Live Local with Love, from Scotland’s Kate Hopper

by Scotland Starts Here, 20th October 2020
Kate from Love, from Scotland exploring the Pentland Hills
Live Local with Love, from Scotland’s Kate Hopper

In Live Local with… Midlothian and Scottish Borders locals share their favourite places, from restaurants and shops to walks, views and more. Except this week is slightly different. Read on. You may just find your next adventure.

Kate is the travel blogger behind Love from Scotland, an online guide which shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland, packed full of inspiration, itineraries, outdoor adventures and places to stay.

Whilst she was born in the rural hills of the Peak District, Kate has spent the last 24 years living in south Scotland and, being a country girl at heart, she feels right at home in the Scottish Borders. You will often find her wandering along the River Tweed or hiking sections of the Berwickshire Coastal Path.

Kate and her partner Barry recently visited the Borders and Midlothian to discover the best ways to explore the region – by bike, foot and even with an alpaca. We asked her to share her recommendations on things to do in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian.

Let us in on your secrets, Kate. What are some of your favourite things to do in the Borders and Midlothian?

As a travel blogger I am always being asked for my advice on Scotland’s hidden gems – and I always recommend the Scottish Borders and Midlothian. Scotland really does start here. The region has everything, hills, a stunning coastline and beautiful beaches, world class outdoor adventures and great pubs!

There is so much to do, but if I had to choose, then these would be my favourite things to do in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian.

Pentland Hills Regional Park (Flotterstone) is one of Kate’s favourites.

Hike the Pentland Hills

The Pentland Hills have long provided me with the outdoor refuge I need away from my laptop. Over the years I have explored every path within the Pentland Hills Regional Park, from the gorgeous Torduff Water Walk which takes in two pretty reservoirs, to taking on the challenge of the Pentlands Skyline, a 16 mile loop of 8 hills with 6200 ft of climbing – that is the height of two Munros!

However, if you want to get an idea of just how stunning the Pentland Hills are then hike my favourite walk – the Five Peaks of the Pentlands. This 8 mile walk takes you from the Flotterstone Inn over the highest peak, Scald Law, to the shapely Kips. Who needs to visit the Highlands of Scotland to get out into the mountains?

Mountain biking at Glentress offers stunning views of the Tweed Valley

Go mountain biking at the 7 Stanes

Three of Scotland’s world class mountain biking centres, the 7 Stanes, are in the Scottish Borders, providing miles of routes for beginners to experts.

My favourite, Glentress, is just an hour away from Edinburgh and offers skills tracks, a freeride park, the Upper Green Route with its fabulous views across Peebles, and all the red, blue and black routes serious bikers could want. Those in the know also love the Innerleithen XC – possibly Scotland’s best mountain biking route.

On our recent visit to Glentress we were taken out for a mountain bike skills lesson with local company Ridelines, to help us develop confidence out on the trails. We learnt how to stop properly, use our brakes and gears and just why you stand up to go down hill – giving us much more confidence and control of the bike. We were then let loose on the trails – exhilarating fun.

7stanes Glentress – Glentress

Widely regarded as one of the UK’s best mountain biking centres, Glentress 7stanes is a hugely popular destination which offers brilliant trails of all grades

7stanes Newcastleton – Newcastleton

Newcastleton is one of the 7stanes mountain bike trail centres offering routes for beginners and those seeking a more adventurous ride.

7stanes Innerleithen – Innerleithen

Innerleithen, one of the 7stanes mountain biking trail centres, is famous for its four downhill trails which is a must for any thrill seeker.

You can be sure to make new friends at Beirhope Farm

Trekking with Alpacas

Alpacas must be one of the world’s cutest animals – and did you know you can go hiking with them in the Scottish Borders? Beirhope Farm in the Cheviot Hills offers Alpaca trekking with views all the way to the Eildon Hills.

Beirhope Alpacas are friendly and calm animals – especially if you have a pocket full of carrots to tempt them along the way – and love a stroll up into the hills. Beirhope has 13 boys and 6 girls – who love attention and will even pose for the most epic selfie.

Your guide for your walk with an alpaca is Lynne who knows everything there is to know about this part of the Borders – from the Reivers history, to local hillforts and is a font of all knowledge on your new furry friends. Go hiking with an alpaca – you won’t regret it.

Beirhope Alpacas – Kelso

Beirhope Alpacas offers a unique outdoor experience, from alpaca trekking in the Cheviot Hills to off-grid eco camping in the most spectacular rural location

Ride an Eyemouth Rib to St Abbs

Love a bit of adrenaline? Then you will love a ride on a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) from Eyemouth. Run by Skipper Tim, Eyemouth RIB Trips scoot you up the Berwickshire coast to St Abbs and the National Volunteer Marine Reserve to see the coast in a whole new way.

Skipper Tim offers a variety of trips – from wildlife spotting on a coastal explorer – seabirds and seals are common spots on your journey, but you might be lucky enough to spot dolphins on your trip – to a fast blast RIB ride for a high speed adventure up the coastline! Hold on tight – a RIB trip from Eyemouth is great fun!

The views of St Abbs from the Nature Reserve are unmissable

Visit St Abbs and hike St Abbs Head

St Abbs Head is one of my favourite places to walk in Scotland. It has everything, from the dramatic cliffs at Pettico Wick Bay, where you can spot the folded rocks and 400 million-year-old pink & purple volcanic lava of the Pettico Wick fault to a Lighthouse perched out on the cliffs and the pretty Mire Loch.

St Abbs Head is also home to 50,000 seabirds including guillemots, razorbills, puffins, kittiwakes, fulmars, and rare butterflies. In winter grey seals pup in the coves, and baby seals can be seen on the beaches at St Abbs Head – make sure you don’t approach them and keep quiet as you pass!

After visiting St Abbs Head make sure you visit St Abbs for a crab butty at Ebbcarrs Café before a stroll down the coastal path to the beautiful sands of Coldingham Bay.

St Abb's Head National Nature Reserve – St Abbs

Breath-taking coastal headland with dramatic cliffs, famed for its seabird colonies!

St Abbs

St Abbs is a remote but beautiful fishing village on the southeastern coast of Scotland.

Coldingham Sands – Coldingham

The award-winning Coldingham beach

You can read Kate’s full blog on Things to do in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian and her ideas for suggested Scottish Borders itineraries on her blog. You can also follow Kate’s travels on her website and Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.