Because we are better together
About our communities
Abbey St Bathans, Bonkyl and Preston are in East Berwickshire, a rural part of the Scottish Borders about 50 miles south of Edinburgh and 80 miles north of Newcastle. The closest town is Duns, and if you want to take the train you have to cross the border to Berwick-Upon-Tweed.
Our main industries are farming and tourism. The Borders is a popular holiday destination, especially with walkers and nature-lovers, offering quiet roads and beautiful countryside.
Abbey St Bathans
Abbey St Bathans is a small village in a wooded valley, with a characterful popular old hall that is available to hire. Sadly, almost all trace of the Priory (there has never been an Abbey despite the name) has disappeared, but this is still a popular place with visitors, especially walkers. It is on both the Southern Upland Way, Scotland’s coast-to-coast route, and the Sir Walter Scott Way, which runs between Moffat and Cockburnspath.
The River Whiteadder runs through Abbey St Bathans, offering excellent brown trout fishing. Nearby is Edin’s Hall Broch, one of the few Iron Age brochs (hollow-walled drystone structures) in lowland Scotland.
Bonkyl (also known, over the years, as Boncle, Bonkil, Buncle and Bunkle) is thought to have been a settlement since the early 13th century. However, little remains now except some traces of the castle and the pretty Church of Scotland kirk, which dates back to the 1820s. Services are still held there, and it is a popular venue for weddings.
Preston, the biggest village in our community, houses the recently refurbished hall which hosts local activities and is also available to hire. On the right, when approaching from Duns, stands whitewashed Cumledge Mill and Cumledge House, all that remains of the large Laidlaw Blanket Mill which once exported high quality woollen blankets across the globe. It unfortunately ceased trading in 1954 and was later demolished after never quite recovering from both the substantial damage of the August 1948 floods, and the increasing use of quilts and duvets. Opposite Cumledge Mill are the fascinating ruins of the Old Kirk & graveyard, however, the bottom Cemetery is still in use.
Just outside the village on the B6355 road to Chirnside is Neil Logan’s Bridge, spanning Preston Burn, which records date back to 1775. This is now a listed building as it was enclosed to create a jailor cuddy, its toilet being a hole in the floor above the Burn! It is named after the last person to be held there, for the heinous crime of sheep-stealing.