On a bright spring morning, 44 Scottish Castles Association members set out from the Barony Castle Hotel (Black Barony) to visit the castles and towers of Peebles. Our route followed the banks of the River Tweed before climbing steeply upwards to our first call, Whytbank Tower. We approached on foot via a beautiful woodland path flanked by a mass of daffodils. This fascinating little tower is secreted among trees and was only rescued in recent years.
After discovering Whytbank's charms we climbed still higher to the remote and splendidly named Windydoors Tower - probably the best preserved bastle house in Scotland - then back down to follow the Tweed all the way to Galashiels and to Old Gala House - another bastle. Unlike Windydoors, Old Gala has always been in occupation and we could admire its impressive painted ceiling and ornate fireplace.
Back by the river to the iconic Traquair House for lunch. The sun was so hot it was hard to believe that we were in Scotland and many of the party sought shade in the gardens or found relief in its famous brewery! Traquair is one of Scotland's classic country houses and lays claim to be the oldest continuously inhabited house in the country. Perhaps...
By now the heat had sapped our strength but we summoned enough energy for our last stop of the day - Nether Horsburgh Castle, a little known 16th century tower house hidden behind mill buildings.
It had been a long day so it was a relief to return to the Black Barony where, over a good dinner, we had the chance to catch up with old acquaintances.
Next morning we travelled first to Henderstoun a handsome country house at whose core lay a tower. This was one of the highlights of the tour, a private dwelling not open to the public and only to Scottish Castles Association members by the special courtesy of its owner.
Our road now left the river and headed inland to the lonely Drochil Castle, palace of the Regent Morton, famously guillotined for the murder of Lord Darnley. All lamented its dangerous state which will soon reduce it to a shapeless mass of masonry. We wisely kept out!
Back to Peebles and the fortified church of the Cross Kirk, followed by lunch in the Tontine Hotel.
Neidpath Castle, high above the Tweed, was the penultimate stop - the strongest castle in the county and so honeycombed with chambers that it took a full two hours to explore.
Last of the day (and of the tour) was Winkston Tower of 1545 hidden amongst farm buildings. Much talk generated amongst members regarding its possible restoration. Once again we were kindly received.
Finally back to the Black Barony where we bade farewell to our friends until we meet again.
Ten castles in two days - if you would have liked to have been there then why not join the Scottish Castles Association? Our next trip, based in Braemar and visiting the castles of Royal Deeside, takes place in September - we would be delighted to welcome you! Click HERE to join today.