31 MAY 1930, Page 35


[We publish on this page articles and notes which may help our readers in making their plans for travel at home and abroad, They are written by correspondents who have visited the places described. We shall be glad to answer questions arising out of the Travel articles published in our columns. Inquiries should be addressed to the Travel Manager, The Stscraxott, 99 Gower Street, W .C.1.]

The Scott Country

IT is forty years since I first heard the Tweed ripple over its pebbles, yet that exquisite thin music still sings in the memory. The Scott country properly includes the whole of that Border quadrilateral _ of which the angular points are Peebles, Dumfries, Carlisle and Berwick. But in the tourist sense it is the stretch of Tweedside which centres in Melrose and Abbotsford—names as inseparably connected with Sir Walter as Stratford with Shakespeare and Hell with Dante. Now- adays it can all be seen in a day's tour from Edinburgh by L.N.E.R. and motor-coach, at the moderate cost of 10s. 6d., whilst the ubiquitous and affable Thomas Cook further includes luncheon, sight-seeing fees, and the services of a modern Captain Clutterbuck for 22s. 6d. The approach of the Scott centenary will probably increase the number of the pilgrims who visit Abbotsford and say with Milton : " 0, happy this house thAt harboured him and that cold stone whereon he rested."

The scenery of Tweedside sometimes disappoints the tourist. Like China tea, water ice and avocado pears, it is too delicate for a jaded palate. When Washington Irving was taken up by Scott to his Delectable Mountains :

" I beheld," (he writes), " a mere succession of grey waving hills, line beyond line, as far as my eye could reach, monotonous in their aspect, and so destitute of trees that one could almost see a stout fly walking along their profile."

Prosper Merimee unkindly disposed of the Lowland hills as mere greenish humps. Yet to Scott's eye they were " more lovely than Sorrento, more romantic than Monte Rosa." It is true that, though the scenery which Scott loved is some- times grand, it is never grandiose ; its salient characteristics are restfulness and a sober melancholy ; it is perhaps seen to greatest advantage on what the Scots call a soft day." But its greatest charm is that of poetical association :

" A mist of memory broods and floats, The Border waters flow ; The air is full of ballad notes; Borne out of long ago."

There can be few more agreeable tour's by motor-coach than that of the Scott country. It begins and ends at Melrose, the Kennaquhair of The Monastery. (It is a curious fact, by the way, that Ruskin, who prided himself on etymological acumen, did not realize that Kennaquhair was the Scottish for Utopia.) The lovely old abbey, still " a dream in stone," has been amply described by Scott himself, but he omits to notice the haunting epitaph on one of its tombs :

" The earth goeth on the earth, glist'ring like gold ; The earth goes to the earth sooner than it wold ; The earth builds on the earth castles and towers ; The earth says to the earth, All shall be ours."

It is an appropriate text for the succeeding visit to Abbots- ford, that sad reminder of the 'sole flaw in Scott's great and generous soul—the ambition to become a Laird and found a family, which yet revealed his noble strength and patience as nothing else could have done :

" The glory dies not, and the grief is past."

Yet it is with mixed feelings that his truest admirers must gaze on the hoarded relics of his daily life and his passion for romantic pseudo-antiquity.. Some have always preferred to see Abbotsford through the eyes of Lockhart, who for once kept his tongue out of his cheek in speaking of it.

From Abbotsford the coach climbs the hill of Bemerside, now again happily fulfilling the prophecy of the ancient Rhymer :—

" Betide, betide, whate'er betide, There ;hall be Haigs in Bemerside."

Scott loved to stand at the gate above the house and admire the loveliest view in the whole district, where the horse-shoe bend of the Tweed encompasses the site of the first Abbey under the bold bluff of Bemerside, and one looks up the valley to the Moorfoot Hills, the three hills into which Michael Scott cleft the solitary height of Eildon, and the conical peak of Ruberslaw in the blue distance. It was a strange coincidence that on the dark and lowering day of Scott's funeral the hearse made an unpremeditated halt at this favourite spot; whence could be faintly heard that ripple which was the sweetest of all sounds to his living ear.

The next halt is at Dryburgh Abbey, which should have been Scott's maternal inheritance from. .the Haliburtons. But all that Fate let him keep of it was the much prized right of sepulture, which he now shares with Lord Haig— the other Scotsman who has done most since the Union for the " auld enemy of England."

From Dryburgh the drive goes on to Kelso, the ancient Queen of the Borders, still a charming riverside town, though it is vain to hunt for the wide-spreading platanus under whose shade the boy Scott first read Percy's Reliques and dimly foresaw the possibility of the Border Minstrelsy and the vast succeeding harvest of romance in verse and prose which has become an inseparable part of our British heritage. Thence follows a run along the lovely banks of Teviot to Jedburgh, famous for its rude justice—" hang first and try afterwards "—and accursed to all time by memories of " Blirke Sir Walter " and " Moriturus vos saluto." So back to Melrose by the battle-ground of Ancrum Moor.

The pedestrian with a few days at his disposal will get even better value for his money. A day can be well spent by permission in wandering round Scott's own paupera regna, to the stone of Turnagain and the dark loch of Cauldshiels, where eyes that looked on Scott had seen the dreaded water- bull emerge and shake the hills with his roaring. A longer walk is to Ashestiel, celebrated in the charming preludes of Marmion, Scott's earlier and happiest home. Not far away are Sandyknowe and Smailholm Tower, where the first poetic influence was given to the child " By the green hill and clear blue heaven."

Another day takes the walker to St. Mary's Loch, in its stilly solitude, where the swan floats double, swan and shadow. There is only space to name Ettrick Water and the dowie dens of Yarrow—but the names are enough. Where is my