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Focus on the Galashiels Area
Beverley Brown discovers what the heartland of the Scottish Borders has to offer The motto Sour Plums refers to a Border raid (of which there were many) in 1337, during which a party of English soldiers were taken by surprise whilst gathering plums. This event is celebrated annually in late June in the Braw Lads’ Gathering, a colourful event that incorporates ride outs, sports, ceremonies and the Braw Lads’ Ball. The town made its name as a centre of excellence for textile manufacturing and the first references to mills can be traced back to 1585. Today, many former mill sites have been reborn in a different guise - the largest now home to Gala Water Retail Park, where 24-hour supermarkets are joined by top chain stores such as Marks & Spencer and Next, while links with the textile industry are maintained by the School of Textiles and Design, now part of Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University. Surrounded by historic sites and monuments and breath-taking scenery, switching off and unwinding has never been easier. While the town itself has plenty of man-made attractions, including a multiplex cinema, sports centres, tennis courts, and a swimming pool that offers scenic woodland views from the poolside and two shallow ends that are ideal for learners.
The opening of the Border Railway, which provides a regular rail service from three new stations in the region directly into Waverly station in the centre of Edinburgh, has been instrumental in bringing new awareness to the economic and lifestyle advantages of living in the Scottish Borders in general – and the Galashiels area in particular. Lying right at the very heart of the region with railway stations within Galashiels and nearby at Tweedbank, the town and surrounding smaller towns and villages are the main focus of attention. And for those who explore the opportunities the rewards are both many and varied - good schools, sports and leisure facilities, shops and retail parks, commuter links (only 50 minutes to Edinburgh by train), restaurants, health services, diverse property market and wonderfully scenic natural surroundings, all of which collectively amount to a great place to live at any stage in life.
Galashiels was founded long before the arrival of the textile industry that put it on the map. The first recorded reference to the town whose name means ‘dwellings by the Gala Water’ was in 1124, during the reign of David 1. Its oldest building, Old Gala House, home of the Lairds of Gala for five centuries, is now an art gallery and local museum charting the story of the house, its inhabitants and the early development of the town. A newer but equally impressive monument is the war memorial, with its massive Border Reiver horseman - the work of local sculptor Thomas Clapperton. As elsewhere in the Borders, tradition plays an important part of life in Galashiels. The town crest depicts a fox trying to reach the ripe fruits on a plum tree.
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Better still, the great outdoors offers countless opportunities free of charge - spectacular walks and hill treks, cycle routes (cyclists can join the 90-mile Tweed Cycle Way in Galashiels, while hikers can join the Southern Upland Way as it passes through), forest picnic sites and of course the River Tweed, which winds its way through this picturesque landscape until it reaches the sea just over the border at Berwick-upon-Tweed. This part of the Borders offers outdoor leisure pursuits for all ages, from walks, cycles tracks and horse riding, to some of the finest fishing in the world. This is rugby country and Galashiels is represented in the famous Border League, while nearby Melrose was also the birthplace of the Rugby Sevens. The rolling landscape makes golf another major sporting attraction and the 18-hole course in Galashiels extends to the top of Ladhope Hill, where it’s said the views from the top make you forget the climb. Living in the central Borders gives house buyers a far wider choice than in the city and Galashiels has property styles to suit all tastes and budgets, from starter flats and ex local authority houses to substantial stone-built semi and detached period houses and one-off properties. Outwith the town, the surrounding area has everything from picturesque country cottages and farm conversions to modern family estates and individually designed houses.
Commenting on the area’s current residential property market, David Kilshaw of BSPC member firm Cullen Kilshaw, says: “The market in central Borders has held up well this spring, following a burst of activity in the early months of the year from buyers looking to avoid the new LBTT which came into effect in April and is now charged on the purchase of second homes.” He adds: “Cullen Kilshaw has had its busiest May ever, with 38 new properties coming to the market last month across our office network. In Galashiels and the surrounding area, the unprecedented success story of the Borders railway has caught the public imagination - and I have no doubt that as more and more people look to the railway as their route to better and more varied job prospects in Edinburgh, there will continue to be growing demand for houses within easy striking distance of the stations at Tweedbank, Galashiels and Stow and as a result, prices will continue to edge upwards.” Outside the town, Tweedbank is a picturesque place traditionally best known for its scenic loch, parkland and restaurant. However, the Borders Railway puts Tweedbank on the map as the final stop (or the first, depending on whether you are coming or going) on the new 30-mile rail link between Edinburgh and the Borders. House building in the area has predictably increased in recent years, with further expansion likely to continue.
At present the new build sector in and around Galashiels includes the final phase of Ellwyn Terrace, where local firm J.S.Crawford Builders has a selection of detached houses ranging from three bedroomed bungalows to substantial five bedroomed villas. Location, location, location is justifiably the mantra for this niche development; an elevated site that provides spectacular views to the front over Galashiels and beyond, and farmland to the rear, Ellwyn Terrace offers the perfect combination of town and country living – a quiet and peaceful setting only five minutes walk from the train station and 10 minutes walk from the town centre. Prices here start from £240,000 for the Ellwyn Glen bungalow, a three bedroomed home with single integral garage that is particularly popular with buyers looking to downsize. Only nine of the 11 properties planned remain – and three of those have yet to be released. J.S.Crawford, a family firm in its third generation that has been building homes since 1946, is also planning to launch two new developments shortly in Darnick, close to Melrose and Borders General Hospital. As this location will feature bespoke properties and is likely to be highly popular with commuters, potential buyers can register interest now on 01896 822030. Another new build development is Melrose Gait, situated close to the River Tweed on the road to Gattonside, where nationwide house builder Persimmon Homes is offering a range of two, three, four and five bedroomed house styles in a semi-rural setting, with prices starting from £110,000 for a two bedroomed end terraced house.
In addition to its mix of house styles the area has an outstanding range of facilities and amenities
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A few miles east of Galashiels, Melrose is a picturesque country town situated at the foot of the Eildon Hills. Life here seems to move at a more genteel pace, although its mix of independent shops and boutiques, award-winning restaurants, and the magnificent 12th century ruined abbey – believed to be the burial place of a casket containing the heart of Robert the Bruce – make the town a must-see location on tourist maps as does Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott.
Built almost 200 years ago on the banks of the River Tweed, Abbotsford is said to have been the culmination of Scott’s creative ambitions as a writer and the fount of his inspiration.
Another popular attraction is Scott’s View, on the B6356 between Earlston and St Boswells, one of the most famous vistas in the Borders set against the distinctive triple peaks of the Eildon Hills.
Recently restored, the historic house and visitor centre are open to the public, along with a gift shop, restaurant, beautiful formal gardens and woodlands.
Melrose’s chief sport is rugby but there is also a nine-hole golf course - the second oldest in the region and one that in the past has been voted the most friendly by visitors.
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The town is also a mecca for walkers and cyclists (the abbey is the starting point for the 62-mile cross border St Cuthbert’s Way to Lindisfarne and for one of the Four Abbeys Cycle Routes), while garden lovers are well served with the highly acclaimed National Trust for Scotland’s walled Harmony Garden and Priorwood orchard garden. For those who aspire to live in Melrose, other attractions include good schools (local primary, bus provided for Earlston High School), and Borders General Hospital, the main hospital serving the region. To the west of Galashiels on the A72 to Peebles is the very pretty village of Clovenfords, where the remains of an Iron Age hill fort testify that this has been a settlement for many centuries. The most notable feature is the local hotel and restaurant, which occupies a prominent position on the roundabout - and in summer, is ablaze with colour from spectacular floral displays. An inn has stood on this site since the mid 1700s and past patrons have included Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth, which perhaps says something about the scenic nature of this part of the world and its ability to inspire poets and wordsmiths. In recent years Clovenfords’ housing market has undergone considerable expansion, which prompted the need to improve other facilities, such as the new primary school that opened recently in the village. As a result, the re-sale property market in the village tends to be dominated by modern family-sized villas and one-off houses.
Seven miles north of Galashiels is Stow, an old English word meaning ‘holy place’ or ‘meeting place’. There has been a church in Stow since the 7th century although the one visible today dates from 1876 and incorporates a 140ft high clock tower. Stow also has a rare example of a packhorse bridge built in the 1650s. More recently Stow has been put on the map as one of the new stations on the Border Railway – a standout feature not missed by house buyers and Edinburgh commuters, who also benefit from the village’s close proximity to the A7. A few miles east of Stow, on the A68, Earlston and Lauder are highly sought after locations that offer easy road and rail links to the Scottish capital. The Royal Burgh of Lauder lies just 27 miles south east of Edinburgh on the Southern Upland Way and on the western edge of the Lammermuir Hills, Lauder has retained its medieval form with a single main street widening into the market place, while also offering the facilities of a modern small town, including a leisure centre, good schools, nine-hole golf course and tennis and bowling clubs.
BSPC MEMBER FIRMS IN THE GALASHIELS AREA
Cullen Kilshaw 27 Market Street, Galashiels, TD1 3AF Tel. 01896 758311 Fax. 01896 758112 Email. firstname.lastname@example.org 7 Market Square (Property), Melrose, TD6 9PQ Tel. 01896 822796 Fax. 01896 823465 Email. email@example.com www.cullenkilshaw.com
The town is also home to Thirlstane Castle, one of the seven ‘great houses of Scotland’ and once the seat of the Earls of Lauderdale. New build housing in recent years has enhanced the town’s property market. Earlston is a similarly historic market town highly sought after by families seeking access to Earlston High School and Primary School – and like Lauder, situated on the Leader Water. The town has good local shops and services and easy access to Tweedbank railway station. Being right in the centre of the Region, the Galashiels Area has all the hallmarks of an enviable permanent lifestyle location - but it also makes a great day out for people living further afield, in South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Glasgow and the Lothians, who come to shop for world-famous locally made food and drink and exclusive high quality art and crafts – made by people who are inspired by living in a region that is rich in natural beauty and steeped in history.
Bannerman Burke 72 Bank Street, Galashiels, TD1 1EL Tel. 01896 750350 Fax. 01896 750360 Email. firstname.lastname@example.org www.bannermanburke.co.uk
Edingtons W.S. 88-90 High Street, Galashiels, TD1 1SQ Tel. 01896 756161 Fax. 01896 751919 Email. email@example.com www.edingtonlaw.co.uk
Iain Smith & Partners W.S. Bank Close, Galashiels, TD1 1BG Tel. 01896 663410 Fax. 01896 754469 Email. firstname.lastname@example.org www.iainsmith.co.uk
Pike & Chapman 36 Bank Street, Galashiels, TD1 1ER Tel. 01896 752379 Fax. 01896 754439 Email. email@example.com www.bordersproperty.co.uk
BSPC property professionals have a n in-depth knowledge of the local market
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A diverse range of properties BSPC have over 500 properties for sale and rent across the Borders Region. Below are just a small selection chosen from our range of Galashiels Area properties in the Central Borders . . .
Priced at £25,000 below Home Report value, Fallwood is a modern, energy-saving detached villa in a peaceful and private setting within the picturesque village of Eildon. Immaculately presented inside and out, the property also has beautiful gardens and a sizeable driveway. Page 9
1 St Leonards, Lauder
For sale at £60,000 below Home Report value, this extended semi-detached cottage has been refurbished to a high specification to create a unique family home with a superb open-plan living/dining/kitchen area. Features include integrated sound system, oak flooring, attractive gardens, decking and parking area. Page 27
Balnakiel House, Galashiels £220,000 This ground floor conversion apartment within Balnakiel House offers grand living at an affordable price in an extremely private and peaceful setting. It is also a substantial size. Beautifully presented with neutral decoration, wood flooring and original features, this is an impressive property in a great location. Page 34
Ellwyn Terrace, Galashiels
This modern detached villa occupies an elevated setting with wonderful views over Galashiels only a short walk from the railway station and town centre. With the accommodation split over three levels it is ideal for family living in the centre of the Scottish Borders. Page 22
Galashiels Road, Stow
This distinctive detached property in the village of Stow is presented in move-in condition, with flexible accommodation. Easily managed gardens surround the property, which also has a garage, driveway and ample parking space. Page 28
Manse Court, Galashiels
This modern three bedroomed semi-detached home is designed to make family life easy and finished to a high specification both inside and outside, where the road is attractively monoblocked. Front and back gardens, patio and driveway parking for two vehicles complete the picture. Page 38
Rhymers Cottage, Earlston £295,000 Rhymers is a delightful detached cottage in an idyllic setting with river views and private gardens, stable block, arena and numerous outbuildings. The cottage retains original features and has a 20ft kitchen/diner and extensive storage as well as an integral garage. Page 23
Scottsville, Nether Blainslie £249,500 Scottsville is a one-off detached house that oozes charm and character and has been transformed by the present owners into a very desirable family home with scope for further extension into the 30ft attic room. The delightful cottage garden has a sunken patio and summerhouse. Page 32
Wilderhaugh Court, Galashiels £74,500 First time buyers might want to check out this very stylish top floor flat within a modern development that gives easy access to the town centre. Ready to move into without doing anything more arduous than positioning the furniture the flat also comes with an allocated parking space. Page 52
Published on Jun 23, 2016
Borders Solicitors Property Centre (BSPC) take a look at what the heartland of the Scottish Borders has to offer. The opening of the Border...