Tweed Valley Blog

  • Hope Scott Wing, Abbotsford
  • One of the bedrooms in the wing
  • Sitting room in the Hope Scott Wing
  • The sumptuous kitchen

 

It’s not often that you get a chance to experience the splendour that inspired one of Scotland’s greatest writers, but that’s exactly what’s on offer for lucky guests staying in a special wing of Sir Walter Scott’s fantastical Abbotsford House near Melrose.

Originally a family residence, the Hope Scott Wing was home to Scott’s descendents who lived there until 2004, having kept the historic rooms of the main house open to the public since a few months after Scott’s death in 1833. By all accounts, Scott’s great, great granddaughters, the last of the family to live in the wing, were colourful characters who brought a warmth to the wing that can still be felt today.

When the wing was refurbished in 2013, a host of original features were retained as well as family belongings including original artworks and furniture. Now designed to accommodate groups of up to... Read more

  • John Matthews, Chef/Joint patron, Windlestraw
  • Windlestraw views

 

John and Sylvia Matthews are now in their third season of running Windlestraw – a magnificent Edwardian manor in Walkerburn that they have already turned into something very special. We spoke with John to find out more about their experience so far

You came to Windlestraw from Dubai, which is quite a change. What appealed to you about taking on this wonderful old building?

I’d like to say it was the weather that appealed to us! But no, having lived in Scotland years ago, returning here felt natural. We fell in love with Windlestraw. It’s a beautiful building and being a Ballantyne house has historical significance to Walkerburn and the wider area. We saw the potential of combining a wonderful home with a unique hospitality experience.

Tell us about your past experience in the kitchen

I trained first in Dublin and later in London. It was back in... Read more

  • Iain Ronaldson, Go Ape
  • Out on the course

 

The Go Ape Peebles aerial adventure course at Glentress has proved hugely popular since opening a few years ago. We caught up with Site Manager Iain Ronaldson to find out more about life in the trees

So, what’s a typical day like for you?

Open up the cabin; prep paperwork for the day ahead; oversee opening of the course; oversee all health and safety for both customers and staff; see the staff get fed; and repeat!

Why do you think people love Go Ape so much?

It’s just not something people do in their everyday lives. Families & friends can play together equally.

Go Ape has a variety of courses around the country, but how would you describe the one at Glentress … any special characteristics?

We have the highest zip line in the company – it’s 150ft above the small reservoir below, with amazing views across the... Read more

  • Guy & Lesley on the terrace at Glede Knowe

 

Following a lengthy stint working in corporate jobs down south, Guy and Lesley Wotherspoon returned to Scotland last year to take over the running of Glede Knowe Guest House in beautiful Innerleithen. We caught up with them to find out just why living and working here has proved such a breath of fresh air

You’ve now spent a couple of seasons running Glede Knowe – how has it gone so far?

Our first two seasons have been great fun, and flown by. In the first year, we didn’t really know what to expect in terms of booking patterns, but we were pleased with what we achieved. In November last year, we redesigned the website to better showcase the house and the beauty of the Borders countryside and have seen an increase in bookings as a result.

What do you offer guests to make the Glede Knowe ‘experience’ really... Read more

  • One to one: Jess and Kelvin
  • The use of slo-mo video helps pinpoint areas for improvement
  • Colin practicing his take-off ...
  • ... and Kelvin perfecting his landing

 

When one of Scotland’s leading mountain bike tuition companies offered the chance to join other riders on a course to improve technique and boost confidence on jumps and drops, I couldn’t resist a shot. But, as we all discovered, first we had to unlearn a few things …

It’s not often that you have an opportunity to learn from an elite rider, but that’s exactly what is on offer as we gather at Glentress Forest for a ‘Jumpstart’ course run by Tweed Valley-based mountain bike tuition business Ridelines.

And as one of those rather less than elite riders who tend to just hang on and hope when it comes to jumps and drop-offs, I’m desperately in need of some pointers. I’ve always marveled at how better riders seem to ‘pop’ up as they hit jumps, a serene look on their faces as they trace a perfect arc through the... Read more

  • Bowhill House and Country Estate
  • Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott
  • Traquair House
  • Part of the walled garden at Kailzie Gardens

As befits an area with such a rich and varied history, the Tweed Valley is home to a variety of historic houses, often with outstanding grounds and gardens. Here are five houses and gardens that you really must visit this summer

Bowhill House and Country Estate

The Scottish Borders home of the Duke of Buccleuch displays an outstanding art collection, with works by Canaletto, Claude, Raeburn, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Ruysdael, while the wider, heavily-wooded estate offers a variety of peaceful walks for all ages and abilities. And if walking is not enough, visitors can always try the recently upgraded adventure playground, while the Bowhill ranger service also offers a series of fun activities for children and families. Look out too for the attractive Courtyard, which includes everything from a Victorian kitchen to a gift shop, tearoom and soft play for wee ones.  

Abbotsford House

Situated on... Read more

  • Windsor chairs
  • Elm desk
  • Crossover table

 

Visit Tweed Valley is delighted to welcome Colin Semple Furniture Design as its latest local business member. From a studio housed in the old school at Stobo near Peebles, Colin designs and makes an exquisite range of original furniture using locally-sourced Scottish hardwood. We caught up with him to find out more

What do you love most about what you do?

I love the journey from a rough idea that gets refined over time with the client, then designed in detail before selecting wood and making the finished piece. No matter how many times I do it, it is a real thrill to see the final article develop. I also love the variety. No two projects are ever the same.

Tell us about some of the recent items you’ve worked on

There's been a great selection of projects recently. In the last few months, I completed a large-scale kitchen... Read more

  • Osprey family at the nest, Tweed Valley

Ospreys have made quite the comeback in Scotland having been driven to the brink of extinction in the UK a century ago. And the Tweed Valley is one of the best places to view these incredible, fish-eating birds of prey

Like so many of our birds of prey, ospreys were once persecuted heavily by hunters and egg collectors to the point where the species was absent from Scotland for much of the first half of the 20th century. That all changed in 1954 when a pair settled under their own steam at Loch Garten in the Cairngorms. But it wasn’t until 1998 that the first nesting pair returned to the Borders – one of the osprey’s many old stomping grounds around Scotland.  

But with very real fears for their safety – be it from egg collectors or accidental human disturbance – they still needed a helping hand. As such,... Read more

  • Living room with fireplace
  • Quaker-style kitchen with views to the Cuddy
  • Bedroom at 22 Biggiesknowe

Visitors to the Tweed Valley have another characterful self-catering option to choose from following the loving restoration of 22 Biggiesknowe – a delightful cottage-style apartment that sits on a quiet street in the heart of Peebles

Built at the beginning of the 20th century, originally as a weaver's cottage, the apartment has been completely refurbished by owners Lynda and David Murray, and now comprises a light-filled main bedroom, lounge with dining table overlooking Eddleston Water (the Cuddy), a shower room and shaker-style kitchen (also overlooking the river). With wooden flooring throughout and a wealth of traditional features, it’s a quaint and stylish bolt-hole.

“We purchased the property in June 2014 and carried out extensive renovations including a new kitchen and shower room,” explains Lynda. “The property is best suited for couples but there is a small fold-down bed that would suit a child. A travel cot is also available if... Read more

  • Bella Hardy
  • Bella Hardy

 

The Tweed Valley hosts one of traditional music’s most prolific and inventive artists when Bella Hardy plays at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles on 26 March as part of a finale tour for her latest album, With The Dawn. We caught up with Bella to learn more about her music and what audiences can expect from the gig

For those unfamiliar with your music, how would you describe it … folk seems just one part of the picture

Music is such a hard thing to describe, especially your own! I write my own songs and try to encourage people to have a listen and come up with their own ideas. Since a teenager, I've been performing folk music, fiddling and singing, and that comes largely from my love of traditional ballads. I think that will always be present in my music. But everything else I've listened to seeps in too – Tom... Read more

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