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Great Tapestry of Scotland-Update May '23

I am visiting Scotland in May, and am considering a day trip from Edinburgh to visit Galashiels and the Tapestry Gallery. It looks fairly straightforward to travel by train. Might there be a recommended day tour? If I go on my own (perfectly comfortable with this option), any recommendations for another stop along the way or other places to see in Galashiels? I am particularly interested in other textile-related visits.

Posted by
6778 posts

You might be interested in seeing the Unicorn tapestries at Stirling Castle, which are beautiful reproductions of the original tapestries. It's not on your way but it's a short distance from Edinburgh, and easily done by public transportation. https://www.stirlingcastle.scot/discover/highlights/the-stirling-tapestries/

And not much farther than that is this 400-year old tartan that was recently discovered - it's being exhibited at the V&A in Dundee. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/scotland/400-year-old-tartan

Posted by
4145 posts

This looks interesting , I'll be in Edinburgh this coming Autumn , and this seems a good idea . Further for you , a visit to Stirling Castle would be perfect for you , In the Palace on the castle grounds there hangs a magnificent set of tapestries created over a fifteen year period , and modeled on a set entitled " The Hunt of The Unicorn " belonging to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York . Woven in a purpose built studio at Stirling , the story behind them is fascinating as is the beauty of the finished set . Some more information here, don't miss this - https://www.stirlingcastle.scot/discover/highlights/the-stirling-tapestries/ and here ( be sure to watch the descriptive video ) - https://www.medievalists.net/2015/06/the-mystic-hunt-of-the-unicorn-tapestries-unveiled-at-stirling-castle/

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4145 posts

By the way , if you do go to Stirling , in addition to the tapestries , keep an eye peeled for a fair amount of other decorative textiles and needlework ( Wall Hangings , furniture with lavish embroidery , drapery applications ) there is also a collection of Renaissance period furniture , faithfully reproduced

Posted by
504 posts

Thank you for the Stirling recommendations--we will definitely be stopping there. We have reservations for two nights in Dundee, so I look forward to visiting both the V & A and Verdant Works. I'm sure there will be other "discoveries" along the way, so I will be sure to report back here after we return.

Posted by
6365 posts

It's a lovely train ride down the Tweedbank line to Galashiels-
see also Old Gala House- https://www.liveborders.org.uk/culture/museums/our-museums/old-gala-house/
Abbotsford House (the home of Sir Walter Scott)-https://www.scottsabbotsford.com/
and, 4 miles away, Melrose Abbey-https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/melrose-abbey/
To reach Melrose from Gala take Borders Buses route 61 (the Bus Station is across the road from the single platform train station)-https://passenger-line-assets.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/bordersbuses/BORD/61A-timetable-20220627-a266f269.pdf

Posted by
2 posts

If you look for Galashiels Heartland on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll find lots of news from businesses in the town, including the likes of textile businesses like Sinclair Duncan textiles. Old Gala House is a nice wee local museum that is worth a visit. The Borders Textile Towerhouse in Hawick is great for those interested in textiles. The nearby town of Hawick is known locally as the Cashmere, Tweed and Whisky Town (look for Famously Hawick). The new Trimontium Roman Museum in Melrose is a fab wee museum too.

Posted by
6778 posts

Hi, Kirsty and welcome to the forum! I am not going to make it to Galashiels on my trip this year, but hopefully another year. All those places look very interesting!

Posted by
358 posts

If you do head to Gala, the tapestry is only five minutes walk from the station. Then get back on and go to Tweedbank - from there walk to Melrose where you will find the ruined Abbey

Posted by
6365 posts

I hadn't heard about Trimontium.
Funnily enough I've walked from Tweedbank Station in the opposite direction to Abbotsford, but not to Melrose.
I must get back to Melrose, last time I was there I was staying at the Waverley Castle, and it was then the long haul and very scenic bus ride up on the X95 from Carlisle.
It is a shame that is no longer an option for me now that Borders Buses have gone exclusively smart phone users by app for their rover tickets. Single fares just gets too expensive.
So I thought Gala was as far as I could now reach.
I like the independent movie theatre in Gala. I'm not a multiplex person, I like my "proper" cinemas.
Locally Galashiels is known as Gala, pronounced with a soft a (as in a girl) not a hard a (as in a fair).

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2 posts

The walk to Melrose from Tweedbank is a lovely walk that takes you off road and along the river Tweed, onto the path for the Southern Upland Way.

There’s buses connecting Gala and Tweedbank to Melrose too.

Posted by
504 posts

It sounds like I have some excellent choices for my day in Gala and nearby. I look forward to exploring the area. Perhsps I'll have to save some of your suggestions for my next trip to Scotland😊!

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504 posts

Update: I highly recommend visiting The Great Tapestry of Scotland! It is less than an hour on the train from Edinburgh Waverley to Galashiels; the open return ticket cost around £12. The Tapestry Gallery is about a five-minute walk from Galashiels station.

I was interested in the textile art and community aspect of the Tapestry (about 1000 individuals embroidered the panels) but had given little thought to the history of Scotland depicted through them. That definitely changed once I started touring the Gallery. The artistry is beautiful, the stories of Scotland's history well-told. I found myself often thinking back on these "mini history lessons" as I visited other areas of Scotland.

Sadly, I did not have time to travel on to Melrose Abbey or Tweedbank. My husband and I do have a "next time" list, though-and the Borders area is definitely a part of it! Thank you to the Forum contributors who helped me with planning this part of my trip.

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6365 posts

Did you manage to get to the tartan exhibition at the V and A in Dundee?

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504 posts

I did not-we had just one day in Dundee and opted for a quick stop at the V & A and a longer visit to Verdant Works-so worthwhile. I did get in my fair share of textile-related visits. Edinburgh's Dovecot Studios and the tapestry studio at Stirling Castle (plus the tapestries) did not disappoint. On the Isle of Skye we stopped in at a silk-weaving studio. (Does Skyeskins count as well?)

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6365 posts

For information of others King Charles is visiting the Great Tapestry on 6 July (the day after his service in Edinburgh) , so there will be general disruption in Galashiels that day.
During their visit they will unveil a new panel- and the Tapestry will be open for free from 1pm to 5pm on 6 July to enable people to see the new panel.