A colourful house in Jedburgh
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  GOOD THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN JEDBURGH
JEDBURGH ABBEY, ABBEY BRIDGE END
Unlike some abbeys which are largely in ruins, Jedburgh's is still pretty much intact. It has walls and doors and windows, and is really only missing a roof to make the whole thing complete. It is, let me tell you, a nice abbey. Sometimes you wander amidst the ruins of such places, touching stone and trying to home in on ancient vibes and the spirits of yesteryear, and often you feel very little. At Jedburgh Abbey I felt a lot. I felt a great inner calm and peace, and it was a place in which I reckoned I could stay for longer than I would be allowed. Inside, there's some good stuff. As well as being visually stunning, there is a fascinating vault where the Earls of Lothian lie buried, the small space now occupied by the pale stone body of the Eighth Marquis of Lothian. Outside, they have an excellent assortment of plants, all labelled, so you can see the sort of herbs and fruits that might have been grown when the abbey was in use. There is, for example, Melrose Apples and Scotch Red Rough Gooseberries and all manner of intriguing varieties.
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS' VISITOR CENTRE
A lovely creaky old house located in Queen Street. The house itself is a joy, and there can be nothing nicer than exploring such ancient piles. But throw in the small fact that Mary Queen of Scots spent a full four weeks here back in 1566, and you have something a bit special. Inside the rooms whose floorboards groan with each footstep, there are some fascinating items on display. There is, for example, The Breadalbane Portrait of Mary Queen of Scots. It was painted some fifty years after her death, and is said to be a poor likeness. It appears to show a rather unattractive woman with a large nose. There is also a room with a secret panel, although I'm not going to tell you what's in it because... well, it's a secret. They also have a pair of Mary's shoes, along with a print of a nineteenth century photograph showing Bothwell's mummified head. But the star attraction is probably the death mask of Mary Queen of Scots. It has been painted, and shows Mary with a serene expression that in no way amply conveys the horror of having one's head removed with an axe. To recover, you could retire to the house's peaceful and quite lovely pear-tree garden. NOTE - the Mary Queen of Scots' Visitor Centre is free. FREE!
JEDBURGH CASTLE JAIL & MUSEUM, CASTLEGATE
Again, this is a free attraction, and it's a good one. As well as interesting displays giving some history of Jedburgh, you can wander into the cell-blocks of the 1820s prison and stand in individual cells imagining what it must have been like locked up long ago. What is probably most interesting of all is some of the details of those who were incarcerated here. There was, for example, a thirty-seven-year-old vagrant from Ireland called Catherine Mabon. She was sentenced to thirty days in 1851 for the theft of potatoes, a poignant and possibly understandable crime given that in the late 1840s Ireland suffered its worst ever potato famine, one that saw over a million people starve to death. One can imagine Catherine perhaps making her way to Scotland to escape the blight, finding herself on hard times, stealing a few potatoes, then being jailed. Oh how very very sad.
CONTRARY TO THE JOCULAR RAMBLINGS IN THE MAIN JEDBURGH PAGE OF THIS WEBSITE, THE PEOPLE IN JEDBURGH ARE IN FACT EXCEEDINGLY FRIENDLY. I ACTUALLY HAD FOLK STOP ME IN THE STREET TO LEND A HAND WHEN MY FACIAL EXPRESSION CLEARLY SAID THAT I NEEDED IT. BUT IT DOES CONCERN ME THAT SOME PLACE AS STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL AS JEDBURGH SHOULD HAVE SUCH A POOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM. HOW CAN WE EVER HOPE TO ENCOURAGE TOURISM TO THE AREA WHEN THERE ARE NO TRAINS AND THE LAST BUS OUT OF THE TOWN BACK TO EDINBURGH LEAVES AT 17.15?
OF COURSE, WHAT THIS ACTUALLY MEANS IS THAT STAYING FOR MORE THAN A DAY IS HIGHLY DESIRABLE, AND THERE CANNOT BE A MORE VISUALLY APPEALING PLACE TO STAY THAN JEDBURGH AND THE SCOTTISH BORDERS.
JEDBURGH TOWN TRAIL - A LITTLE WALK
You can get a leaflet titled 'Jedburgh Town Trail' from the Tourist Information Office in Abbey Place. There's a small charge for it. It gives you full details of a DIY historical walk around the town, taking in stuff like the abbey and jail, Mary Queen of Scots' Visitor Centre and some of the town's narrow vennels.
BORDERS ABBEYS WAY & ST CUTHBERT'S WAY
It is very hard to know where to start with regard to walks in the area of Jedburgh. The area is quite simply festooned with long-distance paths. Those in the vicinity include St Cuthbert's Way and the Borders Abbeys Way. If you buy a map (Ordnance Survey, Landranger series, Sheet 74, Kelso, 1:50000 scale or one-and-a-quarter inches to a mile) you'll see paths all over the place. The choice is endless. Of course, the rather unfortunate thing about Jedburgh is that it sits right at the bottom edge of this map, and you'd probably be better also having Sheet 80.
The Borders Abbeys Way passes right through Jedburgh and is 68 miles long, taking in wonderful abbeys at Kelso, Jedburgh, Dryburgh and Melrose.
The St Cuthbert's Way passes just north of Jedburgh, to the east of Ancrum, and is 60 miles long. I have walked the St Cuthbert's Way, and although it was many many years ago I still retain wonderful memories. In particular I remember that first sight of the sea as I passed St Cuthbert's Cave on my way to Lindisfarne. It was such a wonderful sight that I bubbled like a baby, so much so that even as I type this I have tears in my eyes. This is most certainly one long-distance walk that I would do again.
Although there are numerous leaflets and books dealing with these walks, you will always need the appropriate Ordnance Survey maps covering the whole walk. If you start by simply looking at the map I mention above, then you can see the routes. Before committing yourself, try a day walk to see how you get on then, if you like it, decide which one to start with and buy the adjacent relevant maps. To be honest, one of the many pleasures of a long-distance walk is to be found in the initial planning stage, when you sit at a table in your house, maps unfolded, and write out a schedule of how far each day will take you, where you will eat and drink and stay, and other things. I cannot rate walks in the Scottish Borders highly enough. They are just magnificent. [CLICK HERE FOR A SPECIAL PAGE WITH AN INTERACTIVE OS MAP OF THE JEDBURGH AREA SHOWING THE ST CUTHBERT'S WAY, THE BORDERS ABBEYS WAY, AND OTHER PATHS.]
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map
Looking inside Jedburgh Abbey
Realxing in the garden of Mary Queen of Scots' Visitor Centre in Jedburgh
The exercise yard at Jedburgh Castle Jail
Sign for Jedburgh Town Trail
Countryside between Jedburgh and Ancrum
Check our shop for books on Mary Queen of Scots