Venture Through the Intriguing Village of Newcastleton
The village of Newcastleton, situated close to the border between Scotland and England, is the largest settlement in Liddesdale, Scotland. The village was planned by the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch in the 18th century. To achieve his objective of developing handloom weaving in the area, the Duke had 220 houses built, many of which had a large front window to allow as much light as possible into the house for the benefit of the weavers.
The village, which is long and narrow, has Douglas Square as the central point and fits snugly between the Liddel Water and the rising ground to the west. A variety of shops and other facilities are found along the main street, with the Liddesdale Hotel and the Grapes Hotel near Douglas Square. The Heritage Center, a museum highlighting the culture and history of Liddesdale is housed in the former Townfoot Church, which was built in 1803.
Hermitage Castle, about five miles to the north of Newcastleton, illustrates the troubled history of the front line wars between England and Scotland. It is a forbidding and sinister looking edifice, which changed ownership frequently during its tumultuous history. Nicholas de Soulis built a wooden castle on the Hermitage Castle site in 1242, which was replaced by a stronger stone structure by the first Earl of Douglas in 1371. The 3rd Earl of Douglas added four great stone towers to the corners of the existing castle which is how the castle remained. The castle fell into disuse in the early part of the 17th century and today is an interesting tourist attraction.
In present times, Newcastleton is a destination enjoyed by tourists, as well as being a popular venue for mountain-biking enthusiasts. The beautiful scenery and varied terrain is enjoyed by cyclists of varying levels of ability. The so called “red route” provides a challenge for the most expert cyclist with 10.5 kilometers of track that crosses bridges and boardwalks, finishing off with a breath-taking descent from Swarf Hill. Those who master the red route may want to try the black-graded or extreme route to test their cycling skills.
Anyone traveling to Scotland, will find the village of Newcastleton, with its long and interesting history and its scenic surroundings, to be a lovely place to spend some time exploring.