Smailholm Tower

Borders Region

Perched on a rocky knoll above a small lake, this narrow stone tower provides one of the most evocative sights in the Borders and keeps its bloody history alive. Although displays inside are sparse, the panoramic view from the top is worth the climb. The tower is 6 miles west of Kelso, a mile south of Smailholm village on the B6397.

The nearby privately owned farm, Sandyknowe, was owned by Sir Walter Scott's grandfather. As Scott himself recognised, his imagination was fired by the ballads and stories he heard as a child at Sandyknowe, and by the ruined tower a stone's throw away.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Borders Region attractions

1. Mellerstain House

2.82 MILES

Finished in 1778, this is considered to be Scotland's finest Robert Adam–designed mansion. It is huge and famous for its classic elegance, ornate…

2. Dryburgh Abbey

3.44 MILES

This is the most beautiful and complete of the Border abbeys, partly because the neighbouring town of Dryburgh no longer exists (another victim of the…

3. Floors Castle

4.54 MILES

Grandiose Floors Castle is Scotland's largest inhabited mansion, home to the Duke of Roxburghe, and overlooks the Tweed about a mile west of Kelso. Built…

4. Melrose Abbey

5.57 MILES

Perhaps the most interesting of the Border abbeys, red-sandstone Melrose was repeatedly destroyed by the English in the 14th century. The remaining broken…

5. Priorwood Garden


By Melrose Abbey, this pretty walled garden has a venerable apple orchard with over 90 varieties as well as a garden dedicated to flowers for drying.

6. Kelso Abbey

5.65 MILES

Once one of the richest abbeys in southern Scotland, Kelso Abbey was built by the Tironensians, an order founded in Picardy and brought to the Borders…

7. Harmony Garden

5.77 MILES

This well-laid-out formal garden is a pleasant spot to while away a sunny afternoon, with views to the Eildon Hills and a riot of flowers in spring. The…

8. Abbotsford

8.08 MILES

Just outside Melrose, this is where to discover the life and works of Sir Walter Scott, to whom we arguably owe both the modern novel and our mind's-eye…