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 view of Scotland. This whimsical, fabulous house where he lived – and which ruined him when his publishers went bust – really brings this 19th-century writer to life. The grounds on the banks of the Tweed are lovely, and Scott drew much inspiration from rambles in the surrounding countryside.
A modern visitor centre displays memorabilia and gives an intriguing overview of the man; the smart audio-guide system – with one designed for kids – will then show you round the house. In the house are some gloriously over-the-top features, with elaborate carvings, enough swords and dirks to equip a small army, a Chinese drawing room and a lovely study and library.
A wing of the house offers luxurious self-catering accommodation designed for large groups.
Abbotsford is 2 miles west of Melrose; buses between Galashiels and Melrose will drop you at the nearby Tweedbank roundabout. It's an easy walk from Tweedbank station, reachable in under an hour from Edinburgh. You can also walk from Melrose along the southern bank of the Tweed. There's a cafe-restaurant atop the visitor centre.