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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, www.bowhillhouse.co.uk

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, www.eastgatarts.com

Click here for the full festival progrmme. 

Photograph: Lukasz Warzecha/LW Images

Glentress top of the trails

 

The 7Stanes Glentress mountain bike trail centre was recently crowned UK Trail of the Year 2014 by iBikeRide in a vote decided by the UK’s riding public. Innerleithen, just down the road, was rated 9th in the UK. Glentress also won best trail in Scotland, with Innerleithen coming second. In total, Glentress won a total of three pole positions – UK Trail of the Year, Scottish Trail of the Year and UK XC Centre of the Year.

Not bad at all. And that's before we mention all the wonderful natural trails also found here in the Tweed Valley …

For more, click here

Photograph: 7Stanes CIC

Tontine Awarded 'Scottish Town Hotel, 2014'

The Tontine Hotel, Peebles

The Tontine Hotel, Peebles won the prestigous 'Scottish Town Hotel 2014' award at last nights 'Scottish Hotel Awards' Dinner at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh. The Awards, presented at a sell-out gala dinner in Edinburgh attended by over 500 hoteliers and their guests, are Scotland’s most comprehensive awards programme for the hotel and accommodation industry.

Landmark micro hydro power scheme reintroduced

A landmark hydro scheme that once illuminated a Scottish stately home when electric power was in its infancy is being brought back into service.

The pioneering Victorian scheme has been reinvented for the 21st century using the latest renewable technology and has helped a botanical garden near Peebles become the greenest in the UK.

It is the latest in a raft of eco-friendly innovations that have seen Dawyck, the Borders outpost of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), being crowned as the first ­carbon-neutral garden of its type in the country.

Read the full story here

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