New guides highlights our literary attractions

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BORDERS locations associated with great works of literature and their famous creators are featured in a newly published guidebook, produced by the national tourism promotion agency VisitScotland.

Abbotsford, the 19th-century home of Sir Walter Scott, and the Old Manse at Ednam, birthplace of the poet James Thomson who wrote the lyrics of Rule Britannia, are among 60 landmarks included in Literary Scotland: A Traveller’s Guide – written by Alan Riach, the noted poet and professor of Scottish literary studies at Glasgow University.

He says: “This little book is only a beginning, a first list of locations significant to writers or literary visitors to Scotland. The idea was simply to open a few doors, to suggest a few ways of thinking about what Scottish literature might do to help us really inhabit the country more fully.”

It is the first guide of its kind assembled by VisitScotland which regional director Sandy Hellowell hopes will appeal to residents and visitors alike.

Other Borders locations of note include the James Hogg monument at St Mary’s Loch, Smailholm Tower and nearby Sandyknowe Farm, where Scott spent part of his childhood, while the work of prominent writers such as Allan Massie from Selkirk and George McDonald Fraser is also highlighted.

The Borders is one of the 13 geographical areas into which the guide is divided.

Also featured is Loch Katrine – the setting for Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake, the 1810 poem credited with kick-starting the literary tourism phenomenon in Scotland.

Scottish author Iain Banks, writer of more than 20 novels, including The Bridge, Complicity and The Crow Road, has described the guide as: “a valuable introduction to the many fascinating links between Scotland and literature”.

Ms Hellowell told us: “The Borders has been a rich source of inspiration for writers for centuries and this new guide highlights just some of the region’s fascinating places associated with literature.

“We hope that the guide will appeal to people living in Scotland who want to learn more about Scottish writers and associated locations, as well as provide an interesting hook to visitors from further afield.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest from people visiting film locations in Scotland, so we hope the literary angle will have a similar strong appeal.”

The guide is now available at VisitScotland tourist information centres. It can also be download from the websites of VisitScotland, ASLS and Creative Scotland.