ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A visitor's guide to Gretna Green UK

Updated on May 22, 2019

Gretna Green

The little village of Gretna Green in Dumfries and Galloway, is on the border of Scotland and England near the River Esk. It was famous for runaway weddings dating back to the 18th century.

Marriage Laws

In England in 1753, Lord Hardwicke's Marriage act came into force, which meant that both parties to a wedding had to be 21 years old or over before they could marry without the consent of their parents. In Scotland at this time, boys could marry at 14 years of age and girls at 12 years old with or without parental consent. Many young couples fled England into Scotland to marry in the first place they could, which happened to be Gretna Green. The local blacksmith would marry the couple in the Old Blacksmiths Shop and his anvil was used as a symbol of the wedding ceremony. The blacksmiths later became known as the "anvil priests."

Since 1929, the law was changed as it was felt that at 21 years old, the age limit was too high to be married with parents consent. Subsequently, the law was altered in both countries. Nowadays, in Scotland a couple can marry at age 16years of age without parental consent, but in Wales and England the couple can get married at 16, but must have parental consent of both parties and 18 years without consent of parents.

Gretna Green Visitor Centre

Gretna Green has become a huge and very popular tourist attraction, with over 5,000 weddings being conducted each year. One in six Scottish weddings are held here. The centre attracts around 700,000 visitors per year. There is a lot to see and do at Gretna Green.

The famous anvil.
The famous anvil.

Old Blacksmiths Shop

Take a look around this famous black and white house which has been used for centuries to marry eloping couples. It is open every day of the year with the exception of Christmas Day from 9am til 5pm (a little longer in the summer). They also offer full or part wedding packages starting from around £300. You can also arrange to renew your wedding vows here too.

The Old Blacksmith's shop at Gretna Green.
The Old Blacksmith's shop at Gretna Green.

Coach Museum

This is a fantastic exhibition which unravels the story and history of Gretna Green. Transport yourself back to the 18th century and discover what life was like as a young couple wanting to marry. You can see a collection of beautiful old horse drawn coaches that were used, keep an eye open for the actual coach used by Queen Victoria's aunt.

A 19th century coach on display in the museum.
A 19th century coach on display in the museum.


There are several shops in the Centre selling a wide selection of gifts, souvenirs, clothing, shortbread, tartan, household items, whisky and food/gift hampers. Boutiques offer some great fashion clothing and accessories for adults and children, ranging from suits and kilts to less formal t-shirts and hats. There is also a foodhall which has a wonderful stock of freshly baked bread, scones, and mouthwatering cakes and shortbread, tablet and toffee. Mmmm. Jams and preserves can also be purchased in beautifully presented glass jars.

Inside the foodhall.
Inside the foodhall.


Relax in the cafe after all your shopping and you can enjoy lunch or snacks with tea, coffee or a soft drink. Don't forget to try their melt in the mouth shortbread, or a warm scone with butter and jam.

Visitor Centre

Breathtaking scenery surrounds the Gretna Green Visitor Centre. There are sprawling fields grazed by highland cattle. Just before entering the centre, why not stop and have your photograph taken in the sculpture garden. You may even be lucky enough to see a real bride and groom having their wedding pics taken here. There are two childrens play areas for the little ones to explore near the car park, which has ample parking spaces and is free to visitors.

Highland cattle at Gretna Green.
Highland cattle at Gretna Green.
The sculpture gardens
The sculpture gardens

Staying at Gretna Green

At the heart of Gretna Green, there is a fantastic 4 star hotel which is warm and friendly, offering various sized rooms and fabulous food. It is informal and children are well catered for. Built in 2005, it has won awards every year since 2008.

About a mile away in the town of Gretna, there is a generous choice of guest houses, holiday cottages and bed and breakfast accommodation.

There is plenty to do in and around Gretna Green, and has become very popular as the obvious honeymoon destination. Birdwatchers have lots to see in this beautiful spot which is a haven for wildlife. In February, thousands of starlings take to the skies in their migration process. Cycling, walking and fishing are all very popular here. There is something for everyone, with lots to do in a town steeped in tradition, history and romance. See it for yourself.

Smiths Hotel - Gretna Green
Smiths Hotel - Gretna Green
The nearby River Esk
The nearby River Esk

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)