Abbotsford House Witch Corner trail witches

{Scotland} Abbotsford House & Witch Corner with Kids

We love going on day trips, and don’t let the fact we don’t have a care hold us back. We quite often venture out to East Lothian or Fife, but our latest day trip took us ‘down’ to the Scottish Borders. Our destination was Abbotsford House, home of Sir Walter Scott. Specifically, we wanted to check out the newly opened ‘Witch Corner’.

Abbotsford House Witch Corner trail

‘Witch Corner’ at Abbotsford takes you on a fabulous interactive story trail directly inspired by the writings and research of Sir Walter Scott himself.  ‘Witch Corner’ was Scott’s nickname for his favourite section of the Abbotsford Library, his collection of 250 rare books about witchcraft, magic, folklore, and superstition.

The trail links twelve story stops, each with beautiful, wooden sculptures. The woodland setting adds to the enchanting atmosphere. Along the trail, there are also some play areas with a swing, balancing beam, climbing frame, slide and a few other things. 

Abbotsford House Witch Corner play area

Sign in at the Witch’s Cottage, where you will receive an activity booklet and pencil. Solve the clues and complete the activities as you go round the trail. There’s also an audio guide available – you can scan the QR code at the Witch’s Cottage to load it on your phone – which gives you some more information on each legend or folktale.

The trails around an hour to complete, though it depends a little on how much time your children spend on the play equipment.

Abbotsford House Witch Corner trail witches

As well as Witch’s Corner, there’s Abbotsford House itself to see, including the chapel and gardens. We were still early in the year, so there wasn’t that much growing in the garden yet, but it was still lovely to walk around. 

Abbotsford House
Abbotsford House Gardens

Abbotsford House is viewable via a self guided audio tour. There’s a General Tour, as well as a ‘Sir Walter Scott Tour’ (told from the view of the author himself), and the ‘Hines & Maida Tour’ for children, told by Sir Walter Scott’s pet cat and dog. The highlight of the tour is the library, but the study, drawing room, armoury and dining room all had interesting things to see and listen to.

My 8 yr old particularly liked the painting of Sir Walter Scott’s great grandfather, that was labeled “Beardie” (he did have quite an impressive beard), and my 12 yr old’s favourite object was a tiny (I forgot to note down who it was of…) in a frame about ten times the size, which he thought was a bit ridiculous. Besides the audio guide, there was also an Easter scavenger hunt, where you had to find the pictures of Easter eggs hidden around the house, but they said they do other scavenger hunts at different times of the year too.

Finally, there’s the Abbotsford House Visitor Centre, which includes an exhibition on the life of Sir Walter Scott. In hindsight, we probably should have gone to see that first, or at least before the tour of the house, to put everything in to context. The exhibition had a wee trail for kids too. 

Abbotsford House kids trail

There’s a nice cafe on the top floor of the visitor centre, but we opted to get some ice lollies to go, to eat on our walk back to the train station.

How to get there

To get to Abbotsford House, take the train from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank, which takes one hour, then it’s a half an hour walk from Tweedbank station to the house. You could also take a bus from the station, that stops near the house, or there’s a shuttle bus that goes from the station directly to the house on selected days during the week. Details are on the Abbotsford House website.

Useful to know

Abbotsford House is open all year round. Times vary. You can find the up-to-date details on their website under ‘Plan Your Visit’.

Costs will depend of course on how many people you are visiting with and what their ages are. Witch Corner has a separate entry free from Abbotsford House & Gardens, and both offer a family ticket option which works out a little cheaper than paying separately. You can get a 30% discount on House & Garden tickets on arrival with a Witch Corner ticket, or vice versa, but buying Witch Corner tickets first and getting the discount on the House & Gardens tickets will get you a bigger saving. Also, if you have an older child (11+) with a Young Scot card, it’s only £1 for the House & Gardens, which can then work out cheaper getting single tickets instead of a family ticket. It’s worth going over all the tickets options and figuring our what’s best for your group before jumping in to buy tickets. 

If Witch Corner, the Visitor Centre exhibition, and the House & Gardens tour isn’t enough for you, you can also go for walks around Abbotsford Estate, and there’s a walks map, a woodland trail, and a whole range of activity and colouring sheets to download for free from the ‘Family Fun’ section of the Abbotsford website.

(last edited: 12 July 2023 – images updated)

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