Scotland, Part 1: The Borders – Kelso, Melrose, and Edinburgh

After exploring Yorkshire, England, we drove up the eastern coast and crossed over into Scotland at Carter Bar. What an awesome panorama! The border itself runs along a ridge, offering long-ranging views of the hilly Southern Uplands region.

We pulled into Kelso just as the sun set spectacularly over the confluence of the rivers Tweed and Teviot. Our accommodations impressed as well: Duncan House, a well-appointed B&B popular with travelers exploring the Borders, is far posher than its price might suggest. The parlor and dining room were furnished with antiques equally beautiful and comfortable, and the view from my room could not have been more postcard picturesque.

 Someone's excited to be back in Scotland!

Someone's excited to be back in Scotland!

 Sunset over the confluence of the rivers Tweed and Teviot

Sunset over the confluence of the rivers Tweed and Teviot

Kelso further won me over when I wandered through the small town's center and landed at The Cobbles for dinner. A decade ago, this vegetarian often subsisted on the "chips" half of the typical pub dish. While I do love a good French fry, I'm happy to report that pub — or now, more fancily, gastropub — fare has evolved into a veggie-friendly realm. Not to mention the very tasty craft beer they serve, brewed by the Cobbles's former head chef at Tempest Brewing Company in nearby Galashiels.

En route from Kelso to Edinburgh, we visited the magnificent ruins of Melrose Abbey — a famous Cistercian monastery that was established in 1136.

We lucked out with a fantastic, blue-sky day in Edinburgh, so we climbed Arthur's Seat and enjoyed the 360-degree view of town, the River Forth, and the North Sea.

 Arthur's Seat, Canongate Kirk and its yard, and the chimneys of  THE ROYAL MILE  viewed from the south slope of Calton Hill.

Arthur's Seat, Canongate Kirk and its yard, and the chimneys of THE ROYAL MILE viewed from the south slope of Calton Hill.

That evening, after walking the Royal Mile at sunset, we made an obligatory stop at my favorite Scottish cocktail bar, Bramble — where my favorite Scottish mixologist, Matty, served up some phenomenal concoctions.

Dinner — and dessert! — at the quirky and delicious restaurant The Dogs brought the ideal Edinburgh day to a close.

 The Royal Mile

The Royal Mile

 St. Giles' Cathedral

St. Giles' Cathedral

 I had to tell the story of the Ardberg Challenge..., in which I was victorious on my last visit to Bramble.

I had to tell the story of the Ardberg Challenge..., in which I was victorious on my last visit to Bramble.