Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Travel & Holidays in later life


Peebles High StreetPeebles is a tidy wee town by the River Tweed in the rolling hills of the Scottish Borders. Its history is written in stone in marriage lintels, inscriptions, coats of arms and the mercat cross. Moira McCrossan and Hugh Taylor went on a self guided tour of historic Peebles armed with a free guide from the Tourist Information Centre.


Travel Facts


Travel Insurance for over 50s

Visit our  holidays, breaks and travel options pages


Peebles is a unique Scottish market Town with lots of interesting and unusual shops.

It provides a first class base for exploring the Scottish Borders Region and for visits to nearby Edinburgh.   

For general information and accommodation details see Scottish Borders Tourism.

Tontine Hotel

39 High Street
Peebles EH45 8AN
01721 720 892

More information on Scottish travel from VisitScotland
Ocean Point One
94 Ocean Drive


Travelsphere escorted holidays


We started our walk in the High Street from the 500 year old Mercat Cross.  The Cross has stood in a number of different spots over the centuries to indicate where the market of the town was held. In bygone days cattle and other goods would have been traded here and news and decrees announced to the populace. Heading along the High Street from the Mercat Cross, the magnificent Chambers Institute is on the left, with an arch leading through to the quadrangle and the war memorial. The two ceremonial lamp standards in front once stood before the door of the provost of the town, before that ancient office was excised by the local government reorganisation of 1975. The Chambers Institute was gifted to the town in 1857 by William Chambers, the well known founder of W & R Chambers, publishers, for the purposes of social, moral and intellectual improvement. That tradition continues as the building now houses the Tweeddale Museum and Gallery. Opposite the Chamber’s Institute, the building’s original role as the Dean’s House, is recalled in Dean’s Wynd, which led from the Dean’s House to the Cross Kirk. At the end of the Chamber’s Institute is School Brae, which leads down to Tweed Green and, unsurprisingly the old schools of the town. We headed down the Brae and found a hidden corner of quirky little craft workshops, including silk painting, wood works, a photographic studio and two very different jewellers.

Opposite School Brae is the old bakery, where a carved stone panel shows the tools of the baxter’s trade, a crossed pair of wooden peels for sliding bread from the oven and a scuffle, a swab for cleaning out the oven. The inscription below reads “God provides a rich inheritans : WT : 1714”. The rather forbidding grey building next to the former bakery is the ancient Tolbooth, which also served as a jail and garrison at times.

A little further along the  High Street we came across two historic inns, the County Inn and the Tontine Hotel. The 18th century facade of the County conceals an older “bastel house” with thick barrel-vaulted walls.  The elegant Georgian Tontine Hotel, like many so-named inns of the time, was built in 1808 on the tontine principle, by a number of investors, of whom the last surviving inherited the whole.

Opposite the Tontine Hotel is Scott Brothers an old fashioned hardware store, fronted by a colourful display of household wares. Scott Brothers Hardware Store

Next door to is an unusually ornate 19th century house with stone carvings, including pediments topped with a star, a thistle and a crescent and on the façade a large, finely detailed sundial. Further along, the art deco cinema style instantly recognisable is the former Playhouse Cinema opened in 1932 and finally closed in 1977.

Returning to the south side of the High Street, a signposted pend leads to Parliament Square, so called because the Scottish parliament supposedly met here in 1346. Whether that is true or not, there is an interesting marriage lintel dated 1743, a building with a barrel-vaulted cellar and the “stinking stair” which led down to the site of the brewery and tannery on Tweed Green. Almost at the end of the High Street is the former Railway Hotel, now Whities newsagents and booksellers, with a fine old fashioned sign on the wall above the first floor. Opposite is the former Bank House, where the John Buchan, author of The 39 Steps, stayed on occasion. At the very end facing up the High Street is Peebles Old Parish Church. Built in 1885, it is a typical example of late Victorian Gothic revival, church architecture, with its ornate crown steeple. Next to the church the former Sheriff Court is now a restaurant.

The Tweed Bridge is an ancient river crossing place first built in stone in 1485, replacing a former wooden bridge. From the bridge the ruins of Neidpath Castle can be seen to the east about half a mile away on the bend of the river. Under the bridge the original 15th century bridge, just wide enough for a horse and cart is still clearly visible, as is the widening of 1834 and of 1900. We strolled along Tweed Green past the clothes posts where any citizen inclined to  can exercise their ancient right to dry their washing on the Green. The old schools however have now been converted to other uses, including craft workshops. Heading up School Brae we returned to the High Street passing the Mercat Cross and continuing along Northgate and Biggiesknowe before returning to the High Street once more. One of the great delights about a visit to Peebles is the almost total absence of chain stores. We spent more time on the Town Trail than we should have but with so many small, unusual and quirky shops to visit it’s hardly surprising.

As well as the Town Trail the guide available from the Tourist Information Office has several other local walks including a delightful stroll along the river by Neidpath Castle.



Back to

If you enjoyed this page:

Bookmark This Receive more like this  


Visit our Pre-retirement Courses section here on laterlife or our dedicated Retirement Courses site

back to laterlife travel

Site map and site search



Advertise on

LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti