a local event.
  • Border Union Show Large and long running (1813) agricultural show ususally held at Springwood Show Ground in late July with livestock judging, funfair and craft, food and drink stalls.
  • St James's Fair Revival of an earlier fair originally held in the burgh of Roxburgh and now held in Kelso Square in early September. Musical entertainment, food and crafts sales are the norm.
  • Kelso Sevens. A well-known rugby tournament held each September.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Kelso Pottery near to The Knowes car park has some interesting studio pottery for sale.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Oscars Wine Bar & Restaurant Horsemarket, in the town centre.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Bellevue House [4] Bed and breakfast with six rooms near to the town centre at a very reasonable cost.
  • Black Swan Hotel [5] Small hotel in Horse Market, just off The Square with bar and food.
  • Cross Keys Hotel [6]Situated on Kelso Square in the centre of the town, this former coaching in offers a good standard of accommodation and food.
  • Ednam House Hotel [7] Former mansion overlooking the River Tweed and Springwood Park is popular with those on fishing vacations.
  • Queens Head Hotel [8].Opposite Ednam House Hotel in Bridge Street. Old coaching inn with contemporary decor.
  • Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course, [9]. Located a few miles south-west of the town.
  • Springwood Bank Bed and Breakfast, 31 Springwood Bank Kelso, TD5 8BA, 01573 224 794‎, [1]. checkin: All Day; checkout: All Day. Springwood Bank Bed and Breakfast Kelso offer a homely and friendly atmosphere with comfortable accommodation at only £30.00 PPPN  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Smailholm Tower [10] 15th century tower house about 5 miles west of Kelso, renovated and open to the public.

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