Sir Walter Scott is a Scottish icon. His novel Waverley is the namesake of Waverley train station (which you will need to use to get to his house!) and there’s a huge monument dedicated to him in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh and even one in Central Park, NYC.
On my third trip to Edinburgh I wanted to get outside the city. My criteria for a short day trip was that it had to be easily accessible by public transportation.
I found the perfect place at Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott. You can spend as little or long as you’d like there. There’s enough to fill an entire day, but it’s also possible to get an overview in just two hours.
How to Get to Abbotsford
1. Purchase a train ticket
Start your journey by booking a train ticket from Edinburgh to Tweedbank. The journey is just under an hour. I used Trainline to book my ticket the night before and paid $15.79 for a roundtrip ticket.
2. Head to Waverley, retrieve tickets
When I bought my ticket, an email was sent to me with a code to use at the station to retrieve my ticket. It’s very simple. When you get to Edinburgh Waverley station, you’ll see several self-serve kiosks.
Type in the code that Trainline sends you in an email or the Trainline app, insert your credit card used to purchase the ticket online and your ticket will print out.
The return ticket will also be printed out, don’t lose it.
4. Get on the train
Next, find the platform. I went at an off-peak time so it was very empty. Just me and one family in the entire car.
I noticed even with the doors closed you have to tap on the door for it to open and enter, or else the train will just leave without you. 😂
The area bordering England and south of Edinburgh is called the Scottish Borders. On the train journey you’ll see lots of green, animals and small towns as you travel into the area.
5. Take a shuttle to Abbotsford
Tweedbank station consists of two platforms so you won’t get lost when finding the shuttle to Abbotsford.
You can walk one mile to the house, or take the shuttle that Abbotsford kindly provides for free transportation from Tweedbank station to Abbotsford. It’s about a five minute ride. Shuttle times coincide with the arrival and departure of the train.
On the way back to Tweedbank, I waited at the shuttle stop with another group who were heading to the town. A very nice volunteer was going to drive them there and asked me if I’d like to catch the earlier train on his way to the town, which worked in my favor.
What to See and Do at Abbotsford
When you get off the shuttle, you’ll be directed to the Visitor Centre.
The Visitor Centre
The Visitor Centre is where you’ll purchase admission tickets. (Note the Visitor Center is open year round but the house and gardens are open from March to November).
Tickets are £11.20 per adult. If you book it online in advance, you’ll save 10%. So I paid £10.08, about $12.24.
Also at the Visitor Centre is an exhibition – a great intro to Sir Walter Scott’s life before you see his house. There’s also a gift shop and cafe (we’ll get to that later!)
Follow the well marked paths towards the main attraction – the house! When you enter, you’ll be given an audio guide available in several languages. Point the device to a number with a sensor in each room and the audio segment will begin.
I listened to everything and spent about 45 minutes in the house.
My favorite part was seeing his library and his study where he wrote. None of the bedrooms are open to the public (this was addressed in the last segment of the audio) but next door, at the Hope Scott Wing is a luxury accommodation.
The accommodation at Abbotsford is suitable for large groups. You can rent the entire wing for up to 15 guests or five bedrooms suitable for 10 guests.
After touring the house, head to the gardens. The walled gardens offer a beautiful view of the house in the distance and flowers in the foreground. This garden was the kitchen garden – fruits and vegetables grown here were prepared in Sir Walter Scott’s kitchen.
Abbotsford overlooks the River Tweed and you can spend an entire day walking along the river and exploring the grounds of the estate.
And when you’re hungry, or before you leave like I did, head back to the Visitor Centre. There’s a cafe upstairs with seating looking out to the house.
It was a bit chilly during my visit so I opted for a table by the floor to ceiling windows. Service was very slow but I enjoyed my roast Aberdeenshire chicken, sunblushed tomatoes and basil pesto sandwich (£7.95) with Fentimans Lemonade (£2.90). You can also have afternoon tea!
Total Day Trip Cost:
Train ticket: USD $15.79
Admission: £10.08 about USD $12
Lunch: £10.85 about USD $13
Total for a day trip to Abbotsford from Edinburgh: Approximately USD $41