THE TWEED VALLEY
Its river is world renowned for spectacular salmon fishing but the Tweed Valley itself offers a natural environment that’s ideally suited to a wide range of activities, with Glentress Forest a wonderful outdoor hub. The Glentress Peel Visitors Centre – just a mile and a half from the hotel - is a great starting point, with a bike hire shop, café and bike trail centre close by.
If you’re a mountain-biker, this is territory that dreams are made of, with 73km of some of the country’s best natural trails on your doorstep, including an award-winning 7Stanes trail centre at Glentress and its 7Stanes sister centre just down the road at Innerleithen. With colour coding in place and many trails suitable for beginners and families, (‘green` identifies flat, wide trails for the less experienced rider), plus a skills centre where you can go and practice your technique, there’ll never be a better time or place to get in the saddle.
Glentress Forest is the gateway to the Tweed Valley Forest Park which boasts a network of trails more extensive than any other forest park. It’s a haven for walkers, especially families, with five lovely waymarked walks to choose from. This terrain is also ideal for horse riding and it’s a popular activity within the forest. Alternatively, head into Cardrona forest on foot or on horseback and enjoy a relaxed pace through an area that’s full of birdlife and a natural habitat for red squirrels. The ruin of 15th century Cardrona Tower and the site of the Iron Age fort at Castle Knowe make interesting stopping points.
Outside the gentle forest trails, committed walkers might like to try the Southern Upland Way, with the 17.5 mile Traquair to Melrose leg easily accessible for those who are up for the challenge. There are also some excellent walks through the Border country around Peebles.
Road cycling enthusiasts are also well served – after all, the Tour of Britain regularly passes through the Scottish Borders and the local town of Peebles had the honour of hosting the Grand Depart in 2013. Start with a selection of routes which begin in Peebles, just 20 minutes by bike.
If you’re not walking to Melrose from Traquair, you can cycle the 20-odd miles to Melrose from the hotel within a couple of hours, along the handily placed National Cycle Route 1. You’ll be hugging the River Tweed all the way and your end destination has to be the stunning 15th century ruin, Melrose Abbey, which is also the final resting place of Scottish king Robert the Bruce’s heart! Check out the impressive and extensive remains from the grounds, then visit the old abbot’s house, now a museum that displays a fascinating collection of medieval artefacts from the original cloister.
Alternatively Traquair is less than 10 minutes’ drive from the hotel, if you fancy visiting Scotland’s oldest inhabited house. Traquair House dates back to 1107 and has been lived in by the Stuart family since 1491, when James Stuart became the 1st Laird of Traquair. Originally a royal hunting lodge, Mary Queen of Scots is just one of 27 kings and queens hosted by the Stuarts over the years and as part of a tour of the house, you can step into the original tower to see the bed where she slept.
Once you’ve had a good look at the 19 rooms open to the public, head outside to the fabulous maze, which children will love, then onto the brewery, which is based in one of the wings. The Traquair House Brewery was set up in the early 1700’s, fell into disuse and was eventually forgotten until Peter Maxwell Stuart rediscovered it in the 1960’s and began brewing again, using all the original equipment including the original, 200-year-old oak casks.
For a dramatic perspective of the Tweed Valley’s magnificent scenery, you’ll enjoy sensational views when you harness up and set off on one of Go Ape’s thrilling treetop activity courses. The Adventure courses are designed to introduce younger children to the excitement of climbing, balancing and swinging while the Treetop Challenge offers adrenalin-fuelled, canopy high tree-to-tree crossings, Tarzan swings and the longest zipline in Scotland - an incredible 1,070 feet!
Tweed Valley Osprey Project
The Tweed Valley Osprey Project aims to protect nesting ospreys and encourage them to settle and breed in suitable locations in the area. If you are visiting during breeding season (May to September) before they head south for the winter, there are two viewing centres, one in Glentress, the other in Kailzie, where you can watch a live camera feed of all the action.
Velvet Hall Alpacas
For a more intimate animal encounter, why not take a walk with an alpaca in the gorgeous Tweed countryside? Velvet Hall Alpacas will match you up with a friendly alpaca companion and take you on an hour-long guided trek, where enjoying the beautiful scenery will take on a whole new meaning when experienced alongside your furry walking mate. If you’d simply like to visit the 30-strong alpaca herd, that can be arranged too, and they live just 5 minutes away from the hotel by car. Check out the Velvet Hall website for trek and visit times and booking information.
Many will visit the area simply because the River Tweed’s top-notch, year-round fishing makes the Tweed Valley a fishing enthusiast’s Shangri-la.
The Tweed – Scotland’s second longest river - is best known for its famous run of salmon, but it also offers excellent fishing for brown trout, sea trout and grayling, and a scenic backdrop to complete the sense of perfection attained. You couldn’t be better placed, with our hotel’s fishing rights giving you access to a beautiful stretch of river.