The Southern Region comprises of the administrative areas of Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders. Sndwiched between the Cheviot Hills on the English border and the Pentland and Moorfoot ranges to the south of Edinburgh, the borders region is made up from the old shire counties of Berwick, Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles. The borders towns cluster around and between the two great rivers of the Tweed and Teviot, where the green lushness of the river valleys exist in striking contrast to the bare, rounded peaks and weather-beaten heather hills of the Southern Uplands.
The most famous sights that haunt the memory in Borders country, are the ruined abbeys, founded during the reign of King David I, between 1124-53. Built more for political expediency than spiritual devotion, the monks and bishops that David installed at Kelso, Melrose, Jedburgh and Dryburgh were encouraged to advance his authority in areas of doubtful allegiance.
Of all the corners in Scotland the Borders has the bloodiest history. Running from the Wars of Independence with England in the 13th, 14th and 16th centuries until the Act of Union in 1603, this border region was beset by violence, being continuously fought over and ravaged by both Scottish and English armies. This bloody situation was further compounded by endless clan warfare and vicious outlaw gangs called reivers operating from both sides of the border.
A consequence of the border region's turbulent past is a Scottish countryside strewn with romantic castle ruins and ancient fortified houses, which, together with the broken abbeys provide a feast for visitors interested in attractive historical remains. From Floors Castle near Kelso, home of the Dukes of Roxburgh, to 10th century Traquair House at Peebles, said to be the oldest continuously inhabited home in Scotland. Mellerston, Paxton, Manderston, Thirlestone and of course Abbotsford House, home of Sir Walter Scott for 20 yrs - all are worthy of a visit.
On a literary note, the raw beauty of the Border countryside, the spirit of man as warrior and adventurer combined with the fertile imagination of the poet-novelist, brought forth the most famous literary name associated with the borders area, Sir Walter Scott. His historical novels, including Waverley and Rob Roy, written in the early 19th century, almost single-handedly transformed Scotland's image from that of brutal savages to one of romantic and stirring deeds allied with magnificent landscapes.
To the south west of the Borders lies the former region of Dumfries and Galloway. This is Scotland's pastoral corner where tranquillity abounds amongst remote lochs, glittering like hidden jewels set in the gentle rolling hills of Annadale, Eskdale and neighbouring valleys. Even Ailsa Craig, the granite plug of a now extinct volcano, presents a benign countenance, breaking the waves 10 miles off the western shores of Lowland Scotland. Hemmed in by the forested uplands of the Galloway Hills to the north and the flat Solway marshes to the south, where seabirds in their thousands gather on a huge nature reserve, the restful hinterland of Dumfries and Galloway enjoys a soothing subtropical climate, thanks to the warm Gulf Stream drawn up the Solway Firth. Nature's benevolent appearance however, is in stark contrast to the violent human passions that once raged across the borderlands.
These 'Debatable Lands' have a turbulent history, witnessed by the many ruined fortresses and castles that litter the area, and remembered in the passion of haunting ballads of clan battles, and most especially of Robert the Bruce, hero king of Scotland, whose every footfall lingers.