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, 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


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, or visit

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


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



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



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


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


Dog day at Abbotsford


Sir Walter Scott may be best known for works such as Ivanhoe and Rob Roy, but his former home, Abbotsford near Melrose, today saw a celebration of the star of one of his other novels – the rare Dandie Dinmont Terrier.

Abbotsford played host to Dandie Dinmont Terrier enthusiasts from eight different countries, together with more than 50 of these diminutive dogs. The dogs and their owners joined Sir Walter Scott experts and VIP guests to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Guy Mannering, his second, hugely successful historical novel which introduced the breed to many people.

The book included the first mention of the character Dandie Dinmont, a local farmer who always appeared with his unique mustard and pepper terriers. The character and his dogs became overnight celebrities, with royalty, nobility and the rich and the famous flocking to the Borders in search of ‘Dandie Dinmont’s Terriers’.

Although the breed has existed since the 1700s, it became the first type of terrier to be given a specific breed name. The Dandie Dinmont Terrier also played it part in the foundation of several other breeds, including the Bedlington and Sealyham Terriers, and remains the only breed of dog to be named after a character from fiction. 

Sadly, the fortunes of this engaging breed have declined to the point that the UK only produces about 100 puppies a year – and with just 300 born annually world-wide. During the three days leading up to this unique bicentenary, international breed enthusiasts gathered in and around Selkirk to pay tribute to the origins of the breed, and draw attention to its current fight for survival.

During the three days, the group visited three historic houses that have all played an important role in the creation of the modern day Dandie Dinmont Terrier: Abbotsford, which opened its doors out of season to welcome the dogs; Bowhill, the seat of The Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch (the Duke is also patron of the Abbotsford Trust); and The Haining, Selkirk – a Palladian mansion now in the hands of a charitable trust where the father of the current day breed is recorded to have been born.  

The coming together of more than 50 Dandie Dinmont Terriers is believed to be the largest ever informal gathering of these little dogs in Scotland.


Bowhill House,

Photograph: Paul Keevil 


Winning start for film festival


Outdoor lovers of all ages flocked to the Eastgate Theatre from 13-15 February for the first ever Peebles Outdoor Film Festival. And judging by the audiences’ reaction to the array of shorts, feature-length films and outstanding speakers, it’s a festival that looks set to become an annual fixture.

Appropriately, the weekend opened with an updated cut of The Tweed Valley, a beautiful short film made using aerial footage by local filmmaker Jason Baxter. “When asked whether I’d like to show The Tweed Valley as the opening film of the first ever Peebles Outdoor Film Festival, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make!” commented Jason when introducing his film to the audience.

It set the tone for a real feast of top-quality outdoor films, including the Best of Kendal World Film Tour 2014/15 – with the likes of Danny MacAskill’s The Ridge, the remarkable Ghost Peloton and the delightful Horace and the Rough Stuff Fellowship showing on the big screen.

And there were feature films too, with riders eager to see Wadjda, an empowering tale of a young Saudi girl’s determination to ride her own bike in a country that frowns upon such things. Meanwhile, climbers raved about Valley Uprising – a fascinating glimpse at the extraordinary tribe of vagabond climbers attracted to test themselves on the featureless rock of El Capitan in the iconic Yosemite Valley since the 1950s. 

As well as films, the festival also saw a range of inspiring live presentations from top-class speakers. Downhill mountain biker turned pro stuntman Rob Jarman amazed with his tales of daring do and complete lack of regard for personal safety; fresh from his latest adventure, Borders GP and ultra-runner Dr Andrew Murray reported back on his recent 550km run across the Namib Desert; journalist and cycling author Richard Moore introduced and took questions about a showing of Slaying the Badger, a film based  on his book of the same name that charted a particularly epic Tour de France in 1986; and adventurer Al Humphreys provided his energetic take on why adventure is good, and how we can all create micro-adventures of our own.

The festival was rounded off by a thought-provoking and visually inspiring evening with National Geographic photographer and film-maker Lukasz Warzecha, whose Wild Women documentary series tells the story of some of the world’s most committed and charismatic female athletes – from wingsuit pilots to trail runners and paralympians.

All in all, it was a weekend to remember – with planning already underway for next year’s festival.

Further info

You can enjoy the most recent cut of Jason Baxter’s Tweed Valley film HERE

Photograph: Danny MacAskill, Cuillin Ridge, Isle of Skye


Peebles Outdoor Film Festival 2015


Adventurers, outdoor writers and film-makers will descend on Peebles from 13-15 February for the first ever Peebles Outdoor Film Festival at the Eastgate Theatre.

For two days and three nights, the Eastgate will be buzzing as lovers of outdoor adventures are invited to relive the experiences of Dr Andrew Murray, hot-foot from running across the desert in the Namib 550; Rob Jarman on his journey from pro downhill mountain bike racer to film stuntman; acclaimed cycling author Richard Moore on covering a particularly epic Tour de France; global adventurer Al Humphreys on creating mini-adventures on our doorsteps; and film-maker Lukasz Warzecha on capturing the lives of some extraordinary female athletes.

The film line-up includes the Best of Kendal World Film Tour 2014/15, plus a variety of, often, quirky shorts and feature-length presentations.

The festival opens on Friday 13 February at 6pm with a series of short films, including a bird’s eye view of the Tweed Valley by local film-maker Jason Baxter, an introduction to ski mountaineering Scottish-style, and wilderness running on An Teallach in the northwest Highlands. 

At 7.30pm, downhill mountain biker and stunt rider Rob Jarman will talk about his near fatal accident and introduce an excerpt from his gripping and emotional film All My Own Stunts. “Mountain biking is my identity and racing is in my blood … there’s no euphoria like getting down in one piece with a good time,” says Rob. “I’m always on the hunt for this feeling, and have tried many different sports. Getting hit by a car, or blown up on a film set is close enough, for now anyway.”

On Saturday at 2pm, Borders doctor Andrew Murray drops in having just run 50 kilometres a day across the hostile Namib Desert. As Andrew comments, “regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health. Every step is a step to health and happiness”. At 3.30pm, Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue will be on hand to talk about getting the best out of the Borders hills – and doing so safely.

Saturday evening is all about bikes. The ground-breaking feature film Wadjda, at 4pm, tells of a young Saudi girl’s dream to race her own bike. At 6pm, there are three extraordinary films, including The Ridge starring Danny MacAskill, while, at 7.30pm, award-winning cycling author Richard Moore will introduce Slaying the Badger, a film based on his own book covering the drama of the Tour de France in 1986 when American newcomer Greg LeMond took on the tough-as-teak French veteran Bernard ‘The Badger’ Hinault.  

“I do what I do trying to find out what really went on, what it was like to be Greg LeMond at the 1986 Tour de France, for example, then telling the story from that – hopefully inside – perspective,” reflects Richard.

Sunday begins at 2.30pm when global adventurer Al Humphreys takes time out from his own epic expeditions to highlight how we can all cook up plenty of micro-adventures closer to home. As Al says, “adventure is only a state of mind”.  

Just weeks after professional climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson made an extraordinary 19-day ascent of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall in  Yosemite, the film Valley Uprising (at 4pm) captures the history of climbers’ struggle against the laws of gravity, and the laws of the land in this iconic national park. Short films at 6pm then tell personal stories by very particular adventurers.

The festival culminates in a Celebration of Wild Women, at 7.30pm, when film-maker and adventure photographer Lukasz Warzecha introduces a selection of films covering some of the world’s most daring and committed female athletes – from climbers to trail runners and paralympians. “I love sharing stories and images … and although my style of photography sometimes can be seen as far from journalistic/reportage as possible, I’ve always tried to give my work a cause/purpose,” explains Lukasz. “In the Wild Women series, we wanted to create genuine films to inspire others, not only female athletes, but also showcase the personalities and abilities of our characters.”

Tickets and further information from the Eastgate Box Office on 01721 725777,

Click here for the full festival progrmme. 

Photograph: Lukasz Warzecha/LW Images


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