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Gilnockie Tower

History & Heritage

The Esk Valley Reiver Centre, Gilnockie Tower.

It is also the ancestral home the Clan Armstrong.


Gilnockie Tower will be temporarily closed until the 1st March 2022 due to alterations to the building and exhibits.

However, if you are in the Gilnockie Tower area, with a burning ambition to visit, please allow at least  at least 12 hours warning. Please phone ahead on one of our two website advertised phone numbers and we will respond to reasonable requests. Thank you, Gilnockie Tower.’

Please visit our website for some fantastic new Walks and Tours focussed around Canonbie and the Border Reiver Trails or visit the walking section of Visit South West Scotland

History, Mystery and Discovery while exploring the far-reaching lands of the Scottish Border Reivers.

Join us for an enthralling 500 years of Anglo-Scottish History at Gilnockie Tower. 

Gilnockie Tower is a stunning example of a Scottish Pele tower, built some five centuries ago.

It was home to Johnnie Armstrong, a notorious Anglo-Scottish border reiver. In 1530 this powerful Laird was hanged by a young Scottish king, James V, his story was romanticised by Sir Walter Scott.

Once a roofless ruin, the building has been completely refurbished and is open as a clan and visitor attraction. The Tower has five floors, including a vaulted chamber, banqueting hall and a 72 step spiral staircase.

The embedded stone in the entrance passageway into the vaulted chamber is thought to be two thousand years old.

The Centre houses reiving artefacts, and the world’s largest collection of Armstrong archives.

For the moment the Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie Café is serving hot drinks and sweet biscuits only.

Many times recognised by several differing names, historians, students and visitors alike recognise it as: the Gilnockie Tower; Armstrong’s Tower; Hollows Tower; or Holehouse Tower.  Believed to be from the period circa 1490-1520 as a rubble built, with carved stone, Medieval Period Scots Tower House.

Should you wish to visit Gilnockie Tower to experience the 16th century, please phone and book a time so that we can arrange a safe and exciting experience for you?

Gilnockie Tower Phone Numbers

Phone:+44 13873 71373

Mobile: +44 7733 065587

Gilnockie Tower is currently adhering to existing Scottish Government guidance regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19), and invites its workforce, visitors and associates to please adhere to the ongoing, but constantly changing advice from the Scottish Government website.

These are unprecedented times, and our most important and primary concern is the safety of our workforce, visitors and associates. As time goes on we are reviewing ongoing developments on a day to day basis, and will adjust our method of operation, when it is safe and fitting to do so.

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Contact Information

Gilnockie Tower
DG14 0XD

013873 71373

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Opening Hours

Closed until 1st March 2022

Entrance to Gilnockie Tower remains controlled by Covid 19 restrictions, masks and the use of hand sanitiser are mandatory for the moment, please.


Adult Visitor £6.00

Concessions (Over 60 years of age) £5.00

Children (5 years to 16 years) £3.00.

Student (Over 16 years and on production of a student card) £3.00

Guided Tour Premium, your own guide to help you through the building explaining what the Gilnockie Tower was like in the 16th century and how it has been repaired over the last three years (per tour) £20.00

(Please book Guided Tours 24 hours in advance please by phoning 013873 71373 or Mobile 07733 065587)



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Gilnockie Tower
DG14 0XD


How do you get to Gilnockie Tower?
If you can, please phone us to advise when you are on route to visit us.
By Air to: Carlisle Lake District Airport (CAX) : www.carlisleairport.co.uk/ launched commercial flights for the first time in more than 25 years on July 4th 2019. Unfortunately, flights into Carlisle Airport have been temporarily suspended for the foreseeable future.
For information only: The Stobart Group own and operate the airport and have teamed-up with Scotland’s Airline, Loganair, to offer air links between the Anglo-Scottish Borders, Cumbria and the Lake District region to the South East of England (Southend), Northern Ireland (Belfast) and The Republic of Ireland (Dublin). Canonbie, Gilnockie Tower and Langholm are only a thirty-minute drive from Carlisle airport.
The airport, which once served as an RAF airfield, has been transformed thanks to a new and modern terminal, a new runway and taxiways, and its own Borderlands Café. The airport also offers free car parking and free mini bus connections with Carlisle Rail/Train Station. Flights are on sale via www.loganair.co.uk, including 20kg baggage allowance.
Also, by Air: Edinburgh (EDI), Glasgow (GLA) and Manchester (MAN) they are three airports that have direct Rail Links with the Historic City of Carlisle (https://www.discovercarlisle.co.uk/) and its city centre Rail Station.
By Road: Arriving from the North or the South at Junction 44 on the M6 motorway at Carlisle, Cumbria you will join the A7 from Carlisle to Edinburgh, and Gilnockie Tower is only 14 miles from Junction 44.
Joining the A7 scenic route from Edinburgh to Carlisle in the Edinburgh area, follow
the City Bypass, and then join the A7 at the Sheriffhall Roundabout, you have 60 miles to
travel to Gilnockie Tower, but you will pass through the lush green countryside deeply embedded into the dramatic history of the Scottish Borders.
If you are passing through the A75 corridor in South West Scotland, join the A7 at Longtown, turn left to drive north. The A7 Carlisle to Edinburgh Scenic Route passes through Scots Dyke, the English Scottish Border, then on to Gilnockie Tower. This route takes you through some of the darkest and extraordinary periods in the Anglo-Scottish Border Reiver life throughout the 14th to 16th centuries of Border historical development. 14 miles north of Carlisle, or 4 miles south of Langholm, follow the brown information signs, ‘Clan Armstrong Centre’, on the A7 Canonbie by-pass. These signs will direct you to Gilnockie Tower and the Clan Armstrong Centre. Look out for the Gilnockie Tower sign on the left and to the right is a bleak 500-year-old Scots Tower House; Gilnockie is located deep in the Esk Valley.
Via the X95 Bus/coach: The outstanding Borders Buses X95 service from both Carlisle (Scots Dyke) and Edinburgh stopping at the Gilnockie Tower and Clan Armstrong Centre Road end is reduced to a limited service, again for the foreseeable future. The Carlisle bus leaves from the stance outside the Carlisle Rail Station, and the Edinburgh bus leaves the City Centre Bus Terminus/Station, near to Waverley Rail Station. For up-to-date information and a bus timetable please check out:- www.bordersbuses.co.uk/services/X95.
Just let the bus driver know you want off at Gilnockie Tower/Clan Armstrong Centre, and the driver will do everything to help you. You pick up your return journey at the same stance, but on the other side of the road. Hold your hand out when the bus is in sight, and the driver will stop for you. The X95 team are excellent and very caring for the customers they have.

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