Adventures in the Tweed Valley

by Sara Barton, 19th August 2022
Tweed Valley | Scottish Borders
Adventures in the Tweed Valley

The area around the River Tweed is well known for its mountain biking: the Enduro World Series and Tweedlove Bike Festival are major events in the calendar, while the Glentress Forest has just been named as host for two of next year’s UCI Cycling World Championship’s Mountain Bike competitions.

While biking enthusiasts can ride in the wheel tracks of their heroes, they can also experience what those heroes do in their ‘down’ time. But the Tweed valley is about more than bikes. There are some wonderfully undiscovered corners offering space to relax, unwind and explore in this beautiful part of the Scottish Borders. Read on to see where you could go for a weekend full of adventure…

Cycling for all

Don’t worry if your visit doesn’t coincide with one of the many biking festivals, there are still plenty of trails to be explored no matter how experienced you are. You could try the excellent family friendly bike trail that is a firm favourite with locals, the Tweed Valley Railway Path. You can pedal your way from Peebles to Innerleithen along the banks of the River Tweed. Or perhaps you’d like to be guided on one of the more challenging trails – there are multiple outlets providing mountain bike lessons and guiding as well as renting out bikes of all types.

There are trails for all levels and bike guiding and rentals so you can pedal your way around the Tweed Valley.

How do Bike Pros relax?

While two 7Stanes mountain biking courses within shouting distance of each other keep the bike pros busy while training and competing, even they have to have some downtime. For the low-down on what the local bike pros do, check out what winner of the Enduro World Series Tweed Valley 2020 Bex Baroana has to say. She recently moved to the region and was happy to show off her favourite places and activities in the area….

Bex Baroana takes you through her favourite places in her new home, the Tweed Valley.

The River Tweed

Whatever else you do while you’re here, make sure to spend some time on (or in) Scotland’s second longest river, the River Tweed itself! Take a dip at some of the best local river swim spots, or opt for an exploration with a paddleboard, kayak or canoe. This unique view of river life allows you the chance to do some fantastic wildlife spotting from dippers to herons, kingfishers to otters, there’s plenty waiting to be discovered. Come equipped, rent while you’re here or join the likes of Biggar Adventure for a guided trip along soon to launch canoe trails.

Whether you are sitting down or standing, paddling along the River Tweed is a great way to explore the valley. Photo: Ian Linton Photography

Explore estate grounds and gardens

There are plenty of manicured lawns and paths to traverse from the grounds at Cringletie (Hotel, Restaurant and Garden) and Traquair House to the glorious Dawyck Botanic Garden, which contains some lovely and surprising botanical examples. However it is an unexpected feature in the grounds of Barony Castle that may surprise visitors to the Tweed Valley. The Great Polish Map of Scotland is a giant, three-dimensional scale model of Scotland – believed to be the largest terrain relief model in the world – and was the brainchild of Polish war veteran Jan Tomasik. It has recently been restored to its former glory and will have you marvelling at the craftsmanship.

The Great Polish Map of Scotland in the grounds of Barony Castle Hotel near Eddleston, Tweed Valley.

Hidden Corners

The recently created Eddleston spur off the popular Tweed Valley Railway Path means visitors can venture to see the charming conservation village of Eddleston. You are spoilt for choice for somewhere to stay with Barony Castle, the Horseshoe Inn and Cringletie Hotel and Estate all nearby. And the village offers an excellent ecological lesson in Mother Nature knowing best. In earlier days, Eddleston Water, known locally as the Cuddy, had been straightened, leaving it prone to flooding. Recently a collaboration of local land owners has seen the introduction of meanders, extensive planting of native trees, creation of areas of wetland and engineered log jams. All help slow the flow of water and improve the ecological health of the river. 

Discover the charming conservation village of Eddlestone and see what wildlife you can spot in ‘The Cuddy’ as the local river is known.

Trails for exploring

There are superb views from the tops of the hills encircling the Tweed Valley so get out those walking shoes.  A five-mile climb could take you to the top of Cademuir Hill, complete with iron age hillfort remains and stunning panoramic views of the landscape below. Or perhaps you’d like to tackle the John Buchan Way, named for the author of The 39 Steps who lived in Peebles. This 13-mile route from Broughton to Peebles traverses rolling hills and valleys and makes an excellent day hike.

Another option for an afternoon ramble is the Dunslair Heights Circular by Shieldgreen and Glentress which passes by the Soonhope Burn and the Soonhope huts. These four dozen odd huts were provided at the end of the First World War by landowners for miners, industrial workers and ex-servicemen to breath fresh air and enjoy green spaces.

Pull on those hiking boots and head up to see spectacular views all around the Tweed Valley. Photo: Jacob Little

Relaxation time

As any adventurer will know, it is nice to relax and have more than a few creature comforts when you’ve spent the day out adventuring and luckily there are luxurious relaxations aplenty in the Tweed Valley. Expect spa treatments and beautiful pools at Barony Castle, Peebles Hydro and Macdonald Cardrona Hotel, Golf & Spa, while Stobo Castle is Scotland’s only destination spa resort.
And if your adventuring is brought to a standstill by the weather, never fear as there are plenty of indoor activities to try out. You can create your own bespoke tipple at the 1881 Gin School at Peebles Hydro. Or take a masterclass in chocolate making from UK World Chocolate Master Ruth Hinks at the renowned Cocoa Black Chocolate & Pastry School in Peebles. And who doesn’t like to meander down the lanes and check out some of the new galleries that have popped up in the past couple of years, including Solo Gallery, Innerleithen or Zenwalls Gallery, Peebles.

A masterclass in gin making awaits you at the 1881 Gin School, Peebles Hydro.