Big Houses in the Scottish Borders

  • 06 Mar 2020
  • Article


Now in its second the year, the popular ‘Bag the Big Houses’ scheme is back and this time visitors are encouraged to celebrate the VisitScotland ‘Year of Coast and Waters’ with a visit to the area’s group of historic homes and castles, many of which lie along the River Tweed or close to a major water source.

The Big Houses in the Scottish Borders Group, which is made up of 11 of the region’s finest historic homes and castles, launched the scheme to encourage visitors to enjoy several properties and extend their time in the area. A stamp will be issued at each house and once the visitor has collected at least six then they can collect an exclusive Big Houses tote bag as a souvenir of their time in the Borders. It is hoped that this will encourage visitors to see a wider range of the properties and increase visitor numbers at each of the Houses. Visitors collecting all 11 stamps will receive a prize at their final House.

The map was initially produced by the Group in 2017 to highlight their stunning properties and promote what the region has to offer. The updated map now includes:  Traquair, Abbotsford, Thirlestane Castle, Floors Castle, Gunsgreen House, Bowhill House and Grounds, Mellerstain House, Monteviot House, Neidpath Castle, Paxton House and Manderston. An online version is available at

The map was designed by Galashiels graphic designer, Winnie Stewart, and illustrator, Diane Lumley, also from the Scottish Borders. It combines illustrations of the grand houses and castles with a custom scale map of the region showing exact locations of each house, road numbers, the Borders railway and stations, cycle and footpaths and other places of interest. It also includes visitor information for each of the houses and castles featured.

The Big Houses in the Scottish Borders is a non-profit organisation that was formed in 2012, to enable these visitor attractions to work collaboratively and to share ideas, fundraising opportunities and marketing activity.

The ‘Year of Coasts and Waters’ was set up by VisitScotland to celebrate the fantastic rivers, lochs, lakes and coastlines that this country has to offer.

Gillian Steele, Chair of the group said: “In this special year of celebration, we wanted to give visitors an added incentive to visit the Scottish Borders’ stunning collection of properties, all of which stand on a river, the coast or have a lake within their grounds. We issued a number of bags during last year’s visitor season and are hoping to top that this year as more people discover the wealth of beautiful properties across this area.”

For further information, please email or call 01896 830323.


Return to listing