My name is Joe Murray, I am 23 years old, and I am currently doing an internship with a Galashiels-based business.
I initially came to the town purely for the work experience but quickly fell in love with its cute, wholesome vibes, its rich history, and scenic views of the surrounding hills.
Galashiels feels like a thriving town; I couldn’t believe a place with as small a population could have such an amazing selection of shops, pubs, restaurants, and tourist attractions. I truly underestimated the place and know for a fact I will visit frequently in the years to come.
There is a solid foundation which Galashiels has built upon, and there is so much potential for the town to build a reputation as a great visitor destination. It’s the perfect blend of a calm, comforting getaway from the major cities whilst having a great selection of local necessities to make the stay possible without a car.
On my 4th day on the job, my employer mentioned the town had an architectural trail and asked if I’d like to try it out. The new interactive feature of the town centre is a digital experience structured via 13 QR codes in different locations. A physical and digital experience – of course I wanted to try it out.
The trail was an amazing experience from start to finish, with an array of different architectural styles which vary in dates from the 1500s, all the way through to the 2010s. All the different points on the trail have contributed to what makes Galashiels such an amazing town, in its own unique way.
The trail is well designed in terms of distance; the longest walk from one point to the next is around 20 minutes, meaning it’s suitable for all generations of the family to do together.
All points of the trail really helped me, as an outsider, understand the core of what Galashiels represents, and the ‘pretty and gritty’ style the town displays on account of its architectural identity.
The trail starts in the town centre, at the Interchange, which is perfect due to easy accessibility from train or bus stations if just visiting for the day. It then conveniently takes you on a loop around the west side of the town centre, all the way down to the east side of the town, where the High Mill and 3G Arena sit.
Each point of the trail has an exemplar piece of architecture, with a description of the purpose of each building, followed by an illustration by Sarah Lyons or Lara Gueldner, which really helps bring the journey together on the website. The drawings all follow a similar theme and bring the digital experience around full circle as each drawing feels like somewhat of a token, in the sense of viewing each point means collecting them all.
My favourite pit stops on the journey were the Old Gala House and the Gala Aisle. Both locations are considered historical examples of architecture and were built in the 16th and 17th centuries. Both the buildings were eerie and exhilarating to be around, due to The Gala Aisle being surrounded by gravestones and the Old Gala House having a very dated Victorian design inside.
Anyone that is considering visiting Galashiels, I strongly recommend you do so and be sure to check out the architectural trail. It’s an amazing experience, free of cost, and really allows you to get to know the town whilst learning about its history at the same time.
It’s the perfect activity to do with friends or family, especially on a nice summer’s day. A great opportunity to bring the family together, work as a team to find all the codes on the trail and make memories with one another.