News

Traquair Fair goes State-side

 

Traquair Fair, one of Scotland’s best-loved family events, returns on 1-2 August with a spectacular Americana theme that sees a vast range of live music, street theatre, film, dance and workshops for all ages.

With the Americana theme running through the entire weekend, the Wineglass lawn at Traquair House will play host to some great Wild West cowboy antics from Martell’s Raiders, with whip-cracking, knife-throwing and other feats. Rather more tongue-in-cheek is the hilarious Calamity Jane who will present her own show, including lasso line dancing!

Elsewhere, all sorts of fun will be had with Elvis Presley, a full-on talent show, Michael Angelo (stilt-man extraordinaire) and various Wild West characters, complete with trusty steeds. 

Up in the courtyard, there will be traditional Appalachian clog dance, storytelling, plus performances of Kapow – a new high-octane show from the award-winning Two Faced Dance Company that sees Batman, Superman and Spiderman come to terms with modern-day life. It’s not easy, even for superheroes. And an Americana theme would not be complete without some professional cheerleaders from Elite Pro Dance.

And there are great tunes, too. The music stage will see a fantastic line-up of bands covering everything from bluegrass to country and soul. Highlights include New York-based Curtis Eller’s American Circus, and Brooks Williams, a singer-songwriter from Georgia. There will also be plenty of homegrown talent in the shape of Scotland’s Dean Owens & The Whisky Hearts; foot-stomping music from Glasgow-based rootsy band, The Chaplins; blues from the eight-piece Blueswater; Edinburgh-based soul kings, Rising Souls; and the Borders’ own country favourites, The Frequent Flyers with Kathy Stewart.

Meanwhile, children of all ages will be dazzled with top-quality entertainment, from theatre and puppet shows to circus workshops, swing boats, face painting and even a rodeo bull!

Out in front of the house there will be a display of classic American cars and motorbikes, while up in the house there will be showings of some classic American movies. 

In addition to all the entertainment, there will also be crafts, fantastic foods from around the world, local food producers and workshops, including felt making, stone carving, green wood working and, of course, how to lasso!

Further information

The Traquair Fair, 1-2 August. Camping available on site. For full programme details, and to buy tickets, visit www.traquairfair.co.uk

 

 

Summer courses from Ridelines

 

Summer is here and Visit Tweed Valley member Ridelines is back with a whole range of special events and skills courses, from riding for kids and beginners to honing racing skills and UKMBLA Level 2 Leadership Training. Here goes with the full line-up:

11/12 July – UKMBLA Level 2 Leadership Training

National Governing Body MTB leadership award delivered right here in the Tweed Valley.

Sat 18 July – Level 1 (Beginner) Skills Course

Aimed at those new to mountain biking, the focus is on the basic skills that a beginner needs to build solid foundations into their riding.

Sun, 19 July – Level 2 (Intermediate) Skills Course for Improvers

Designed for riders who want to improve their technique to achieve greater speed and improved confidence and control on all but the most challenging of trails.

21, 22, 23 July and again on 28, 29, 30 July – Summer kids courses

These sessions are designed to be progressive so during the block your young rider will get a whole suite of skills to enhance their riding, confidence and control.​ If you worry they can't keep up, want them to get some top quality riding skills, or want to teach your young rider how to keep it under control even when they're flying, then these courses are ideal. Huge fun all round for kids aged 7–14.

Sat, 25 July – Innerduro Core Skills

Former British Downhill Champion Jess Stone gets your riding mojo working overtime to find extra technical skill and boost confidence when riding testing Enduro trails. Ideal for riders exploring Enduro racing and for those who just want to build speed and confidence on more challenging trails.

Sat, 25 July – Women’s Workshops

Courses designed specifically for female riders and run by our female instructors. If you want to build confidence in the air or when the going gets tough on the ground (or both), the women’s workshops are ideal. The courses are run in an inclusive, supportive and testosterone-free environment!

Saturday 9 August – Jumpstart

Understand the techniques and skills needed to reduce your risks and give you the skills and confidence to get your wheels off the ground! If you have always fancied learning to jump and ride smoother on fast trails then this course will get you off to a great start.

Places on all courses are limited, so be sure to book early to secure the tuition of your choice. To book or for further details, contact Andy Weir at andy@ridelines.co.uk, or visit www.ridelines.co.uk

Photograph: Ridelines

 

Kingsmuir House scoops top tourism award

Malcolm and Karen Malarkey (centre) receive their award at the ceremony in London

 

Kingsmuir House, a boutique bed and breakfast in Peebles, has added to the roster of award-winning accommodation in the Tweed Valley by winning the prestigious title of AA Guest Accommodation of the Year for Scotland 2015/16. The accolade was announced at an awards ceremony in London on 12 May.

Situated on the south side of the River Tweed, close to Peebles town centre, Kingsmuir House has been transformed by owner Malcolm Malarkey (pictured centre with his wife, Karen) from a once neglected Victorian hotel into a stylish and thriving bed and breakfast. Accommodation is in the form of two large, luxurious suites, while guests are also treated to exquisite breakfasts, plus a regularly-changing dinner menu for days when the main local restaurants are closed.

Since opening Kingsmuir House three years ago, Malcolm has aimed to combine the warmth of a B&B with the comfort, style and luxury of an intimate hotel – a commitment that has not gone unnoticed.

“This is a real achievement and I’m so proud that the quality, attention to detail and customer service that we provide to guests from all over the world have been recognised in this way,” commented Malcolm. “It’s not just an overnight stay at Kingsmuir House – I believe it’s the whole experience that matters. I’ve worked hard over the last three years to raise the bar and make each stay a special, memorable occasion for our guests.”

Kingsmuir House is one of the most recent members of the Tweed Valley Tourist Consortium and Chair, Catherine Maxwell Stuart, offered her own hearty congratulations: “We’re delighted that one of our newest members has won this hugely prestigious award,” commented Catherine. “It’s a real testament to three years of extremely hard work and the commitment to outstanding customer service that underpins the quality that we aim to promote in the Tweed Valley. Many congratulations to all.”

Further info

Find out more about this award-winning B&B here

And don’t forget to check out the many other outstanding accommodation options in the Tweed Valley.

 

50 up at Traquair House Brewery

The special-edition Traquair 50 ale

 

Connoisseurs of craft ales have another reason to head to Traquair House this year, with the ancient on-site brewery celebrating 50 years of brewing with the launch of Traquair 50 – a limited edition ale (just 20,000 bottles) packaged in a specially-designed bottle.

The brewery has come a long way since 1965 when Peter Maxwell Stuart, the 20th Laird of Traquair, first made an extraordinary discovery in the eighteenth century wing of the house: a complete brew house and tun room had been left untouched for over a century, and used as the family junk store.

Having uncovered the original vessels and then cleaned and restored the equipment, he decided to try his hand at brewing. Together with his friend Sandy Hunter, then owner of Belhaven Brewery, the pair came up with a recipe for a traditional ‘wee heavy’, the orginal Traquair House Ale. The beer was first brewed in 1965 and is still available at Traquair today.

Fast forward a half-century and Traquair has built a world-wide reputation as an iconic Scottish ale with a unique heritage and rarity value. It was even voted 20th best brewery in the world by ratebeer.com, an American consumer website.

To celebrate this half-century of brewing, Peter’s daughter, Catherine, who now runs the brewery, has produced the Traquair 50. With an ABV 9%, it’s not a beer to be taken lightly, but is nonetheless a smooth, dark and well-balanced ale. 

“We’ve had a tradition of producing ‘specials’ down the years which have become real collector’s items and the Traquair 50 will be no exception,” commented Catherine. “The oak fermentation gives our ales a depth and complexity that gives the beers their unique character. With a guaranteed shelf life of 10 years, you can keep this bottle in your cellar for some time!”

The Traquair 50 is now available from Traquair House, which is open daily until the end of October, as well as from selected independent retailers.

Further info

As well as one-off specials, Traquair House Brewery produces three bottled ales: Traquair House Ale ABV 7.2%; Traquair Jacobite Ale ABV 8%; and Traquair Bear Ale ABV 5%. For much more info, visit www.traquair.co.uk/traquair-house-brewery

 

MTB courses for all

 

Visit Tweed Valley member Ridelines is offering a host of special events and skills courses over the coming weeks, from after-school riding for kids to UKMBLA Level 2 Leadership Training.

The packed programme begins on Fri, 24 April with the Friday Mud Club – after-school riding for kids aged 6-12 years. The club, which runs for three weeks, ties in nicely with the asymmetric school week. Great for kids and parents alike! Be quick though, places are limited.

Then, in May, Ridelines gets serious with a range of courses aimed at everyone from beginners to those looking to hone their racing skills. Here goes with the full line-up:

Sat, 9 May – Level 1 (Novice) Skills Course

Aimed at those new to mountain biking, the focus is on the basic skills that a beginner needs to build solid foundations into their riding.

Sun, 10 May – Level 2 (Intermediate) Skills Course for Improvers

Designed for riders who want to improve their technique to achieve greater speed and improved confidence and control on all but the most challenging of trails.

Sat, 16 May – Innerduro Core Skills

Former British Downhill Champion Jess Stone gets your riding mojo working overtime to find extra technical skill and boost confidence when riding testing ENDURO trails.

Sun, 17 May – Innerduro Race Ready Skills

Aimed at those getting their race faces on and who want to know how to shave seconds off timed stages and make the most of the transition window. Ideal for riders just starting to explore ENDURO racing or aiming for podium finishes alike.

16/17 May – UKMBLA Level 2 Leadership Training

National Governing Body MTB leadership award delivered right here in the Tweed Valley.

Ridelines is also involved in the fantastic TweedLove Bike Festival (16 May to 1 June) and is the brains behind Natural Tweed on Mon, 25 May. A big (and free!) ride into true Tweed Valley backcountry, it’s a great way to experience some of the area’s secret trails. Entries now open (hurry, limited places).

For further details, contact Andy Weir at andy@ridelines.co.uk, or visit www.ridelines.co.uk

Photograph: Ridelines

Jacobite theme at Traquair in 2015

 

Highlighting its deep Jacobite connections, Traquair House will this year commemorate the tri-centenary of the 1715 Jacobite Uprising with a programme of themed events, a concert and exhibition.

The Stuarts of Traquair and their close relations, the Nithsdales, were strong Jacobite supporters, and their involvement in the ’15 led to the Earl of Nithsdale being captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. His courageous wife engineered a daring escape, smuggling her husband out dressed in a servant’s cloak.

Opening on 1 June, an exhibition at Traquair House will bring together rarely-displayed documents and letters from the Traquair Archives telling the story of the Stuarts’ involvement in the rebellion and the Nithsdale escape, along with a collection of contemporary Jacobite jewellery.

Also on display will be a superb collection of Jacobite glass on loan from the Drambuie collection. These superbly-crafted 18th Century glasses and drinking vessels all contain cryptic symbols and messages that depict allegiance to the exiled Stuart kings.

Another highlight of the summer will be a concert in the house on Saturday 13 June which will include early music from the Stuart court played on the Traquair Harpsichord made by Andreas Ruckers in 1651. This will be the first time the instrument has been played in nearly 20 years following careful restoration.

And in August, as part of the Beyond Borders International Festival of Literature & Thought (22–23 August), prominent historians will debate the significance of the Jacobites and their place in Scotland’s history.

Throughout the year there will also be a Jacobite theme running across all Traquair events, including a Jacobite visitation to the Traquair Medieval Fayre (24–25 May) and a children’s Jacobite detective hunt in the grounds.

For more, visit www.traquair.co.uk

 

Headline sponsors for TweedLove EWS 2015

 

TweedLove has announced global bike brand Cannondale and Scottish-based bike retail chain Alpine Bikes as headline sponsors of the 2015 TweedLove Enduro World Series (EWS) race, to be held in the Tweed Valley on the final weekend of May (30-31 May).

Alpine Bikes is further involved as TweedLove Bike Festival sponsor and is providing mechanical support across all of the events – an invaluable service to all pro racers and recreational riders.

Cannondale, meanwhile, has become synonymous with Enduro since the sport's inception and will be looking forward to 2013 Enduro World Champion Jerome Clementz chasing the EWS crown in the UK as he was relegated to a spectator at last year’s event due to injury.

Cannondale will be in attendance with a full fleet of display and demo bikes at the EWS event including the chosen race weapon of Jerome and the Overmountain Team, the 2015 Cannondale Jekyll 27.5.

“It’s great for Cannondale to be the Official Bike Brand of EWS TweedLove in partnership with Alpine Bikes, our local retailer,” commented Clive Gosling from Cannondale. “The event was excellent last year, so stepping up our support is a great opportunity to showcase the new bikes.”

Meanwhile, Alpine Bikes has become a major UK retail brand, and has worked with TweedLove many times in the past, supporting what has become a strong and unique cycling community.

The TweedLove EWS event runs on the weekend of 30 and 31 May in Peebles. The event brings a festival atmosphere to the town, with thousands of riders and spectators arriving from all over the world. The TweedLove EWS expo area will be up and running on Tweed Green from Friday 29 May, where some of the world’s best bike brands will showcase their latest products. 

“We are extremely grateful to Cannondale and Alpine Bikes for coming together to support this event, which was the fastest selling round in the whole series, world-wide,” said TweedLove director Neil Dalgleish. “Our course is amazing, we are sure that riders are going to love it, and it is brilliant to be able to show the world’s top riders some of the best trails Scotland can offer.  

“Alpine Bikes is an integral part of the Tweed Valley bike scene, which of course is the inspiration for the TweedLove festival.  A massive thank you to all involved – it’s going to be one of the best and most exciting bike events on the planet this year!” 

For much more, visit www.tweedlove.com

 

 

British MTB Marathon Championships return to Selkirk

 

The 2015 British Mountain Bike Marathon Championships will again be staged over a challenging 75km single-lap course near Selkirk alongside the ever popular Selkirk MTB Marathon open event on Saturday 2 May.

“We’re really chuffed to have been asked to organise the British Championships alongside the Selkirk MTB Marathon again,” said Paul McGreal from Durty Events, which has staged the event since 2013.  

With a choice of three single-loop and fully marked courses (approx 25km, 50km and 75km) all setting off from Selkirk High Street, the Selkirk MTB Marathon is an epic ride through some of the best trails in the Borders, with something for families, novices, intermediates, enthusiasts and racing snakes alike. All three courses are filled with a mix of flowy natural and man-made singletrack, twin-track forest roads, ancient drove roads, lung- and thigh-busting climbs and grin-inducing descents. Riders will visit not just parts of the Tweed Valley, but also Yarrow and Ettrick – with stunning views guaranteed.

This year’s British MTB Marathon Championships will be run as a separate 'wave' start shortly before the 'sportive' events begin. It will be raced over the single-lap 75km course that also includes some of the downhill tracks at Innerleithen trail centre. It is open to male and female riders (19+) who are British citizens and hold a full British Cycling or UCI recognised racing licence. Coveted red, white and blue British Championships winner’s jerseys will be up for grabs in both male and female classes.

And on the evening of Friday 1 May, Durty Events will take over the centre of Selkirk with a free festival of two-wheeled mayhem for the whole family. Running from 7pm to 9pm, the Selkirk Bike Festival will be staged on the High Street with an action-packed programme including bike stunt displays, head to head Rolalpolluza style racing, bike film screenings, a pump track and mountain bike obstacle course.

To round off the weekend in style, the Selkirk MTB Marathon and the British MTB Marathon Championships will be followed by The Reivers Raid – the fourth round of the Scottish MTB Challenge Series (mtb orienteering) on Sunday 3 May.

For much more, visit www.selkirkmtbmarathon.com

Photograph: www.zupix.co.uk

 

Peebles Hydro shaping up

 

The planned rolling refurbishment at the historic Peebles Hydro, now part of the Crieff Hydro family of hotels, has begun in earnest following a three-week closure – with guests expected to notice some significant improvements already.

To date, the restaurant has been smartened up, there’s a new gym that bristles with high-tech equipment, while the once pot-hole riddled driveway has been resurfaced. Next up will be new furniture and fittings throughout other public areas, while the hotel team will also work its way through the bedrooms in a similar style. There is also a major focus on the hotel’s food and drink offering, with new menus being prepared for the summer.

Meanwhile, those who love playing outdoors will be able to experience a whole range of activities at Peebles Hydro, including the imminent launch of the Action Glen Activity Centre which will offer a variety of ‘back to nature’ themed activities.  

For much more, visit www.peebleshydro.co.uk

 

Visit the Lost Tomb of Robert the Bruce

 

The Abbotsford Trust will open a fascinating new exhibition this spring to celebrate the bicentenary of Walter Scott’s epic poem, The Lord of the Isles. The exhibition, entitled The Lost Tomb of Robert the Bruce, is the culmination of cutting-edge archaeological research conducted by various Scottish heritage bodies utilising original artefacts to produce the first ever three-dimensional digital model of the Bruce Tomb. It will be on display in the temporary exhibition room within Abbotsford House from 11 April until the end of November.

On his death in 1329, Robert the Bruce was buried in the choir of Dunfermline Abbey, with his grave marked by a white marble tomb imported from Paris. This monument was later destroyed, most probably during the Reformation era. During the early 19th Century what were believed to be his remains were discovered with fragments of carved and gilded marble from the vanished tomb. These relics subsequently found their way into museum collections in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dunfermline, while at least one fragment fell into the hands of one Sir Walter Scott and was discovered at Abbotsford. 

The history of the Abbotsford fragment is shrouded in mystery. However, Scott acquired the Entrance Hall panelling from Dunfermline Abbey in 1817-18, along with the cast of Robert the Bruce’s skull, so it is likely that the fragment arrived at Abbotsford around the same time. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to view all the known fragments in existence, including Scott’s fragment, mounted against a graphic backdrop to illustrate the overall effect.

“We are delighted to bring this fantastic exhibition to Abbotsford this year, giving both the local community and visitors to the Borders the chance to find out more about the final resting place of Scotland’s most famous king,” said Kirsty Archer-Thompson, Heritage & Engagement Manager for the Trust. “It is fitting that Sir Walter Scott, the man who ignited such passion for Scottish history, acquired a piece of this archaeological jigsaw puzzle.”

For more information, visit www.scottsabbotsford.com

 

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