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The local area guide to living in Selkirk

The Royal Burgh of Selkirk in the Scottish Borders is a small town in the Ettrick Water. It is famous for its bucolic surroundings and annual festivals, including the 500 year old Selkirk Common Riding in which more than 400 riders take part.

Selkirk, one of the oldest Royal Burghs in Scotland, is an ancient settlement. It was the site of the very first Border Abbey, and was the site where William Wallace was formally declared the Overlord of Scotland. Other famous individuals with connections to Selkirk include Sir Walter Scott, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Outlaw Murray.

For many centuries the town relied on its wool industry, which fuelled its growth. However, that industry has since the declined and it now has no single dominating export. Selkirk is known for bannocks, a sort of fruit cake, and its associations with famous writers and poets who enjoyed the local landscape. Just outside the town is also Scotland's oldest horse racing track, Gala Rig.

Selkirk Common Riding, the town's famous festival, commemorates the Battle of Flodden. 80 riders left the town to do battle with the English. Just one returned, with a bloodied English flag draped around him, before he too fell. The festival occurs every June and includes celebrations of the town's history and traditions.

Information about the local residents

Selkirk is a relatively small town, with a population of just 5,784 according to the 2011 census. The average age, at 43.8, is above the Scottish average of 40.3. 21.3% are over the age of 65, 62.1% are of working age and just 16.6% are children under the age of 16.

Like many other rural towns in Scotland, there is only a very small immigrant population. 87% of people identify as White Scottish, while 9.7% identify as White Other British.

Selkirk has a relatively low unemployment rate at 4.2%, less than the national rate. There is no one dominant industry, but the biggest employers are the wholesale, retail trade, human health and social work sectors. Most people, nearly 70%, drive to work.

60.5% of households are owner occupied, slightly less than the national rate of 62%. 9.6% are privately rented, and 28.9% function as some form of social housing. 18.7% of houses are detached, 22.1% are semi-detached, 26.6% are terraced and 32.4% are flats, apartments or maisonettes.

On average, the people of Selkirk have achieved fewer academic qualifications than the national average. 30.9% of people have no formal qualifications, and just 22.6% have achieved Level 4 qualifications or more.

The locals report very high states of general health. 50.6% say their health is 'very good' and 32% say it is 'good'. Just 4.2% say their health is 'bad' or 'very bad'.

Nearby schools

Selkirk has two primary schools feeding into one secondary school.

The primary schools are Knowepark Primary School and Philiphaugh Community School. Knowepark is a nondenominational school, as is Philphaugh.

Selkirk High School's ethos is to 'provide an experience that will encourage all students to succeed in reaching their full potential and in doing so develop into considerate, caring and confident young adults'.

Getting around

Selkirk sits right on the A7, the main road crossing the Scottish Borders north to south. Edinburgh is around 40 miles to the north, with the drive taking about an hour. Carlisle is 60 miles to the south.

Selkirk's railway station is no longer in use, but the nearby town of Galashiels is on the Borders Railway which offers links to Edinburgh and other towns across the Scottish Borders.

Local shops

Selkirk is a very small town, and its retail options reflect that. Its shops are largely small, independently owned stores offering gifts, local produce and artisan goods. There are also a collection of charity shops, as well as the supermarket The Co-operative.

The town also has some good little cafes and tea rooms, as well as some cosy pubs with a warm atmosphere.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.