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London’s big, but Biggar’s Biggar!

HOW far do you have to travel to have a proper stay away from home? In our case it turned out to be not very far at all, less than an hour away, to find wonderful food and great hospitality at the Elphinstone Hotel in the heart of the historic market town of Biggar.

They’ve a good conceit of themselves in these parts, and not without justification, as the local gift shops sell mugs and aprons emblazoned with “London’s big, but Biggar’s Biggar.” Just 40 miles from Glasgow and 30 from Edinburgh, the town is in South Lanarkshire but has a distinctly Borders feel to it, nestling between the Clyde and the Tweed. Perhaps the best thing about the former burgh is that its High Street retains a good mixture of local shops which adds greatly to its bustling nature.

We had been invited to sample dinner, bed and breakfast at the Elphinstone Hotel, so we decided to make a proper trip of it, heading off in the morning down to Peebles and along to Stobo for the outpost of the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh at Dawyck. Spread over 65 acres of hillside it has one of the finest tree collections in Britain, some dating back to the 17th century, as well as plants from Europe, China, Nepal, Japan and North America, bringing fabulous seasonal riots of colour from snowdrops, bluebells, rhododendrons, azaleas and blue poppies. The garden closes for December and January but we have seen it blanketed in snow in April and this most recent visit saw the beginning of the turning shades of autumn. It’s not to be missed.

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124 sizzling pages of the best crack in Scotland!