Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Rural Tranquility ; It Has Been the Scene of Bloody Battles and Romantic Fiction. ALEX HICKEY Discovers That There's Family Fun to Be Had in the Scottish Borders, Too

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Rural Tranquility ; It Has Been the Scene of Bloody Battles and Romantic Fiction. ALEX HICKEY Discovers That There's Family Fun to Be Had in the Scottish Borders, Too

Article excerpt

IT might lack the grandeur of the Highlands or the draw of Edinburgh at the height of the festival season but there is an understated beauty to the Scottish Borders that should not be overlooked. With its Royal Burghs and market towns of great charm, the great salmon rivers of the mighty Tweed and the Ettrick, and the rolling Cheviot hills, it's been rightly described as an "oasis of rural tranquillity". The overwhelming impression is of a place at ease, at peace with itself, which it is. But the bucolic scenery masks a turbulent past which the ruined castles, keeps and abbeys of Selkirk and Jedburgh hint at. In feet, like all borderlands, this region has been fought over throughout the ages, by those auldest of enemies - England and Scotland. Even more, it's been a staging post as armies from both sides rolled through it to clash elsewhere. Almost all the great figures from Scotland's history have left their mark -

Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart here: Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie, even Braveheart himself, William Wallace, who was made Guardian of Scotland at Ettrick Forest, long before his famous victory at Bannockbum. We stayed for three nights at Knowpark Cottage on the Whitmuir sporting estate, about four miles from Selkirk. The three-bedroomed cottage was cosy and comfortable, easily absorbing a family of five with mountain bikes, and clothing for any eventuality. Snow boots, sun cream, macs and shorts just about cover the bases for a Scottish summer. An ex-farm cottage, Knowpark has been completely modernised by its American owners, but they have managed to balance the old with the new, installing modern central heating and a fully equipped spacious kitchen but retaining an open fire. There's also a well-stocked bookshelf and digital television with access to broadband. Tucked away at the end of a country road, it is situated on a working farm which proved a big draw with our children. More safety-conscious parents can rest assured it's pretty quiet and the cottage itself is completely self-contained with a huge garden for the little ones to run around in. …

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