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Explore the Borders for relaxing breaks in Scotland

It's easy to think of Scotland as being all about the Highlands and the lochs. The Borders area though offers plenty of contrasting charms to recommend it as an ideal destination for relaxing breaks in Scotland.

The quiet old spa town of Moffat was briefly fashionable in Victorian times, but now languishes in well-preserved peace amidst beautiful countryside. It's a useful base for following the Southern Upland hiking trail, or visiting the very pretty waterfall at the Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve.

The Moffat House Hotel (www.bestwestern.co.uk) is an 18th-century country mansion set in charming grounds. Rooms cost from £49 per person per night. Check for special offers on weekend stays and festive bookings.

Further east, the town of Melrose is famous for its beautiful, ruined 12th-century Abbey. It's a great base for hiking and biking explorations of the nearby country, or just for strolls alongside the River Tweed. Book lovers will enjoy the Borders Book Festival which takes place every June.

Kirklands Cottages (www.kirklandscottages.co.uk) offer a variety of self-catering properties in the Melrose area, clustered around a Georgian courtyard near the Tweed. Cottages are suitable from 2 to 7 guests, and prices range from £300 to £500 per week.

Fans of the novelist Sir Walter Scott, the author of Rob Roy and Ivanhoe, will want to visit his home at Abbotsford, two miles from the old textile-mill town of Galashiels. Scott is buried in the ruins of Dryburgh Abbey, with views over his beloved Eildon Hills. Exploring the area makes for a relaxing and informative day out.

For further ideas on the huge range of attractions, along with advice on accommodation and eating out in the area, www.visitscotland.com is a useful source of information on all kinds of relaxing breaks in Scotland.

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