"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Travel Report: Galashiels Town Centre, Scotland.

Galashiels High Street The Scottish Borders.

Galashiels Town Centre.

December, 2019. The Scottish community of Galashiels is a typical Borders town in many ways. Huddled snugly between lush terraces of green farmland, it’s a pretty enough place with a handful of charming spots. Ultimately though, there is very little to see and do.

Not that this is a particularly terrible thing. Younger Leighton would have been bored senseless by the prospect of an afternoon wandering around Galashiels Town Centre. However, I’ve grown to love these little corners of Scotland and am now able to appreciate the Galashiels of this world for what they are.

Galashiels Railway Station Scotland.

Galashiels Railway Station.

Galashiels is where my dad lives. Hence I invariably find myself back here every two to three years in between my global adventures. Reaching The Scottish Borders’ towns and villages from Edinburgh is a lot easier since the Borders Railway opened back in September 2015.

I remember only too well the days of having to catch a bus from the Scottish capital. The damn thing stopped at everyone’s house along the way, taking over two hours. In contrast, the train takes just fifty minutes and has complimentary WIFI. As long as you’re not travelling at rush hour, it’s usually a smooth and peaceful ride.

Galashiels Town Centre, Scotland.

Born in the Borders Cafe Galashiels Scotland.

Born in the Borders Cafe.

Moreover, Galashiels Railway Station has a cute little cafe called Born in The Borders. The local woman who runs the place makes an excellent cup of coffee, along with a range of traditional Scottish pastries, pies and cakes. Their savoury pies are especially good.

Galashiels Town Centre

The Gala Water running through Galashiels Town Centre.

It’s literally a one minute walk into Galashiels Town Centre from the station. Just head for the footbridge over a pretty section of The Gala Water. As you go, take a moment to admire the impressive Galashiels Gateway Mural, unveiled in October 2016.

Galashiels Town Centre

The Galashiels Gateway Mural.

The artist Chris Rutterford created the mural in association with the community development organisation Energise Galashiels. He took inspiration from The Flying Scotsman, which passed through the town in May 2016. During the creation process, the artist asked local volunteers to model for him. The Scottish politician and former Liberal Party leader Sir David Steel also came to take part in the mural’s unveiling!

Quins, Galashiels.

Quins Restaurant Galashiels Scotland.

Quins Restaurant: Galashiels Town Centre.

Galashiels has some excellent dining options for such a small town. I can highly recommend Quins Restaurant Coffeehouse & Bar, a quaint eatery with friendly staff. You can find them right opposite Tesco’s near Market Square.

Galashiels Town Centre

A lunchtime feast at Quins in Galashiels.

I took my mum here for lunch once. We hadn’t seen each other in two years, so off we went for what ended up being quite a feast! Whenever I stay in Scotland I always treat myself to a plate of haggis, neeps and tatties. And happily Quins didn’t disappoint.

Lunch at Quins Restaurant Galashiels Scotland.

Full stomachs and empty plates at Quins.

Similarly, mum loved her prawn cocktail sandwich and oven cooked fries. Unfortunately, we were way too full for dessert. Which was a pity, because their sweets counter looked very tempting!

Galashiels Town Centre, Scotland.

Our Lady and St. Andrew Church Galashiels Scotland.

Our Lady and St. Andrew Church, Galashiels.

Galashiels’ most impressive church is the Gothic revival structure Our Lady and St. Andrew on Market Street. The famed British barrister James Hope-Scott and his wife Charlotte played a major role in building the church between 1856-1858.

Our Lady and St. Andrew Galashiels.

Inside Our Lady and St. Andrew, Galashiels.

Today you can see a memorial plaque to Hope-Scott on one of the stone pillars. It lies just to your right, immediately after you enter. By the 1940s it had become the church of choice for the town’s Polish community. As a result, it was Polish funding that gifted the beautiful Madonna & Child window, located in the Sanctuary.

Coulter's Candy Statue Galashiels Scotland.

Robert Coltart Statue, Galashiels.

Keep an eye out for the charming Robert Coltart Statue on Market Square. Unveiled in September 2019, the statue stands in tribute to Coltart and his homemade confectionary business, Coulter’s Candy.

“All bally, ally bally bee!

Sittin’ on your mammy’s knee

Greeting for a wee bawbee 

Tae buy some Coulter’s Candy”. 

Galashiels Town Centre.

Robert Coltart Memorial, Galashiels.

Coltart used to roam between The Scottish Borders towns selling his aniseed flavoured sweets. To help him create a buzz, he wrote a song about his candy. The tune became so popular it was actually learned by local families and passed down the generations. The Scottish sculptor Angela Hunter made the sculpture, working alongside local historians to ensure an authentic likeness.

Alex Dalgetty and Sons Bakers.

Alex Dalgetty & Sons Bakers, Galashiels Town Centre.

If you find yourself tickled by the Robert Coltart story, you should certainly head down to Bank Street to Alex Dalgetty & Sons Bakers. Because here you can buy bags of cookies and sweets in Coulter’s Candy packaging. I’m not sure how authentic the recipe is, but it’s definitely a cute memento or gift.

Galashiels Town Centre, Scotland.

Kayleigh by Marillion Market Square Galashiels.

Galashiels Town Centre.

Also on Market Square, look out for the engraved lyrics to Kayleigh, a 1985 hit single by the British rock band Marillion. They’re literally just across from the Robert Coltart statue. The song, written and sung by the singer Fish, draws heavily on his romance with a woman studying in Galashiels at the College of Textiles.

“Do you remember the cherry blossom in the Market Square?”

Kayleigh was a number 2 hit for Marillion and stayed in the charts for around fourteen weeks. The engraved lyrics were added to the square in 2012, though sadly no traces of that long ago cherry blossom tree remain.

Galashiels Town Centre.

Market Square, Galashiels.

Finally, if the weather is fine, one can always drop onto a bench at Bank Street Gardens and watch the world go by. During my last visit to Galashiels it was a chilly December evening as I passed through the gardens. Everything was still and silent, the lawn illuminated by a handful of lampposts and a beautiful Christmas tree.

Galashiels Town Centre.

Bank Street Gardens, Galashiels.

Like this? Have a look at more of my pieces from around Galashiels. 

You can also check out more of my reports from The Scottish Borders.

To delve further afield, dive into my travel articles from all around Scotland.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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