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

Travel Report: Sweethope, The Scottish Borders.

Sweethope Hill The Scottish Borders

The tiny hamlet of Sweethope lies deep in the heart of The Scottish Borders, about a twelve minute drive from the market town of Kelso. I moved here in 2003 with my mum, dad, brother Cory and Inde the dog. I remember being less than excited about the prospect of life in this isolated outpost. After all, I figured this was just another temporary location in the Thomas Family Scotland Roadshow. 

Sweethope Farm Cottages Kelso The Scottish Borders.

Sweethope, The Scottish Borders. 2003.

Furthermore, Sweethope was nothing more than half a dozen cottages, a large farm, loads of fields and a steep hill. I mean seriously, it was hardly New York City. Twenty five year old Leighton was not impressed.

4 Sweethope Farm Cottages Kelso The Scottish Borders.

4 Sweethope Farm Cottages. July 2004.

The Thomas family lived at 4 Sweethope Farm Cottages in a spacious and homely four bedroom property. A small garden at the back held sweeping views over the Borders countryside. A log fire in the living room kept us all toasty during the harsh Scottish winters. Little did I know it, but this place would go on to provide some of the best memories of my young adulthood.

This is where I researched and planned my first ever spell of solo travel in India. And it was here that I used to read Harry Potter to my then seven year old brother. Moreover, Sweethope was the setting for an intense summer romance, documented in my short story Car Crash Girl Part II.

Wedding prep Sweethope The Scottish Borders.

Calming the nerves at Sweethope.

Sweethope also served as the Thomas family’s Wedding Prep HQ in March 2008. My sister was getting married in the nearby town of Galashiels. Here she is as cool as a cucumber in the living room getting her hair done while sipping from a glass of rosé.

Wedding preparations Sweethope The Scottish Borders.

Dressed to kill for my sister’s wedding. March, 2008.

I’d flown over from Brussels where I was living at the time to join the festivities. My dad and Cory had very bravely rented kilts, a look I felt I couldn’t quite pull off.

Barry's Bridal Classic Cars The Scottish Borders.

Wedding day at Sweethope. 22nd of March, 2008.

I’m sure the neighbours had never seen anything like it when the bride’s wheels rolled up that day. If you find yourself in The Scottish Borders and quite like the sound of being driven around in style, get in touch with Barry’s Bridal Classic Cars.

Sweethope Farm The Scottish Borders December 2007.

The trail to Sweethope Hill.

Despite my initial apathy, I soon grew to love Sweethope’s rural setting. Especially the walking trail at the end of the road that leads to Sweethope Hill. Inde and I must have come out here a thousand times for walks over the years.

Sweethope The Scottish Borders December 2006.

Sweethope in deep frost.

It was always a great place for solitude and gathering one’s thoughts. Even if I had to be on constant alert for Inde trying to roll in cow shit. “Nooooo! Bad doggy!!!” She used to drive us crazy, but of course we were all devastated when she passed away in December 2006.

Sweethope The Scottish Borders.

With Inde on the trail up to Sweethope Hill.

The walk up to Sweethope Hill takes about half an hour and at times the going can get pretty steep. Bumping into anybody else along the way was extremely rare. I loved how everything always looked so still, almost like a painting.

Sweethope Hill The Scottish Borders

Sweethope Hill, The Scottish Borders.

There were so many wonderful Christmases here over the years. Actually, when I think of the Thomas’ Xmas golden years, I think of Sweethope and The Scottish Borders.

Snowy Sweethope sign The Scottish Borders.

Snowy Sweethope, The Scottish Borders.

Sure, I was kind of grown up at this point. But there were still stockings hanging over the fire, viewings of The Snowman and crazy piles of presents on Christmas morning.

Christmas at Sweethope The Scottish Borders.

Cory enjoying A Very Sweethope Christmas.

During those later Yuletide years I was living in The Netherlands. However, I still made it back to Sweethope most Decembers. I just had to get my fix of The Muppet Christmas Carol, mince pies, Christmas Eve curry, Christmas Day Yorkshire pudding and Boxing Day football.

Christmas dinner at Sweethope The Scottish Borders.

Mum working some Christmas dinner magic in the kitchen at Sweethope.

A particularly memorable Christmas Day came in 2013 when the weather was just gorgeous. I think it was the first time in years that it wasn’t snowing or pouring down with rain. Even better, the perfect blue sky literally demanded that we go out for a hike up Sweethope Hill.

Sweethope Scottish Borders Christmas Day 2013.

Hiking around Sweethope. Christmas Day, 2013.

At this time my parents had welcomed a second Brittany into the fold. It was great to have a family dog again and Solo was just as crazy about Sweethope Hill as Inde had been.

Dog walking Sweethope The Scottish Borders.

Solo ready to take on Sweethope Hill.

The process was just the same. Follow the trail through the fields, open the gate, squeeze under the electric wire and launch into the breathless ten minute scramble up to the top.

Climbing Sweethope Hill The Scottish Borders.

Climbing Sweethope Hill. Christmas Day, 2013.

At Sweethope Hill’s 220 meter summit you’ll see the modest remains of a prehistoric fort. But actually the hill’s main draw is its amazing views. On a good day like this you can see for miles.

Farmland views from Sweethope Hill The Scottish Borders.

Views over The Scottish Borders from Sweethope Hill.

You certainly have to be careful descending Sweethope Hill. Especially if the grass is slippy from recent rainfall. Over the years we all learned the best ways to get back down.

Descending Sweethope Hill The Scottish Borders.

Descending Sweethope Hill. Christmas Day, 2013.

My last visit to Sweethope was in July 2015. ’d just got back from a three and a half month trip around Asia and it was great to be back in the fresh Scottish countryside. With twelve years of memories built up here, it’s no wonder I miss those Sweethope days.

Sweethope Hill The Scottish Borders July 2015.

Amid the ever changing environments of my vagabond lifestyle, Sweethope was a reassuringly familiar place I could always return to for some much needed perspective.

Dog walking Sweethope The Scottish Borders.

Sweethope, The Scottish Borders. July, 2015.

Like this? Check out more reports from around The Scottish Borders.

To delve further afield, you can also take a look at 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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2 Comments

  • Beverley

    Sweethope was my favourite home. The Scottish Borders are beautiful so it is little surprise that we have returned yet again. Smashing photo’s and memories Leighton.

    December 8, 2019 - 10:37 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks, this was one was particularly enjoyable to write.

      December 8, 2019 - 10:38 am Reply

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