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Focus on the Kelso Area Beverley Brown highlights the many reasons why the Kelso and Jedburgh area is so highly rated with house buyers Lying in a fertile valley between the Lammermuir Hills and the Cheviots, only a few miles from the English border, Kelso is a historic town with more than its fair share of ancient monuments alluding to past centuries when the town, like many others in the region, was involved in Border wars and skirmishes. The 18th century cobbled market square, once the main hub of activity for what continues to be a largely agricultural community, is now a conservation area and starting point for the Town Trail, which gives a fascinating insight into local buildings of historic and architectural interest, including the Town Hall, which stands on the site of the old Tolbooth, and the Cross Keys Hotel, a former coaching inn built in 1761. The diversity of architecture in this part of the Borders is a major attraction.
On the outskirts of Kelso is the magnificent 18th century Floors Castle. Designed by William Adam in 1721, it’s Scotland’s largest inhabited house and the ancestral home of the Duke of Roxburghe. Other outstanding buildings include Mellerstain House, a Georgian stately home to the north of the town designed by William and Robert Adam which is open to the public; the well preserved 15th century Smailholm Tower; and the remains of the 12th century Kelso Abbey. Modern Kelso is an attractive place to live - Sir Walter Scott went a tad further in describing the Kelso he knew as ‘the most beautiful if not the most romantic village in Scotland’. While no longer a village, Kelso has retained its appearance along with its character and cultural heritage. Here, the local property market spans everything from modern flats, luxury apartments and one-off houses, to traditional flats and terraced styles, picturesque rural cottages and larger stone-built houses from the Georgian and Victorian eras. In addition to its mix of house styles to suit all age groups and price ranges, Kelso has an outstanding range of facilities and amenities, including primary and secondary schools, shops, restaurants, sports facilities – including a 25metre swimming pool - and clubs for everything from gliding and curling to arts and bridge.
Covering 46 acres, Springwood Park in Kelso is home to the annual Border Union Agricultural Show, now in its 199th year. This is one of the top events in the Borders and includes hundreds of livestock competitions in addition to around 250 trade stands and attractions covering everything from farm machinery to crafts and gifts, a food fair and children’s fun fair. Unique among Border towns, Kelso has an ice rink and a racecourse, the latter the home of National Hunt racing and a well-known venue for steeple chasing and point -to-point races. And being in the Borders, this is rugby country, but the town’s leisure opportunities also include parks and riverside walkways, athletics, badminton, cricket, tennis, cycling, hockey, trout and salmon fishing, football, swimming and golf - the Roxburghe golf course is fast becoming recognised by golfers internationally and in the past has been voted the fifth best inland course in Scotland. For these reasons – and a great many more besides – the town and surrounding villages offer a lifestyle much favoured by house buyers. According to BSPC executive member Ron Hastings, of Hastings Property Shop in Kelso, ‘location, location, location’ may be an old cliche but it remains the key factor when it comes to that all-important decision and for many this area still ticks all the boxes.
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“The Kelso area continues to prove a top choice for buyers looking to move to The Borders,” he says. “Properties within the town and surrounding countryside continue to be the main attractions, although it is fair to say the top end of the market has been slower to sell of late, while for those that have sold or have the cash there is plenty of choice. On a positive note, the lower end of the market has picked up and buyers have been able to take advantage of keen prices, which has resulted in some quick sales bucking the trend. However, overall it’s a case of steady as you go as we gradually emerge from a long period of flat calm that has affected the property market in general. My advice to sellers and buyers would be the now famous slogan, Keep Calm and Carry On!” Predictably, given its variety of attractions, Kelso currently offers a good choice of new build property and local housebuilder M&J Ballantyne has several high profile developments available in the town. Just off Shedden Park, in the centre of the town, Sutherland Gardens is a small niche development of only eight, individually designed and traditionally styled four and five bedroom detached houses, each with its own character and features. With so few properties available sales here were predictably brisk.
Floors Castle Kelso
Kelso Town Hall & Square
As a result only one remains, a five bedroomed Bowring for sale at £483,250, which has the unusual feature of an en suite guest bedroom wing above the double garage. Overlooking the River Tweed on the edge of the town, East Broomlands is another M&J Ballantyne development, now in its second phase of 76 houses. Designed to have widespread appeal for families, there are nine house types available in a choice of three, four and five bedroomed styles including bungalows – the Paxton, a particularly well designed and attractive bungalow with three bedrooms and an integral garage, is priced at £299,500. Also available is a Maxwell style starting from £288,500 and a larger Wallace, priced from £348,750. M&J Ballantyne also has a new development of just 20 properties in total at North Broomlands. Bordered to the north by woodland, all the houses on this former estate site will have the advantage of a rural environment, yet it’s only a few minutes walk to Broomlands Primary School and only a short walk to the town centre. Two, three and four bedroom properties are planned for this site in a choice of three styles. Currently available is a Mowbray two bedroomed bungalow at £162,500 – designed with attic trusses to give the option of extending now or at a later stage – and a larger four bedroomed version of the Mowbray at £186,250.
Other styles include a three bedroomed semi-detached Bailey that offers great value for money at £142,750; and a three bedroomed semi-detached Peel style with en suite facilities at £149,950. J.S. Crawford is another long established (third generation) Borders-based housebuilder. Its most popular development to date is Wallaceneuk, an elevated site on the south side of Kelso that offers stunning views across to the abbey, Floors Castle, Kelso Bridge and the famous Junction Pool, where the rivers Tweed and Teviot merge. Now nearing the end of its final phase, only one property remains for sale, a three bedroomed semi-detached house ready for immediate entry at a fixed price of £159,000. The same housebuilder has now started work on Queens Court, a new development in Kelso situated near the golf course and racecourse on Angraflat Road. This is a small, select site with only 26 units planned in total, made up of three bedroomed semi-detached styles and three, four and five bedroomed detached properties. Of the seven houses released in the first phase of the development, two have been reserved and prices here currently start from £164,900 for a three bedroomed semi-detached style. North east of Kelso, the town of Coldstream lies on the boundary between Scotland and England and once rivalled Gretna as a base for runaway couples looking to marry under Scotland’s more lenient laws. Nowadays it’s better known as the birthplace of the Coldstream Guards, which has since been amalgamated into the Royal Regiment of Scotland. Coldstream is well positioned for access to Berwick-upon-Tweed and access to the rail network that links Edinburgh and Newcastle.
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Floors Castle Gardens, Kelso
Yetholm Nr Kelso
Also on the border – albeit on opposite banks of the Bowmont River – are the picturesque villages of Town Yetholm and Kirk Yetholm, the latter home to the famous Yetholm Gypsies. A commemorative standing stone on the village green dedicated to the gypsies, that also officially marks the end of the Pennine Way, a challenging long-distance walk that begins in Derbyshire and winds its way through three National Parks before crossing the border into Scotland at Kirk Yetholm. Nearby Morebattle, seven miles south of Kelso and on the banks of the River Kale, is typical of many Border villages, with a picturesque main street, village hall, primary school and shops. The village name means ‘the dwelling on the lake’, which refers to a sizeable loch that used to exist between Morebattle and the village of Linton. St Cuthbert’s Way, another long-distance route popular with walkers, passes through Morebattle on its way from Melrose to Lindisfarne.
Built on either side of the Jed Water, the Royal Burgh of Jedburgh is another popular Borders town with a history that spans many centuries. The famous abbey, founded by King David I in 1138, has the distinction of being the most complete surviving abbey in the Borders – despite having been set on fire nine times. Jedburgh is similar in layout to Edinburgh’s Old Town in that it has a long high street terminating with Jedburgh Castle Jail and Museum at its highest point. Tourism accounts for a large share of the town’s economy and the town centre conservation area alone has more than 130 listed properties, a number of which are category A (buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic, or little-altered examples of a particular period, style or building type). The history of this attractive town is highlighted at a visitor centre based in a fortified house that played host to Mary Queen of Scots in 1566. The A68 cuts a swathe through Jedburgh providing direct access north to Galashiels, Melrose and Edinburgh and south, through Northumberland National Park, where it joins the A69 linking Carlisle and Newcastle. The town itself offers a diverse choice of property, its buildings ranging from historic and quirky to traditional and modern, while the surrounding countryside offers opportunities for one-off houses and rural conversions.
Mary Queen of Scots House, Jedburgh
Images courtesy of Visit Scotland Borders, Hastings and Co and Digital Image
Birgham Nr Kelso
Jedburgh Castle & Jail
Jedburgh offers a wide choice of sports and outdoor activities, from horse riding, angling and cycling, to unique attractions like Harestanes Countryside Centre and Jedforest Deer and Farm Park. The town also has an 18-hole parkland golf course on Dunion Road, with woodlands, broom, gorse, water features and exceptional views over the Cheviots. There is also a challenging nine -hole course at Lilliardsedge. Other facilities include pre -school, primary schools and Jedburgh Grammar School, local shops and restaurants, healthcare – all the necessities of life with the added benefit of scenic rural surroundings. North-west of Jedburgh, near Harestanes Countryside Centre, is Ancrum, a popular and very pretty village within easy reach of Jedburgh that has been expanding in recent years, most notably due to the Duke’s Field development comprising traditionally built three and four bedroomed semi and detached house styles and larger five and six bedroomed houses. Although Jedburgh and Kelso are both less than 50 miles from Edinburgh, which can be easily reached via the A68 and the city bypass, the planned reinstatement of the Waverley rail line extending from Edinburgh to Tweedbank will make this part of the Borders more widely accessible and further increase its desirability with city commuters.
Commenting on the local housing market in and around Jedburgh, Jane Flynn, property negotiator at BSPC firm Lindsays on the High Street, reports: “In general the market still remains fragile but good quality property in desirable locations receives strong levels of interest. That said, pricing remains key and many properties are taking longer to sell than in previous years.” Jedburgh Abbey
Jedburgh Market Square