Top 10 things to do in the Borders
Idyllic countryside, rolling hills, spectacular coastline
and beautiful beaches all make for varied and interesting walking. The area is crossed by a multitude of
paths and three excellent long distance routes (St. Cuthbert’s Way, Borders Abbey
Way, Southern Upland Way). Every
year the Scottish Borders holds a walking festival.
Gentle hills, woodland, river tracks and low urbanisation
create the ideal place for both mountain biking and more leisurely pedalling
around. There is good
signage and many cycle routes (e.g. the 4 Abbeys, the Tweed Cycleway, the
Borderloop) and 7Stanes at Glentress/Tweed Valley for adventurous mountain
biking. And don’t miss the
Tweedlove Bike Festival which has two weeks of cycling for all levels,
including some serious international talent.
Eating & Drinking
With its beautiful rolling farmland producing meat and
vegetables of the highest quality and a spectacular coastline providing
delicious sea food, the Borders is a foodie’s paradise. It also has several micro-breweries
producing really tasty craft beers, its own whisky distillery and orchards
giving up delicious apple juice and cider.
See the Borders Food Network and Visit Northumberland websites
for suggested foodie trails.
Visiting some great
You will be spoiled for choice if you fancy wandering round
some of the country’s most spectacular stately homes: Abbotsford, Bowhill, Floors Castle, Manderston, Mellerstain,
Paxton, Thirlestane, Traquair. Check out the websites for each house as many host
great events, including fun things for kids to do. Bowhill has a great adventure playground.
Independent shops are king in the Borders and the area is
fortunate to have a vibrant history of textiles and cashmere.
Kelso, Melrose and Peebles are particularly enjoyable places
to spend a day wandering around the range of independent shops and having a
spot of lunch. There are
numerous lovely shops selling clothes, fishing tackle, homeware, locally made
art, pottery and jewellery, gifts and Borders artisan produce. If you like textiles and cashmere, it’s also worth taking a trip to Hawick and Selkirk for the Lochcarron Experience and Johnston’s
of Elgin mill, shop, visitor centre and cafe.
Arts & Crafts
We are fortunate to have so many talented artists and
craftspeople living, working and exhibiting in the Borders. Check out the Crossing Borders website
for profiles plus current exhibitions. For original artwork,
there are some fabulous galleries: the Breeze Gallery and Moy Mackay in Peebles, the Flat Cat Gallery in Lauder,
Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery outside Duns, Allanbank Arts
Centre in Duns, Smailholm Pottery, Tom Davidson in Earlston, Gallery Number
Four at St Abbs. Also regular open studios at Marchmont House.
If you fancy getting creative yourself while you’re here,
take a look at the courses on offer at Allanbank Arts and the Stonewall Gallery.
Go huntin’, shootin’
Various estates across the Borders provide shooting
packages. A good place to
start for information is to have a chat with the owners of Castle Gunmakers in
the lovely village of Norham (just across the border into Northumberland).
There is also very good quality clay shooting and
instruction at Bisley of Braidwood.
The Tweed offers world class fly fishing and is perhaps best
known as a salmon river, but it also contains good stocks of wild brown trout
and grayling. It is around 97 miles in length and is fed by several tributaries
which include the Lyne Water, Gala Water, River Ettrick, River Leader, Rivers
Teviot, Till and Whiteadder. Coldingham Loch also offers loch fishing for brown,
blue and rainbow trout from bank or boat. See the FishPal website for
river conditions, beats and also local guides.
Surfing, sailing &
The best surfing
in the Borders is at Pease Bay and Coldingham Bay. If you fancy (or need!) some instruction, try either:
If you’re new to sailing,
you can get instruction at any of the following:
The St Abbs & Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve is the
only one in Scotland and is reputed to be in the top 5 dive sites in the world.
For diving from Eyemouth and St Abbs, try one of the following:
The Borders has a championship golf course at the Roxburghe
estate and also some charming, smaller courses including “the Augusta of the
North” at the Hirsel, Coldstream.
Common Ridings: Why not try something you can’t do
anywhere else? The Border Common
Ridings are celebrations of the riding of the boundaries that have taken place
for centuries at towns throughout the Borders. Eleven towns participate, with riders on horses massing for
the traditional ride out. The festivals surrounding these ride outs are steeped
in tradition and celebrate Borders history, music and song, parades and
concerts culminating in the whole town celebrating the ‘Riding’. Authentic and truly local.
Borders Book Festival: Held every June in the beautiful
Harmony Gardens in Melrose. An
intimate and friendly festival of not just books but also comedy, music and
great food with lots for kids too.
Melrose Sevens: phenomenal rugby tournament in this
beautiful Borders setting. Big
lads playing here since 1883. Once
local now global.
Festival: annual International
Festival of Literature & Thought at Traquair house. This event brings together
internationally renowned broadcasters, writers, thinkers, artists, diplomats
and politicians to meet, talk and exchange ideas with the public about some of
the most interesting and pressing issues of our time. This stimulating weekend of debate also includes bike rides,
literary walks, art exhibitions and performances.
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