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Selkirk is a market town in the Scottish Borders, with a population in 2020 of 4540. Its main trade of textiles has gone, and it's becoming a commuter town for Edinburgh, linked by the re-opened railway through nearby Galashiels. The main reason to visit is to explore the hills of Ettrick Forest.

Get in


Selkirk is on A7, the traditional road between Carlisle and Edinburgh. From east side of England follow A1 then A68 to Jedburgh and St Boswells, then go west on A699.

Borders Bus X95 runs every two hours daily from Edinburgh along A7 via Galashiels to Selkirk, taking 1 hour 40 min. It's quicker to take the train from Edinburgh to Galashiels then change to the X95, which between Galashiels, Selkirk and Hawick runs every 30 min. The two-hourly service continues south along A7 beyond Hawick to Langholm, Canonbie, Longtown and Carlisle, another 1 hr 40.

Bus 73 also plies hourly between Galashiels and Selkirk, taking 20 min.

There isn't a bus station, the stop is at the town crossroads in Market Place.

Get around


You need a car if you want to explore the hills.


  • 1 Halliwell's House Museum, Halliwell's Close, Market Place TD7 4BL, +44 1750 726456. Apr-Oct: Tu-Sa 11AM-4PM. Small museum of local history. Donation.
  • Auld Kirk next to the museum was built in 1748 but abandoned and falling into ruin from 1861: the graveyard is worth exploring. Nothing remains of Selkirk Abbey, whose monks decamped to Kelso in the 12th century.
  • 2 Mungo Park Monument stands outside the house where Park (1771-1806) was an apprentice surgeon, before studying medicine and natural history at Edinburgh. In 1796 he was the first European to reach the River Niger, which arises close to the Atlantic yet flows east, away from it, to where? Into the Nile or Congo? In 1805 Park began a second expedition to follow its course, but this was beset by bad weather, fatal infections, and hostilities with local rulers. He sought to avoid contact while rafting downriver but shot indiscriminately at all who approached. Below Yauri his raft became stuck on a rock in the Bussa Rapids, with locals raining spears and arrows from the banks. Park and his men tried to swim for it but were drowned. Not until 1830 did others sail down to the coast, to find that swamps in what is now Nigeria were concealing the outflow of a mighty river.
  • The Courtroom on Market Place is where Sir Walter Scott dispensed justice. It's open Apr-Oct: Th-M 11AM-4PM, free. There's an imposing statue of Scott outside, and a plaque to the Hungarian statesman Lajos Kossuth, who toured Scotland in 1856. But no marker for Alexander Selkirk (1676-1721) the model for Robinson Crusoe — he had no connection with Selkirk town. He was born in Fife and followed a piratical career much more colourful than Defoe's tedious castaway hero.
Bowhill House
  • 3 The Haining is a grand mansion of 1790. In 2009 it was bequeathed to the town and public, but so far it hasn't been made generally available. It's an occasional wedding venue, and you can stroll around the small loch. The undistinguished hillock is all that remains of Selkirk Castle.
  • 4 Bowhill House and Estate, Duchess's Drive, Selkirk TD7 5ET (off A708 three miles west of Selkirk), +44 1750 22204. House Aug daily; grounds Jun-Aug daily. The original house of 1708 was a modest summer residence, then from 1800 it burgeoned into this imposing villa. There's a large collection of artworks by old masters, and country estate with gardens. The House can only be seen by guided tour in August and a few other dates. House adult £12, conc £10, child £6; Grounds £6 / £4 / £4. Bowhill House on Wikipedia
  • 5 Newark Castle is the ruin of a 16th century tower house. It replaced the "Auld Wark" towards Bowhill.
  • 6 Aikwood Tower is another 16th century tower house. By the 18th century it was just a storage area for a farm, but was restored in the 1990s by the politician Sir David Steel (b 1938). It's now upmarket self-catering accommodation.
  • 7 Kirkhope Tower is yet another, way out in the Ettrick Hills. It's been restored as a private residence.


Newark Castle
  • Rugby: Selkirk RFC play rugby union in the Premiership, the amateur top tier in Scotland. Their home ground is Philphaugh (capacity 6000) by the riverside south edge of town. The Selkirk Sevens tournament is played here in May.
  • Hike in the surrounding hills and lonely forests of Ettrick. Walk Highlands suggest over a dozen trails, including the Southern Upland Way. The local section of this is along the ridge from Yair to Traquair near Innerleithen.
  • Golf: Selkirk GC is south edge of town on A7. Woll GC is at Ashkirk, further down A7 towards Hawick.
  • Selkirk Leisure Centre on Buccleuch Rd has a pool, gym and fitness classes.
  • Selkirk Common Riding is the ancient custom of horseriders "beating the bounds". It's held on the second Friday after the first Monday in June.


  • Co-op Food is open daily 7AM-10PM.


"Beating the Bounds" at the Common Riding
Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it; But we hae meat and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit.
- The "Selkirk Grace" probably originated in Galloway, but became better known when Burns recited it before a dinner laid on by the Earl of Selkirk
  • In town centre are Taste of Spice, Happy Gathering, The Fleece and Ozkan's Grill. Tony's Tower does fish & chips takeaways.
  • A local speciality is Selkirk Bannock, a round bread made with a lot of raisins.


  • O'Malley's Sports Bar at 10 The Valley is open F-Su noon-midnight.
  • Distillery: Selkirk Distillers make gin. No tours, their shop on High St is open M-Sa 11AM-4PM.


The Rugby Club also has a website
  • County Hotel, 3 High St TD7 4BZ, +44 1750 705000. Comfy clean place in town centre. B&B double £95.
  • 1 Glen Hotel, Yarrow Terrace TD7 5AS (A707), +44 1750 20259. Pleasant dog-friendly small hotel. No evening meals F-Su. B&B double £110.
  • 2 Philipburn Hotel (Best Western Signature), Linglie Rd TD7 4LS (Jcn A707 & A708), +44 333 003 4272. Immaculate upscale hotel, gets rave reviews for comfort and service. B&B double £150.



As of May 2022, the town has 4G from all UK carriers. 5G has not reached this area.

Go next

  • For ruined but impressive Borders abbeys, head for Melrose, Dryburgh, Jedburgh and Kelso.
  • Traquair House is a proto-Baronial concoction near Innerleithen.
  • Hawick is a market town similar to Selkirk on the road to Carlisle.
  • Edinburgh is the big attraction to the north.
Routes through Selkirk
EdinburghMelrose/Galashiels  N  S  HawickCarlisle

This city travel guide to Selkirk is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.