FINDRA opens design hub in Innerleithen

Alex in front of the new FINDRA shop in Innerleithen


Already a major centre for mountain biking in Scotland, female cyclists have another reason to make a bee-line for Innerleithen following the opening in May of a first ever retail outlet by FINDRA, the women’s cycle and outdoor clothing brand, on the town’s High Street.

Since its inception in 2014, with support from Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Entrepreneurial Spark and Scottish Edge, the Scottish brand has gone from strength to strength. Founder, Alex Feechan, has combined her love of cycling with years of design experience working with a host of leading luxury brands to create a range of clothing that aims to encourage and empower women to look good, feel good and perform to the best of their abilities when out adventuring.

Housed in a lovingly refurbished old building on Innerleithen’s busy High Street, the retail space not only highlights the full range of FINDRA clothing but already also serves as a hub for women’s cycling in the area. With organised rides, talks and presentations to inspire and motivate not only women cyclists but the active community at large, the store aims to be a centre within the community that welcomes everyone.

One such talk, on Thursday 8 June, sees brand ambassador Marion Shoote talk about her bikepacking and other adventures in Tibet and beyond.  

FINDRA celebrated the opening of the new retail space last month with a weekend of activities, including a social ride, plus a run with another brand ambassador, Jenny Tough.

Further info

For much more on FINDRA and the vision of its founder, Alex Feechan, see this recent interview in The Scotsman.

FINDRA Design Hub, 83 High Street, Innerleithen, EH44 6HD, Scottish Borders,


Lunch with a twist

Spring at Cringletie House Hotel


A monthly lunch club with a difference has been launched at one of Scotland’s top hotels. Held at Cringletie House Hotel near Peebles, the special Cringletie lunch club offers its members the chance to learn something new, while eating eat well and socialising with friends old and new.

Guided by executive chef Willie Pike MBE, the food is original and full of flavour, while the monthly experiences are suitably eclectic, ranging from food and drink demos to drone flying, kilt making, encaustic painting workshops, and talks by local rangers.

“Making lunch more than just a meal is what it is all about,” explains Jeremy Osborne, General Manager. “Customers asked us for a platform to mix people and experiences and we’ve been delighted with the positive response so far.”

The new lunch club meets on the last Wednesday of the month (12-2pm). The next meeting, on 29 March, includes a cocktail (and mocktail) masterclass by Cringletie’s award-winning mixologist.

Set in 28 acres of rolling countryside just 40 minutes from Edinburgh, Cringletie House Hotel is renowned for providing luxurious experiences at affordable prices. For more information on the lunch club, click HERE


Outdoor Film Festival inspires all ages

Spot the climber ... Emily Harrington toughing it out in Role Reversal


With almost 30 films covering every imaginable adventure sport, outstanding speakers, a run and ride together with two inspirational athletes, and strong support from local businesses, the 2017 Peebles Outdoor Film Festival last month (27-29 Jan) proved a massive hit, with more than 1,100 people flocking to the Eastgate Theatre.

“We’re so pleased with the response to the festival, which continues to grow rapidly year on year,” said Rich Rowe, part of the organising team. “Our hope was for this year’s programme to really inspire and energise people – and that’s exactly what happened. With this being such an outdoors community, we saw great support from the local area, but were also delighted to attract people from all over Scotland.”

The tone was set in the opening presentation by mountain biking legend Crawford Carrick-Anderson – the first in a series of ‘local hero’ sessions at the festival. Crawfy’s life story is a remarkable one, and his presentation left a packed room truly inspired.

This year’s festival saw a change of format in its main auditorium programming, with each afternoon and evening session beginning with a selection of breathtaking short films from around the world, followed by live presentations from some major names. And with food supplied by Osso Restaurant during the interval of the evening sessions, audiences were well-fed as well as well-entertained.

There was a moment during the headline Saturday night presentation by renowned adventure cameraman Keith Partridge that seemed to sum up this year’s festival. As part of a tour de force presentation that ranged from the steaming rainforests of Venezuela to the intimidating North Face of the Eiger, Keith provided a gripping behind-the scenes account of life filming on award-winning climbing documentaries such as Touching the Void and The Beckoning Silence.

But it was his clip of hunters in Mongolia who train golden eagles to catch foxes and wolves – complete with a tiny camera mounted on the back of an eagle – that drew audible gasps from the audience.

That sense of ‘how did he do that?’ was also in evidence on Friday night when endurance adventurer Sean Conway gave an amusing account of completing the world’s longest triathlon – a sometimes chaotic 4,200-mile cycle, run and swim around the entire coast of mainland Britain.

On the Saturday and Sunday afternoons, runners and riders were treated to specially-themed sessions that saw an eclectic selection of short films, followed by live presentations by record-breaking fell runner Nicky Spinks, and World Champion mountain biker Tracy Moseley. These two stars of their sports also experienced some of the Tweed Valley for themselves when Swift Trails led a ride-out with Tracy, while Moorfoot Runners guided a run together with Nicky.

“Peebles is a delight – a really lovely town surrounded by very runnable hills,” commented Nicky, on her first visit here. “Thank you so much for inviting me to speak at the festival.”

As well as pulling in the big names, the festival also featured a range of local adventurers, all with compelling stories to tell. In addition to local hero Crawford Carrick-Anderson, the festival saw David Aston reveal all about his trek to the magnetic North Pole, while Ed Shoote spoke to another packed room about his bikepacking experiences around the world. Later presentations by charity marathon runner Bob Johnson – complete with life-size Dalek outfit – adventure racing supremo Paul McGreal, and Scottish winter climbing sensation Greg Boswell were all hugely entertaining.

The audience for Greg’s presentation had a particular treat, as Greg premiered a talk that he will take to this year’s Banff Mountain Film Festival – the most prestigious event of its kind in the world.

The festival ended in celebratory mood on the final night with a screening of the winner (Project Attack Squad by Lynne Armstrong and Lucy Grant) and runner-up (Our adventure by Chris and Thomas Hilton) of this year’s Outdoor Shorts film competition as part of the final short film session.

It was then left to Edinburgh-based bikepacker Markus Stitz to round off the weekend with a wonderful tale of his recent 21,000-mile ride around the world on a singlespeed bike – the seeds of which were sown when he first started bikepacking right here in the Tweed Valley.

The Peebles Outdoor Film Festival would like to thank this year’s sponsors – John Muir Trust, Macdonald Cardrona Hotel, Tontine Hotel, Out & About, Swift Trails, Peebles Physiotherapy and Ridelines – without whose generous support the event could not happen. 

Image: Spot the climber ... Emily Harrington toughing it out in Role Reversal


Life through an adventurous lens


Just what is it like to film hanging above a kilometre-high sheer drop? It’s one of the many questions that adventure and extreme location cameraman Keith Partridge had time to reflect on recently when he returned to film above Venezuela’s Angel Falls – the highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world.

“You sometimes think you'll never go back to a place that holds such strong memories and if you do that it'll never be as good as the first time,” said Keith. “However, the Angel Falls and the Tepuis of Venezuela always have the ability to impress. I had to pinch myself every time I looked down the 20+ second free-fall drop.”

And audiences at this year’s Peebles Outdoor Film Festival (27-29 Jan) at the Eastgate Theatre will have a chance to hear more about this and many more of Keith’s adventures when one of the world’s most respected adventure cameramen makes a headline appearance on Sat 28 Jan.

A veteran of more than 60 expeditions around the globe, and one of the world’s most famous practitioners of what remains a rare trade, Keith is very much the go-to-guy for filming in the planet’s more hostile locations. He has pushed deep into unexplored caves in Papua New Guinea, reached the highest point on earth, hunted with golden eagles in Mongolia, not to mention abseiled the Angel Falls in search of the perfect shot.

Productions in which Keith has been a key player have notched dozens of international film awards – including the documentary feature film of Joe Simpson’s Touching the Void – two BAFTAs and an International Emmy. Keith is renowned in the industry for a multi-skilled background that has enabled him to develop shooting techniques that take viewers to the very steepest of rock faces, the most challenging of ice cliffs, and brutally-remote locations.

In a training capacity, Keith is also a regular at the Banff Mountain Festival – the most prestigious festival of its kind in the world – where he runs workshops for budding adventure filmmakers. There’s certainly no better way to learn than from a man whose work has graced a host of programmes for the BBC, Discovery, National Geographic and many others.

Also an award-winning author, with his 2015 book The Adventure Game gaining many plaudits, an evening with Keith Partridge offers a unique opportunity to hear what it takes to film at the ends of the earth.

Keith Partridge headlines the Adventures from the Edge session at the Peebles Outdoor Film Festival on Sat 28 January, starts 6.30pm with a programme of short films. Copies of the full festival programme are available from Eastgate Theatre Box Office, or online at Tickets available, 01725 725777, or online.

Full festival programme,



Dazzling line up for 2017 Peebles Outdoor Film Festival


Special appearances by mountain biking World Champion Tracy Moseley, ultra-triathlete Sean Conway, record-breaking fell runner Nicky Spinks, and Emmy-award-winning adventure cameraman Keith Partridge will be among the many highlights when the third annual Peebles Outdoor Film Festival returns to the Tweed Valley on the weekend of 27-29 January.

The 2017 festival, held at the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles, sees a dazzling line-up of speakers and adventure films scheduled across five specially-themed sessions covering everything from ice diving, mountain biking and surfing to climbing, bikepacking and slack-lining.

In a slight change of format, the programming sees each afternoon and evening session in the main auditorium begin with a selection of breathtaking short films from around the world followed by live presentations from some seriously big names in their sports.

Given the love of all things two-wheeled in the Tweed Valley, an appearance by the much-admired Tracy Moseley (Sat 28 Jan) is exciting news for mountain bikers of all ages. Having recently retired from enduro competition as one of the most successful female riders of all time, Tracy will reflect on her riding career, how the sport has changed during that time, and what she plans to do next.

And for the dozen lucky riders who managed to get tickets, there is also an opportunity to enjoy a ride-out with Tracy earlier in the day, led by local guiding company Swift Trails.

Biking will also be a theme when adventurer and ultra-triathlete Sean Conway takes to the stage for a headline presentation on the opening Friday night (27 Jan). Sean recently completed a self-supported, 4,000+ mile continuous ultra-triathlon circumnavigating the entire coast of mainland Britain – a herculean effort that was the subject of a series on Discovery Channel. Sean will share tales and footage from his latest epic challenge, and explain why he has such a thirst for adventure.

Audiences can expect more inspiration – and probably some perspiration – on Saturday night (28 Jan) when renowned adventure and extreme location cameraman Keith Partridge reveals what it takes to film in some of the world’s most unforgiving locations. Keith’s many expeditions around the globe have seen him push deep into unexplored caves, reach the highest point on earth, hunt with golden eagles in Mongolia, and abseil Venezuela’s Angel Falls.

The big names keep on coming on Sunday (29 Jan) with an appearance by fell running legend, farmer and cancer survivor Nicky Spinks. Having already held records for the toughest UK fell running challenges, this true star of her sport topped them all last year when she became the fastest person to run a Double Bob Graham Round. The 49-year-old marked 10 years post-cancer-diagnosis by running the 132-mile Lake District route, which included around 54,000ft of ascent, in a time of 45 hours and 30 minutes.

Nicky will talk about her remarkable ultra-running story and show Run Forever, a new film about her ‘Double Bob’. Earlier in the day, there’s also an opportunity to join Nicky on an off-road run, led by Moorfoot Runners.

The headline acts are rounded off on Sunday evening by Edinburgh-based bikepacking devotee Markus Stitz, who recently returned from a year-long ride around the world on a singlespeed bike. Markus will talk about his extraordinary bikepacking life and his development of the Capital Trail – an overnight bikepacking adventure from Edinburgh to the Borders and back.

As well as big names from further afield, the festival also features appearances by a host of local heroes – all inspiring figures who can’t wait to share their stories. Between them, Crawford Carrick-Anderson (mountain biking), David Aston (polar exploration), Ed Shoote (bikepacking), Bob Johnson (marathon running), Paul McGreal (adventure racing) and Greg Boswell (climbing) will entertain audiences with tales of adventures from both near and far.

“Last year’s festival was a huge success, but we feel the 2017 programme has stepped up another level again,” said Rich Rowe, a member of the organising team. “As well as an exceptional line up of speakers, we also have a ‘best of the best’ programme of short films that between them have scooped awards at some of the world’s most prestigious adventure film festivals.”

This year’s event is supported by a range of local businesses, including the Eastgate’s award-winning neighbour Osso, which will supply delicious food during the intervals of each evening session. Wild land charity John Muir Trust, which has a property at Glenlude near Traquair, is the overall festival sponsor, while individual sessions are sponsored by Macdonald Cardrona Hotel, Golf & Spa, Tontine Hotel, Out & About, Swift Trails, Peebles Physiotherapy and Ridelines.

The Peebles Outdoor Film Festival runs from 27–29 January at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles. Copies of the festival programme are available from Box Office, or can be viewed online at

Tickets available now on 01725 725777, or online.

Full festival programme,




Cringletie scoops luxury hotel award

Cringletie House Hotel


Cringletie House Hotel, near Peebles, has been awarded the prestigious Luxury Boutique Hotel of the Year 2017 Europe by the Luxury Travel Guide – an accolade that should help spread the name of the hotel far and wide.

The Luxury Travel Awards recognise and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the affluent travel and tourism industry in different regions of the world. The Hotel Awards specifically identify the best accommodation options with a selection criteria focussed on innovation and design, rooms and facilities, gastronomic achievements, service excellence, use of technology, sustainable development, and location. The awards also recognise a hotel’s connection with its guests. 

With the Luxury Travel Guide having a major sponsorship deal with United Airlines, Cringletie will now see its details made available in airport lounges worldwide, as well as on cruise ships, a further 10,000 hotels, and through a variety of holiday specialists and tour providers.

“This is a wonderful honour,” commented Jeremy Osborne, Manager, Cringletie House Hotel. “Cringletie is renowned for its affordable luxury in all aspects; superb food and service, along with fabulous rooms and most of all its friendly and efficient hospitality. This is truly spectacular recognition.”

For more information, visit

The Nutcracker at the Eastgate Theatre


With its magical festive setting, there can be few ballets that put audiences more in the mood for Christmas than The Nutcracker. And that will certainly be the case when The Royal Opera Ballet’s exquisite production of this all-time favourite classical ballet is screened live at the Eastgate Theatre on Thursday 8 December.

This much-loved production by Peter Wright tells a story familiar to many: when the young Clara creeps downstairs on Christmas Eve to play with her favourite present – a Nutcracker – the mysterious magician Drosselmeyer is waiting to sweep her off on a magical adventure.

Having defeated the Mouse King, the Nutcracker and Clara travel through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets, where the Sugar Plum Fairy treats them to a beautiful display of dances. Once back home, Clara thinks she must have been dreaming … but perhaps not?

Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker score was commissioned by the director of the Russian Imperial Theatres following the resounding success of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890. First performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, The Nutcracker was initially poorly received, but its combination of delightful choreography and unforgettable music has since made it one of the best loved of all ballets.

In Peter Wright’s classic production for The Royal Ballet, the stage sparkles with theatrical magic – a Christmas tree grows before the audience’s eyes, toy soldiers come to life, while Clara and the Nutcracker are whisked away to the Kingdom of Sweets on a golden sleigh.

Tchaikovsky’s score also contains some of ballet’s best-known melodies, from the flurrying Waltz of the Snowflakes to the dream-like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – all brilliantly set in Wright’s choreography. And with Julia Trevelyan Oman’s designs drawing upon 19th-century images of Christmas, this magical production is tailor-made for the festive season.

Further info

The Royal Opera Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker will screen live at the Eastgate Theatre on Thursday 8 December, 7.15pm. Tickets available now from Box Office on 01721 725777 or online, £17, £10 schoolchildren.


Abbotsford welcomes all on St Andrew's Day


As a way of highlighting Sir Walter Scott’s home as an accessible and intriguing destination amidst some of the most beautiful countryside in Scotland, Abbotsford welcomes all to its annual free family day this St Andrew’s Day (Mon 28 Nov).

Simply turn up and have fun and give the family a memorable day out with lots of drop in activities, fabulous food, free ice cream, a magician, a shield-making activity, birds of prey and family tours to delight and inspire this St Andrew’s Day holiday.

The day is being held as a thank you to the local and wider community for the on-going support and patronage of Sir Walter Scott’s home and legacy.

Abbotsford has run these free community days for the past four years with the aim of encouraging future visits, and also to celebrate the end of the season before the house closes for the season.

The free family fun day will take place from 10-4pm on Mon 28 November. 



Halloween high jinks at Traquair

There are opportunities galore to get into the spirit of Halloween at Traquair House this year with the chance to join spooky, night-time Jacobite Ghost Tours, plus a day of Halloween fun and games for all ages.

The special Jacobite Ghost Tours (Fri 28 & Sat 29 Oct, 7pm & 9pm) promise to bring history alive, with characters from Traquair’s past retelling tales of extraordinary bravery as they supported the Jacobite cause at enormous personal cost.

Visitors are warned to be on their guard for the odd unexpected surprise and even descending into the dungeons of the Tower of London before relaxing in the comfort of the 18th century dining room with a Jacobite toast to the ‘King o’er the water’.

Then, on Sunday 30 October, it’s the turn of the annual Halloween Fun Day – a firm favourite for families with children of all ages. This year’s fun day features magic shows, creepy crawly animal handling sessions, the famous spooky passage experience, Tarot readings, ghost stories, a witches and wizards workshop, scavenger hunts, spooky face painting and, of course, traditional Halloween games.

This year also sees not only a Dressed to Kill fancy dress competition, but also Halloween Hounds – a chance for dogs to put on their best Halloween costumes.

Throughout the weekend, the 1745 Cottage Restaurant will serve Halloween suppers on the nights of the ghost tours as well as delicious lunches and teas every day until the end of October.

Further info

Ghost tour prices (Fri 28 & Sat 29 Oct, 7pm & 9pm), £12.00, children £8.00. Tours suitable for 8yrs and over. Combined tour and supper ticket £24.50. Tickets should be booked in advance as numbers limited.

Halloween Fun Day (Sun 30 Oct, 11-4pm), £8.50, children/concessions £4.50, family ticket £22.00. Tickets on the gate only for this event. For more, visit

Look out too for spectacularly spooky goings on at nearby Bowhill Estate and Abbotsford House this coming weekend.



Two Sarahs bring stunning exhibition to Dawyck

Light in the Garden, Sarah Knox


Dawyck Botanic Garden, one of the Scottish Borders' leading visitor attractions, was the inspiration for a new exhibition of work by two enterprising teachers. The exhibition, entitled Light in the Garden, features a variety of stunning works by Edinburgh-based artists Sarah Knox and Sarah Robinson. The exhibition runs in The Studio at Dawyck until 30 November (admission free).

Light in the Garden is the first joint exhibition by the two women. Sarah Knox teaches art at St. George’s School for Girls in Edinburgh, while Sarah Robinson is a former teacher at St George's and now teaches Modern Studies at Edinburgh’s George Watson’s College.

“We both love the Garden at Dawyck and have visited with our families over many years,” explained Sarah Knox. “The opportunity to work in the arboretum, talk to the gardening team and sketch on location, soaking in the atmosphere was irresistible. Our works are a creative response to viewing the world through the garden. This collaboration is a reflection of this enchanting place.’’ 

Reflecting how the artists immersed themselves making studies of the paths, vistas, hidden corners and trees, the pair have produced complementary artworks for the exhibition. Sarah Knox works in multi-layered oils and mixed media, and she has also displayed a series of finely-drawn and harmonious botanical prints. In contrast, Sarah Robinson has made hand-finished monoprints, lino cuts and acrylic paintings of trees in a heightened palette.

“The artists have made a wonderful visual representation of the changing light and landscapes through the seasons,” added Graham Stuart, Garden Curator. “Their interpretation in vivid colours brings the garden to life.”

Further info

Light in the Garden is on display at the Studio, Dawyck until 30 November. Dawyck Botanic Garden is part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The garden is open to the public daily from 1 February to 30 November. 

Image: Light in the Garden, Sarah Knox



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