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KELSO, ten miles or so downstream from Melrose, grew up in the shadow of its now-ruined Benedictine abbey (April– Dec daily; free), once the richest and most powerful of the Border abbeys. The English savaged Kelso three times in the first half of the sixteenth century, and such was the extent of the devastation – compounded by the Reformation – that less survives of Kelso than any of the Border abbeys. Nevertheless, at first sight, it looks pretty impressive, with the heavy Norman west end of the abbey church almost entirely intact. Beyond, little remains, though it is possible to make out the two transepts and towers that gave the abbey the shape of a double cross, unique in Scotland.
Kelso town managed to rebuild itself and is now centred on TheSquare, a large cobbled expanse presided over by the honey-hued Ionic columns, pediment and oversized clock belltower of the elegant Town Hall. Leaving the Square along Roxburgh Street, take the alley down to the Cobby Riverside Walk, where a brief stroll leads to Floors Castle. En route, but hidden from view by the islet in the middle of the river, is the spot where the Teviot meets the Tweed. This bit of river, known as The Junction, has long been famous for its salmon fishing, with permits – costing thousands – booked years in advance. Permits for fishing other, less expensive reaches of the Tweed and Teviot are available from Tweedside Tackle, 36 Bridge St (Tel:01573/225306, Web: www.tweedsidetackle.co.uk ).