A Borders Beer Break via the partially reopened Waverley line.
I’ll defer to Tom Irvin for the definitive view on the merits of the Borders Railway, but it could do with a buffet car and a stop between Stow and Gorebridge, perhaps to explore Toddle Ferry at Hoppringle.
I know how much our American readers enjoy historical documents, so here’s our itinerary. Puts the Dead Sea Scrolls in their place, heh ?
On the way Charles and I debated whether we could and should break our journey on the way on the way back. A look at the WhatPub entry for the George in Melrose suggested that;
“Opening times have recently become a bit erratic” Thanks for that, then.
Two calls to the George just after lunchtime went to answerphone, so we thought we’d head there first, in case erratic meant “until the lunchtime diner leaves“.
You’ll have noticed that the end of the line isn’t Melrose, but Tweedbank, a village somehow claimed by Galashiels despite being the Melrose side of the river.
The half-hour walk along the Southern Uplands Way gives you some classic views (top photo), and a chain bridge offering a choice between a £2 fine or imprisonment,
before you weave into town past the only thing I associate with Melrose.
As I understand it, the Melrose Sevens is a “rugger” tournament for chaps who’ve paid a minimum of £7,000 guineas a term for their private education. One for the bucket list.
Melrose High Street looked quiet, though it turned out the upmarket little cafes and bistros at the Market Square were packed with gentlefolk. Just one (non-residential) pub, apparently, and very publike it looked too.
A further call to the George at 2pm had drawn a blank, so we approached a distinctly unprepossessing small hotel expecting the worst.
It’s the sort of family-run “unchanging hotel with faded grandeur” that’s the mainstay of Scottish rural tourism, and a fair few GBG entries, and not without a certain charm.
It was empty though, so even the Beer Guide sticker didn’t reassure as we noseyed around, contemplating a Pubmeister-style “help yourself” approach. Charles knows his way round a handpump, apparently.
But then, just like Mr Benn’s shopkeeper, (if he was a she and from Poland), the pleasant barmaid appeared with effusive apologies for an unstaffed bar. A decent beer range included some Campervan bottles, but you can’t tick a GBG pub with bottled beer.
The Allendale was particularly good, cool and tasty considering lack of turnover (NBSS 3.5). I suspect an evening visit would have seen it in an even better light, and any pub with a SpongeBob on the bar is OK with me.
We’d have been too late for lunch here, but picked up macaroni cheese and scotch pies, and Ecclefechan tart from Alex Dalgetty, a sort of Betty’s in the Borders.
We scoffed them in ten minutes at the top of the High Street, and life was perfect.
It didn’t last.