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

Travel Report: Galashiels Town Centre, Scotland.

Galashiels High Street The Scottish Borders.

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 parents live now. Hence I’ll undoubtedly find myself back here every year or two in between my global adventures. Reaching these rural 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 out to Kelso. The damn thing stopped at everyone’s house along the way and took 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 at Galashiels Railway Station.

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.

Visit Galashiels Scotland.

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 Gateway Mural Chris Rutterford.

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 came to take part in the mural’s unveiling!

Quins, Galashiels.

Quins Restaurant Galashiels Scotland.

Quins Restaurant, Coffee House and Bar, Galashiels.

Galashiels is a lovely place for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I can recommend Quins Restaurant, a quaint eatery with very friendly staff. You can find them right opposite Tesco’s.

Haggis neeps and tatties Quins Restaurant Galashiels.

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 to Quins we went for what ended up being quite a feast! I do love me some haggis, neeps and tatties! Therefore I’m pleased to report that Quins did not disappoint.

Lunch at Quins Restaurant Galashiels Scotland.

Full stomachs and empty plates at Quins.

Similarly, Mum was pleased with her prawn cocktail sandwich and oven cooked fries. Sadly, we were way too full for dessert. Which was a pity, because their sweets counter looked very tempting! For more info on Quins, head to their website.

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 Our Lady and Saint Andrew was 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. Furthermore, you may be surprised to read that confession here is available in Polish!

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”. 

Robert Coltart Coulter's Candy Galashiels.

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 at the very least it’s a cute memento or gift.

Galashiels Town Centre, Scotland.

Kayleigh by Marillion Market Square Galashiels.

“Kayleigh”, a song inspired by one man’s memories of Galashiels in the early 1980s.

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

Kayleigh by Marillion lyrics Market Square Galashiels.

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 and the lawn was illuminated by a handful of lampposts and a beautiful Christmas tree.

Bank Street Gardens Galashiels Scotland.

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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