Abbotsford was built in three phases from 1817 to the 1850s. The first two phases were commissioned by Sir Walter Scott whilst the third was completed about 20 years after Scott’s death. The house is in the romantic Scottish castle style, thus complimenting Scott’s novels and poems. Scott packed the house with recycled building materials, artifacts and mementos which are all essentially Scottish thus reflecting his taste.
Visitors can choose between two audio guides. One is strictly factual. I chose the romantic one, narrated by an actor as Scott. This excellent guide gave me a further insight into Scott’s character and motivation in designing and decorating Abbotsford.
To the north west of the house flows the River Tweed, which Scott diverted to create an exquisite vista, especially from the dining and drawing rooms and library. Formal gardens, again designed by Scott, can be explored to the south west of the house.
The house and grounds are administered by the Abbotsford Trust, which built a visitor centre in 2012. Downstairs is a well-stocked shop and introduction to Abbotsford. Upstairs is an excellent restaurant run by Ochiltrees Dining.
If you are driving to Scotland, choose the Waverley route, A7, to or from Edinburgh. Not only will this take you to Abbotsford, you will also enjoy the views and burn less fuel than on the boring M6/M72. Better still, after September 2015 you can catch the train to Galashiels for Abbotsford.