Jedburgh is a wonderful Scottish Border town. It’s passed through by many on their way up to Edinburgh or down to England, but it’s well worth a stop. It’s a place steeped in so much history, and so much of it is still on show to this day.
I used to travel through Jedburgh so many times as a child although we didn’t stop in the town as much. As we travelled through with our kids years later we always made time to explore and more recently enjoyed a great day here from our base in the Scottish Borders.
With so many things to do in Jedburgh I’m so glad we took the time to explore this town. I hope that if you’re passing by, taking a day trip from Edinburgh or even considering basing yourself here that you’ll love it too.
A note about visiting Jedburgh in winter. Our most recent trip was in the February half term break and a lot of these attractions were closed then. Spring through to Autumn should see everything open.
The abbey at Jedburgh was our reason for visiting most recently. It was our first holiday with a dog and so we were looking for dog friendly attractions. It turns out that historical sites are a pretty good option and Scotland has a tonne of those!
Jedburgh Abbey is one of four ruined border abbeys in Scotland and it’s a really magnificent structure. I really enjoyed that there was a indoor visitors centre with some artefacts on display and models showing what the abbey was like in its heyday. It’s always good to have an indoor area in a Scottish attraction!
The size and scale of the abbey is really apparent even though it’s a ruin. There’s plenty of information boards around to help you understand what you’re looking at.
While you can see the abbey well from outside it’s really inexpensive to visit and I’d definitely recommend it.
Mary, Queen of Scots House
Sometimes it can feel like no matter where you go in Scotland there is a link to Mary, Queen of Scots! Jedburgh is no different and it’s actually a place where she held court for around a month. The story goes that she made a trip from Jedburgh to Hermitage Castle to see her future husband but came back incredibly ill.
The house dates back to this time and is said to be the house she stayed in. It’s been a museum since 1930 and now tells the story of Mary and how her life unfolded.
It’s a free thing to do in Jedburgh so well worth the trip. If going out of season like we did it might not be open but you can still look around the gardens. Dogs can only stay in the grounds and cannot go inside the museum.
Jedburgh Castle Jail
This was one of our stops a few years ago and it’s a fun thing to do in Jedburgh with kids. The Castle Jail sounds really old but actually the current building dates back to just 1820. However the location did used to have a castle on it so it’s history does go back much further!
Visitors now can learn about what life was like in the jail in and also learn about the area of Jedburgh itself. They say it’s pretty haunted too!
It’s free to visit, perfect for kids with dressing up opportunities and lots of activities for them to do too. Closed in winter.
Explore the shops
There are so many small and independent gift shops and art galleries in the centre of Jedburgh. If you only have a small amount of time here you could spend a good hour or so stretching your legs and seeing what local Scottish artists have to offer.
From homemade sweets (Scottish Tablet is always highly recommended!) to artworks and collectibles you’ll find all sorts to remind you of your Borders trip or to purchase as gifts for others.
If you’re interested in learning all about the history of the town then I recommend the self guided town trail walk. It’s a free leaflet you can get from the tourist information centre near the car park or you can download it in advance here.
The trail takes around 1.5- 2 hours and is 1.5 miles long. It will take you by most of the attractions I’ve mentioned here so if you want to take those in and visit them as well you’ll need more time.
It’s more than just the Abbey history and Mary Queen of Scots, in fact I’ve been amazed how much actually happened in Jedburgh!
If you don’t want to do the trail itself you can learn a lot just by searching out the blue plaques around town.
Check out the ‘Eel’ Sculpture to Hutton’s Unconformity
In the Abbey Bridge End Car park, which is a great place to get a nice view of the Abbey and sit by the river with a picnic, is also another little known attraction in Jedburgh.
It’s called the Eel sculpture and was built to recognise the geologist James Hutton’s work and his theory that became known as Hutton’s Unconformity. I feel I should remember some of this from my geology classes but unfortunately I don’t! Perhaps time for a refresher!
The sculpture is at the back of the car park as you arrive. There are picnic benches near the river and a cafe serving food too.
The River Jed trails through Jedborough and is a great place to take a walk, get some peace and quiet and just listen to the river flowing by.
The area around here is so beautiful. You’re flanked by the historic buildings of the Abbey and the town itself and then you find yourself next to this gorgeous river. Well worth taking a walk to get away from it all.
It’s easy to find the river but I suggest walking down toward the Abbey and the Abbey End car park (don’t forget to check out the sculpture I suggested above). You’ll find there’s a stairway that leads down to some footpaths and that’s a good place to start and will lead you back towards town.
If you check out the tourist information centre in Jedburgh they should have a leaflet about walks in the area which include the river.
Take tea at one of the many cafes
There are a lot of options in the town of Jedburgh to get yourself a bite to eat for lunch, have a late breakfast or just enjoy a snack in the day.
What kind of Scottish goody will you try? Scones? Cakes? Maybe something savoury? Tea is compulsory I think!
If you’re thinking about being based near Jedburgh and have children to entertain then something to consider is taking them along to some Craft Workshops run in the town. They are open to everyone and they often have drop in days where you can just turn up, pay a small fee and make some things.
Other workshops include slime making, soap making and glass engraving and you generally need to book these ahead.
Check their Facebook page here for full details
Edinburgh Woollen Mill
Finally, it would be remiss of me to ignore the stop off outlet that’s just north of the town. I would stop here every year growing up as we made our yearly pilgrimage down from Central Scotland to England to see family and have fond memories! We rarely stopped in the town of Jedburgh itself, but always stopped here.
It’s a popular stop off in both directions and for those people who are in England and just want to pop into Scotland to say they’ve been and grab a few gifts!
You can look round the shop for some Scottish woollen gifts or have a cup of tea and cake in the cafe.
What to do near Jedburgh
Although its is only a small town there’s plenty to do around Jedburgh too. Of course you have the other border towns such as Melrose, Kelso and Hawick which are also well worth a day trip to.
The border with England
A trip to the Scottish Border with England is a great photo opportunity and if you’re blessed with good weather you’ll get the most fantastic views of the surrounding countryside too so well worth a trip. Look one way for Scotland and the other for Northumberland in England.
This border near Jedburgh is my favourite of the main border crossings between the two countries because it always felt like a special place. Travel up the East coast or the West and you’ll just see a road sign saying you’ve crossed into another country. Here there’s a large stone marker, called the Carter Bar Boundary Markers, with Scotland written on one side and England on the other – it just feels nicer and more of an event!
It’s only about 10 miles from Jedburgh itself along the A68 main route. There is plenty of parking on either side, one for those travelling south and those travelling north and there’s a stone on each side too.
Often there are food trucks and even pipers playing the bagpipes to welcome people to Scotland but that might depend on the season and weather.
Harestanes Country Park and Visitor Centre
A great wide open space for dog walks, play parks for kids to run around in and craft shops to explore. If you need to let off steam this is the place to go!
There’s a cafe there too but it’s also perfect for taking a picnic and making the day of it.
Right next to Harestanes and more sedate feeling to it is the House and Gardens of Monteviot. You can explore the house with a guided tour or wander the gardens of this home that is very much still lived in and enjoyed.
Check out more info here
Just 2 miles south of Jedburgh is a gorgeous 15th century castle which has recently been renovated. If you’re visiting in July then be sure to book a guided tour of the castle – it’s the only time they do them.
At other times you can actually rent the castle out to stay in!
Jacksons at Jedburgh
About 3 miles south of the town is a great family attraction. A farm day out is always a winner with kids and here you’re out in the country, you can feed the animals and just enjoy the fresh air. They also run some experiences too if you have an animal lover in the family who wants an extra special day.
Check them out here.
Where to stay in Jedburgh?
There are a number of places to stay from hotels, to bed and breakfasts and apartments to rent too.
I always recommend searching Booking.com as they have a huge choice and great cancellation policies should you need them. See what’s available here.
For holiday cottages in the area try Sykes Cottages – we used these to stay in St Boswells last time we visited.