6 free trips you need to take in Southern Scotland

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I recently wrote and article for Travel Definition about 4 cool free trips you can take in Southern Scotland. I’d like to expand on that because I have since found out about a few more cool places you can see for free in Southern Scotland.

Tip read: Can you complete this Burger Challenge in Innerleithen?

For many of these places somewhere in the Scottish Borders is a good base. I’d suggest Walkerburn or Innerleithen because they are both beautifully picturesque and offer a great range of accommodation, and many more fun things to do which aren’t free. They offer a good range of yummy foods too – check out some of our ‘Travis Eats’ series on YouTube to find out what we think of the food around here.

1. Climb the waterfall at Grey Mares Tale

The Grey Mares Tale is a 60-foot waterfall between Moffat and Innerleithen. It is easily accessible by car and you can actually drive right up to the path that leads you up the hill along by the waterfall. You can follow the path right up to Loch Skeen at the top and its easily climbed even with family.
Southern Scotland
The base of the Grey Mares Tale

There is a big car park which is flat to the right of the waterfall. You can park up and go hiking or even park a campervan nearby and sleep there for the night. Nearby are also some information posts letting you know about the area and offering another flat area if you wanted to bring a picnic.

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Southern Scotland
The information posts about the Grey Mares Tale

2. Relax at St. Marys Loch

St. Marys Loch won’t be the loch you have heard about in Scotland. Of course everyone is mesmerized by Loch Ness and the great tale of The Loch Ness Monster. St. Marys Loch is much smaller and lesser known. To you that means more peace, less noise and more personal time with such a beautiful place.

Tip read: Review: Nashys coffee house

Southern Scotland
St. Marys Loch

There is a pebble ‘beach’ leading into the shallow waters of the loch. The kids can run around having fun without it being dangerous (of course you should always be there and watching them.) There is a wee cafe nearby where you can grab a lovely snack, and there are plenty of little hotels which offer food within an hours drive. You can actually fit St. Marys Loch and The Grey Mares Tale into one day trip from Innerleithen or Walkerburn as they are on the same route and only a short drive apart.

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3. Get lost in the maze at Traquair House

If you haven’t heard about Traquair House it is time for a quick Google search! This house has so much history, and was once occupied by royalty. It is now the home of Catherine Maxwell-Stewart. There are big bear gates which are locked shut on one of the entrances that they say will never open until another Stewart is on the throne.

Southern Scotland
The magnificent Traquair House

You can view the grounds of the house for free, but it costs to go inside. You can also walk in the woodland pathways, check out the store and relax in the walled garden totally free. My favourite free thing to do at Traquair house is to get lose in the maze. It is enormous!

Southern Scotland
Peeking out of the maze to the rear of the house

You can even add Traquair into your day trip to The Grey Mares Tale and St. Marys Loch from Innerleithen, as you pass Traquair on the way to either of those places!

4. Walk the grounds of the first Tibetan Monastery in the West

Down at Eskdalemuir you can find the Samye Ling Tibetan Monastry. You can walk the wonderful grounds for free and enjoy time in the peace garden. There is a lot of beautiful things to see here.

Southern Scotland
Colourful doors at Samye Ling

You can even splash a little cash to enjoy something to eat or buy something in the shop.

Southern Scotland

Southern Scotland

5. Visit the Market Square in Galashiels

The Market Square in Galashiels is a little-known treasure of Southern Scotland. It featured in the song ‘Kayleigh’ by Marillion back in the 80’s but many people do not realize it was a real place. Of course it has been modernized now but its still a really cool place to check out!

Tip read: The history of Walkerburn, Scotland

Southern Scotland
The Market Square, Galashiels

They now have the lyrics of the song engraved into the stone. There are also benches all around where you can sit and enjoy the view, or a nice cup of tea.

 

Southern Scotland
Kids love it too!

7. Take in the view at The Kelpies

The Kelpies are in Falkirk in Southern Scotland, which is an easy day trip from the Scottish Borders. The Kelpies, if you didn’t know, are giant horse-head statues that tower over you.

Southern Scotland
The Kelpies

Impressive huh?

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Southern Scotland
The Kelpies giant horse statue

Have you enjoyed any other free trips in Southern Scotland you’d like to share with us?

Tip read: A soggy day in the Scottish Borders

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Amy from Two Drifters has a great list of free things to do in Edinburgh for those looking for things to do in the city. You can get to Edinburgh from the Borders in around an hour.

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55 Comments

  • Sadly, I have not done any of these on my visits to Scotland. There is so much to see and do in beautiful Scotland, I am not surprised that you added a few more to your list, too. Beautiful nature and wonderful people.

  • A great piece filled with really good tips for visiting this part of Scotland! I really like the sound of St Mary’s Loch, and I’ve actually heard of Innerleithen! The maze at Traquair House looks fun for adults and kids too 🙂

  • The Grey Mares Tale waterfall looks perfect with the parking close by and yes, perfect if you bring sandwiches too. St. Marys Loch on a clear day looks like the perfect loch to make some reflection photography, even on the day you went I can see a good reflection. I’ll google Traquair House and also the Tibetan monastery, very interesting!

    • Thank you 🙂 it is a great loch, we need more professional pictures now we have a better camera and sense of photography

  • St.Mary’s Loch looks beautiful. I’ve also heard of only Loch Ness. As you’ve rightly put, the less popular the place is, the more peaceful and beautiful it is! I wanted to see atleast 1 maze when I was in UK, but unfortunately that never happened!

    • Aww that is a shame! You know now where to find one if you come back 🙂 would would love the history of Traquair House

  • WOW! I love all the pictures. Scotland is one of my dream trips. I actually hope to go there for our 5th anniversary in a few years. I can’t wait for more posts and photos from your trip!

  • Thank you for the great post! It’s nice to know there’s some great things out there that won’t break the bank! Deifnitely need to go to Scotland ASAP.

  • Great info! I’ve never really thought about visiting Scotland until I met a friend last summer who is studying there and now I am more interested in going 🙂 Traquair House looks and sounds really cool. I’d love to give the maze a try! And I’d especially love to photograph it – it looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

    • I bet your pictures would show it better than mine! If you ever do visit I have lots of tips as I’ve lived here for many years

  • I had no idea that there is a Tibetan Monastery in Scotland! I would love to visit it. Actually your post comes right on time as I am planning a get away to Scotland for the August bank holiday. And the places you have suggested are really unique and so interesting. The Kelpies is very intriguing as well, I wonder what is their story…

  • The Samye Ling Tibetan Monastry is definitely somewhere we’d love to check out. I’m trying to convince my husband to head to Scotland next year and he loves the word “free” so I’m sending him this post! Those horse statues also look really cool!

  • I’m always looking for new sights to see that I haven’t heard of before, and I will admit that I haven’t heard of any of these. They all look very interesting. Who would have thought there would be a Tibetan monastery there? The hedge maze looks cool, but I think I would have flashbacks to “The Shining.” What a beautiful landscape to escape to.

    • Hahahaha! Yeah it might be a little creepy if you watch that movie recently! I know it was only recently I found out about the monastery and I have lived in the area 26 years

  • There are so many beautiful places in Scotland, and all these road trips look stunning, but sadly I did not do any of them. I only visited Loch Ness. If I know early I should have visited St. Marys Loch because I prefer visiting places that are less touristy. I wish I could return to Scotland checking out all the places you mentioned, maybe have an afternoon tea at the Market Square in Galashiels

  • These are awesome places to visit in Scotland. I watched the two videos. Travis look adorable. It is nice that you let him try different kinds of food. I have been curious about the Loch Ness monster after I watched the The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. I would love to visit the St. Mary’s Loch and there is another castle too. However, I cannot remember the name.

  • I didn’t realize that there are that many free trips in Scotland! I need to try some of these should I come back to this beautiful country. The market square sounds like such a fun spot to explore!

    • It is pretty cool, quite small though. There is lots to do nearby and you can grab a train nearby to Edinburgh for the day 🙂

  • This post is so great! I love free stuffs :D. I didn’t know there are many free trips in Scotland though ( I don’t know much about the area), so thanks a lot for the information. By the way, Travis is so cute and adorable.

  • So many great trips to take in Southern Scotland! I love how vibrant the Tibetan Monastry’s door is, and those details wow. Your video series is adorable! So cute.

  • I have lived for a year in Scotland but I ahve never heard of these places and especially the Tibetan monastery. Great recommendations. I must come back and see more.

  • These trips seem absolutely beautiful. When I visit scotland, budget is going to be a concern for me. So, I will be looking for free stuffs to enjoy. Your post will come useful then

  • Traquair House looks like an absolute dream! I love how they refuse to open the gates until another Stewart is on the thrown. Does Scotland have its own monarchy or are they referring to the British monarchy? Also are all of these spots in separate towns around southern Scotland?

  • We have only been to Scotland a couple of times (Loch Lomand and the Edinburgh Festival) but we would love to visit again and just wander around in our own time. The countryside does look beautiful.

  • I have never een to Scotand and it is high time I did. I actually iked the Traquair House , is it aso allowed to stay on the grounds during night. My surprise is at finding a Tibetan Monsatery in Scotland. Never once Imagined this.

    • I am not sure if you can stay there at night, but there is a camp ground a couple of miles from there with all the facilities you would need

  • Scotland is so beautiful and the landscapes so enthralling that one could spend hours and days, just admiring them. These trips are all wonderful and invaluable even though they are free. The grounds of the first Monastery are really enigmatic.

  • Scotland looks so amazing–I’ve always wanted to visit! All of these stops look great. I would love to check out the Kelpies and the waterfall at Grey Mares Tale! I’ve never heard of either, but they both look really pretty!

  • Thanks for putting this together! Scotland remains to date one of my favorite trips – we did a Haggis bus tour through the north, and it’s inspired me to plan a return trip but this time rent a car so we have more time to explore by ourselves. I obviously need to include time for the south 🙂 Thanks for the tips!

  • I lived in the UK for 2 years and sadly never made it to Scotland but hoping I can go back and explore in the summer. It seems like such a beautiful place!

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