Skirling House - Nearby towns

The cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, with their many cultural, architectural and historical attractions, are both less than an hour from the village by bus or car, and there are several attractive towns nearby, each with its own distinctive character.


The nearest town to Skirling House is Biggar, a town notable for its shops and museums. Biggar High Street is worth a stroll for its many independent retailers, coffee shops and pubs. The independent bookseller Atkinson Pryce has a great choice of new and second hand books as well as coffee and comfy seats for browsing. There are some excellent gift shops and two delicatessens both of which serve a good cup of coffee. There are no fewer than five clothes shops and a very tempting shoe and handbag store. Local Taylor’s ice-cream and a great selection of chocolates are to be found at Cones and Candies, and there are several independent food stores. Add to this Boa’s, the ironmonger that stocks everything and award winning public toilets and how can you miss out on the Biggar shopping experience.


Peebles is an ancient and elegant Royal Burgh set beside the River Tweed. It has been named the “Top Independent Retail Town” in Scotland because of the wide range of distinctive shopping opportunities. (We can certainly recommend Forsyth’s the butcher, where we buy our bacon, black pudding and sausages.) It is also a centre for the performing arts, with the Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre welcoming touring theatre and dance companies, hosting concerts and mounting exhibitions of art and craft work throughout the year. Three miles to the east of the town is the internationally recognised Glentress Mountain Bike centre, which offers some of the best (if at times a little unnerving) mountain biking in the United Kingdom. It’s one way of working off a Skirling House breakfast, we suppose.


Moffat is a charming town just three minutes off the M74 motorway. In former times it was a spa town, and there’s a museum to recall those days. Today the town has a wide variety of shops selling books, fine produce and fragrances. People in Moffat take great pride in their gardens, and the hanging baskets in the town add a really welcoming touch. On a somewhat larger scale the Community Nature Reserve, recently established, comprises three distinct habitat areas: a large pond with trees, a flooded meadow and an agricultural field.

Moffat is also the starting point for one of the most picturesque journeys in Southern Scotland. If you take the road to Selkirk you will go through the finest U-shaped valley in Southern Scotland to arrive at the Grey Mare’s Tail, a quite spectacular waterfall. Further on you come to two lochs, the Loch of the Lowes and St. Mary's Loch. Between the two is Tibbie Shiel's Inn, a cafe, with a most impressive statue of James Hogg, “the Ettrick Shepherd” who wrote “Confessions of a Justified Sinner”, a classic which only had to wait for a mere century or so before becoming a best seller. From St Mary’s Loch you can either turn north into Tweedsmuir and see the Devil’s Beef Tub, an intriguing bit of geology, or else carry on to Peebles, which is also a good shopping town.


Thornhill in Nithsdale, close to Drumlanrig Castle is a fine example of an 18th Century planned village. Situated on the main road to Kilmarnock it still has a couple of former coaching inns, together with some good shops for browsing. It’s not far from Ellisland Farm, once farmed with no great success by Robert Burns, which has been turned into a popular museum and visitor attraction and is well worth a visit.