Walking Nearby:  3 hills

If the weather is good we tend to spend most of our time outside and usually end up climbing a hill or going for a walk. I may be biased, but I think the rolling Borders landscape is one of the most stunning in the British Isles.  The undoubted highlight of the year is in June when the daylight lasts until 11pm, the sun just won’t set properly and mornings start at 3am.

But back to the walking.  Depending on company and how fit we feel, we walk straight out of the front door towards the abandoned shepherd’s cottage.  It’s a lovely low-impact walk with a little bit of a slope that lasts about an hour and a half.

An alternative is to drive a short distance through the long-since disused Stobs Army Camp (fascinating web site with lots of old photos) to another lovely hill along the road that Mary Queen of Scots took in 1566 to visit her lover James Hepburn, the Fourth Earl of Bothwell, who  lay wounded at Hermitage Castle after a local skirmish.  She rode there and back in one day over the wild and dangerous hills from Jedburgh , a distance of about 40 miles.

Exhausted when she returned, she lay in a fever for some weeks in a house in Jedburgh, now known as Mary, Queen of Scots House, until she recovered.

If you are looking for a slightly higher heart rate, the third and highest hill to visit in the neighbourhood is Ruberslaw at 424m.   It is about 20 minutes’ drive in the car and best approached from the south via Bonchester Bridge.  This is the hill where in the 17th Century the Covenanters used to secretly come together to hold  then illegal Presbyterian services at ‘Peden’s Pulpit’ (you can still see the stone “pulpit”).  By the way, Rubers Law is a disused volcano!  This walk takes about 2 hours.

further afield

If you are serious about walking there are loads of ways, routes, streets and walks to take as the Borders has several walking routes of varying distances.  In no particular order:

Paths around Hawick

Southern Upland Way

Dere Street

St Cuthberts Way

John Buchan Way

Berwickshire Coastal Path

A brilliant website that I found recently is http://walking.visitscotland.com/walks/, a comprehensive database of walking routes in Scotland Not only are their walks colour coded to fit your precise requirements, there are over one thousand walks to choose from.

Green – Moderate Walks – walks up to 5 miles/8 kms in length;
Blue – Longer Walks – walks over 5 miles/8 kms;
Black – Long Distance Walks – walks usually of more than 25 miles/40 kms;
Red – Hill & Mountain Walks – strenuous walks which involve prolonged ascent and descent.

guided walks

If it is a guided walk you are after try one of these:


Guided walks on a Saturday:


Walks based around Galashiels


For the person who likes to combine several forms of sustainable transport!

walking festivals

Every year the Scottish Borders holds a walking festival and this year the Festival is centred on Eyemouth and district. The festival runs from September 2-8 2012 and more information is available at  www.borderswalking.com

Fishing ‘n’ Shooting

Within 20 minutes of the Teviot, 30 minutes of the Upper Ettrick and 45 minutes of both the Border Esk and many of the most famous beats on the Tweed, Colislinn is perfectly positioned for some of the best salmon and seat trout fishing to be found anywhere.  Note, the salmon fishing closer to Colislinn is all late season, so if you’re looking to catch a ‘springer’ or anything before the Autumn you’d be best off heading further downstream towards Kelso.

The most useful source of information about fishing is Fishpal, http://www.fishpal.com/Scotland/. As well as giving details of historical and recent catches (updated daily in high season), fishing can also be booked through the website.

One of the most respected casting teachers around, Eoin Fairgreave (also a terrific guy with a great store of fishing anecdotes) runs a spey casting school in the grounds of the classy Roxburgh Hotel for beginners, or for more experienced fisherfolk looking to tighten up their spey loops http://www.eoinfairgrieve.co.uk/.  Eoin gets very booked up during peak season so if you’re looking for a lesson any time in the Autumn best to book ahead.

The Roxburgh also has a championship standard golf course and clay pigeon shooting – though for clays we tend to go to the excellent Braidwood, about 25 minutes away (beginners welcome, guns and tuition provided if needed, a huge range of traps to choose from, and a great way to entertain teenage lads for a few hours) http://www.braidwoodsc.co.uk/

There are many lochs in the area with brown and/or rainbow trout.  Most of the publicly accessible ones are run by the Hawick Angling Club.  Within 15 minutes of Colislinn are both Acreknowe and Barnes lochs. The latter is in a spectacular location up in the hills near the site of the old Stobs Army Camp – best not to drive too close unless you’re in a 4×4, and best not to bring dogs during lambing season.  Permits can usually be obtained either through the Club, which is located in the Sandbed area of Hawick (this side of town for Colislinn), or in Libby’s Pet Shop in the High Street, which also stocks a small range of fishing tackle.  Other contact details for the Hawick Angling Club: 01450 378907, or 07988 900602, or drewdickson@talktalk.net.  The Club also owns some association water on the Teviot.

Sadly, because of the acidity of the water and the huge spates, both caused by the Wauchope commercial forest that was planted several decades ago, the Slitrig Water (a tributary of the Teviot, itself the major tributary of the Tweed) that runs through Colislinn now holds very few fish.  We do see an occasional brownie and in late autumn some very tired salmon come up to spawn, which tend to shoal near the bridge.  We’d ask you, please, to leave both alone.  However a lot of fun – under adult supervision – can be had by youngsters with nets and jars collecting various forms of fry and bugs. And if they catch something bigger … we’ll have been pleased to have played a part in introducing them to one of the greatest sports in the world!

Finally, if you find yourself short of fishing tackle the best shops in the area to buy kit are in charming Kelso. The brilliant John Norris in Penrith, http://www.johnnorris.co.uk/, are also old hands at mailing stuff out speedily to anxious fishermen short of a rod tip or with a leak in their waders.

Historic Houses and Castles

Essential visiting locations

IT never ceases to amaze me how many grand houses, keeps, towers and castles are dotted around the Borders.  It must be something to do with the fertile soil.

Some of them are gorgeous, all pomp and circumstance; others are forbidding brutes built of rough stone;  ruins open to the elements.

Two spectacular castles in this latter category are Hermitage Castle near Newcastleton and to a lesser extent Neidpath Castle near Peebles  in that it has been modernised to the extent that it now boasts electricity.  It has some beautiful batik wall hangings made by an Italian artist whose name escapes me right now..

Of the gorgeous ones, Floors Castle near Kelso is a popular destination.  This high Victorian extravaganza with views over the Tweed has extensive gardens with tearoom and plant nursery.  Kelso is also a charming Borders town.  One of my favourites though is Abbotsford near Selkirk.  Home of Sir Walter Scott and until recently run by two very elderly ladies, direct descendants of his, It has now been turned into a trust and has all the amenities one would expect of a top-notch destination such as this.

Another one of our favourites is Mellerstain House near Gordon, an exquisite stately home designed by Robert Adam in the early 18thCentury.  Here too, all the mod cons that make for a wonderful day out, are provided.  Finally, Traquair House near Innerleithen, the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland, dating back to 1017.  Mary Queen of Scots stayed her with her infant son (later King James VI) and there is a spectacular four poster to prove it.  It contains everything you would find exciting in a house of that age, including a priest’s room.  And if that weren’t enough, they also run a wonderfully eccentric bi-annual fair there.  Next one will be Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th of August 2013.  Well worth the wait!

Here is a list of others we haven’t visited ourselves, but by all accounts are popular destinations:

Ferniehurst Castle near Jedburgh
Mary Queen Of Scots House in Jedburgh
Smailholm Tower near Kelso
Thirlestane Castle near Lauder
Paxton House near Berwick-upon-Tweed
Crighton Castle near Pathhead
Aikwood Tower near Selkirk
Bowhill House & Country Park near Selkirk
Old Gala House and Scott Gallery in Galashiels


local clubs and courses

The field immediately south of the house (please pick up balls and only if there is no stock)

Driving range near Selkirk

Clubs locally – Lillisleaf, Hawick (the Vertish), Minto, The Roxburgh


Road & Mountain biking

Think of the Scottish Borders and think of big spaces: heather-clad hills rising to over 2700 feet, hundreds of square miles of forests and woodland, lochs and rivers. Wherever trees and hills abound, mountain bikers and cyclists won‘t be far away.  With a population of just 100,000 and plenty of roads that carry very little traffic, you‘ll soon realise the Borders is a real paradise for cyclists.

There are plenty of casual off-road trails for beginners, although many bikers soon graduate to the more specialised sides of the sport. Cross country can involve big bumps and substantial climbs while the downhill sees bikers speed down steep and often exceedingly narrow slopes in full body armour and cushioned by serious suspension. The forests of the Scottish Borders provide some of the best mountain biking in the country.

There’s a whole variety of routes to choose from for all types and abilities, with its quiet roads the Scottish Borders has many developed waymarked cycle routes that can be explored in part, in a day, or a series of days.

Having recently hosted The Grand Depart for the 2011 Tour of Britain in Peebles, why not check out the official Tour of Britain website for all the latest news on the race and riders.

For more information and to search for cycling activities in the Scottish Borders click here or check out the links below and to the menu on the left.

Find more about the extensive mountain bikingand cycling routes across the Scottish Borders.

You can also find some great cycling routes in the Scottish Borders and in other parts of southern Scotland on the VisitScotland Active website.

Click here if you want to explore accommodation that’s specifically kitted out for cyclists.

Local Food and Market Towns

Local Food

Some of the best food in the UK comes from the Borders of Scotland.  You can see it for yourself, walking around in the fields right under your nose!  To get hold of it can require a little bit of extra effort, but all this locally produced food is so delicious and so much better for the environment that, once you’ve tasted it, you’ll not want to go back to the usual fare.

Farmers’ Markets

There are a number of farmers’ markets throughout the Borders where you might meet any of the local food producers listed below:Hawick Farmers Market – 3rd Friday of the month, 9.30 – 1.30, HawickJedburgh Farmers Market – 1st Friday of the month, 9.30 – 1.30, Market Place, JedburghKelso Farmers Market – 4th Saturday of the month, 9.30 – 1.30, Kelso Town SquarePeebles Farmers Market – 2nd Saturday of the month, 9.30 – 1.30, Peebles Eastgate Car parkBerwick Farmers Market – Last Sunday of the month, 10.00 – 1:30, The Maltings Art Centre, BerwickEdinburgh Farmers Market – Every Saturday, 9.00 – 2.00, Castle Terrace, EdinburghHaddington Farmers Market – Last Saturday of the month, 9.00 – 1.00, Court Street, HaddingtonWhy not place an order in advance of your holiday at Colislinn by contacting the local food producers?Most of the producers listed below have won all kinds of awards for their high quality food, but I have not tried all of them.  Those producers I regularly use myself I have marked with a ***.   It is also worth asking if they can deliver.

Meat, Some of it organic

DG HENRY & CO – Selkirk:  Beef, lamb and chicken
01750 23202                  dgiles.henry@btinternet.com
Giles supplies tasty free range eggs, organic beef and lamb and sometimes has free range chicken available for sale.HOARDWEEL FARM PARTNERSHIP – Duns: Beef, lamb and pork
01361 882844                elaine_stebbings@hotmail.com
The beef cattle and sheep at Hoardweel Farm are bred and reared organically and are Soil Association certified. All the meat produced is hung for a minimum of twenty three days for the best of flavours.PEELHAM FARM PRODUCE ***– Fouldon, Berwick-on-Tweed: Free-range rare-breed pork, lamb, mutton and field-raised veal
01890 781328                www.peelham.co.uk
Peelham produce organic free range rare-breed pork, field raised beef-veal, lamb and mutton, cured meats and sausages from their own on-farm organically certified butchery. Peelham were nominated as Countryfile Food Heroes in 2008 and have been awarded the Future Farmer of Scotland 2009. Excellent chorizo and saussison.WHITMUIR FARM *** – West Linton: Beef, lamb, pork, mutton & seasonal Kelly Bronze turkeys
01968 661908                peteritchie@onetel.netWINDSHIEL – Duns: Organic lamb, beef, pork & mutton
from the Lammermuir Hills
011361 883863               seb@windshiel.demon.co.ukALEMILL FARM – Eyemouth: Christmas Geese01890 771275                ianloganalemill@aol.com
Ian at Alemill Farm produces lovely geese for Christmas near the busy fishing port of Eyemouth.CROOKEDSHAWS FARMHOUSE PATES** – Yetholm: Pate
01573 420626                www.crookedshawsfarmhousepate.co.ukAward winning pates, terrines and relishes made with free-range chicken livers.HARDIESMILL ABERDEEN ANGUS*** – Kelso:  Aberdeen Angus beef, speciality pies, cured and smoked meats
01573 410797                www.hardiesmill.co.uk
Hardiesmill free range Pedigree Aberdeen Angus is a “farm-to-fork” enterprise providing quality home-made pies and succulent steaks.   They have helpfully produced a map of a cow to help you choose the cut that you’re after.  If you order enough they will deliver to Colislinn, but otherwise here are directions to get to them.LIDDESDALE SELECTION – Newcastleton: Free-range chickens, Shorthorn beef, lamb, pork & bacon
01387 376210                http://www.liddesdaleselection.co.uk  paulbell@scottishborders.co.ukKirndean Farm is near Newcastleton where Mary and Paul farm sheep, pigs and chickens.  They drive past Colislinn at least a couple of times a week, so a delivery from them would be simple.  Just call with your order.  The Liddesdale however is a beautiful area.  Hermitage Castle is that way and there is a very good pub in Newcastleton.  What’s not to like?
29 High Street, Hawick. TD9 9BW
01450 372109                Excellent local butcher, as are all the Hawick butchers!!
www.angus.co.uk/haggis  Lindsay Grieve’s haggis is prepared by hand to a family recipe. They only use traditional ingredients including Border mutton, wholesome oatmeal and their own special blend of seasonings.PLAYFAIR FARMS
Boxed free range beef, lamb and pork
Kelso. 01573 440364. playfair@tiscali.co.uk
Naturally reared beef, pork and lamb from our farm in the Cheviot Hills are all available in boxed form. Each box contains a variety of cuts and is butchered and prepared locally.Robert Pringle Family Butchers***- Hawick77 High Street, Hawick TD9 9BL01450 372 622               There are two brothers who each run a shop at opposite sides of the High Street.  Both great. Also haggis makers of repute.B-Q-B- Kelso: Boxed beef and ready made meals using beef
01573 223097                whitmuirhaugh@farmline.comKEZIE LTD – Duns: Ostrich meat and specialist products
01361 884006                www.keziefoods.co.ukGJ & JE PARKHOUSE – Melrose: Beef and lamb
01835 870335                satchellsfarm@aol.com REIVER COUNTRY FARM FOODS – Duns: Beef, lamb, pork & bacon
01361 883260                     www.reiver-foods.co.uk Philiphaugh Game – Selkirk:  Game, fresh and frozen
01750 21766


Fresh fish is not so easily sourced in the Borders unless you are on the coast.  There is however a fishmonger in Hawick, McCullochs*** 29 High Street, Hawick, 01450 373720.  If you are looking for something special, call in advance as choice can be limited.Teviot Smokery*** – Eckford, Kelso: Smoked Salmon, Water Gardens and other delights01835 850 253               http://www.teviotgamefaresmokery.co.uk/.  Situated on the banks of the Tweed, the Teviot Smokery started out decades ago as just that.  Still smoking its own products, various fish and chicken, it has since developed into a well-stocked deli with beautifully laid out riverside gardens attached to it.  As you come out of the deli you go straight into a garden nursery with really good plants.  I don’t think these guys deliver but there is a large restaurant. A useful destination if you’re not entirely sure how the weather will swing.

Fruit & Veg

These are a little harder to get hold of as it depends on the season.  Have not tried to get a veg box delivered just for a week at Colislinn, but I suppose it is worth asking!TWEED VALLEY ORGANICS – Greenlaw
01361 810503.               alison@tweedvalleyorganics.co.uk
Tweed Valley Organics grow and supply the best in fresh, local and organic food without using pesticides, herbicides and chemicals.  They deliver veg boxes, meat and other organic products throughout the eastern Borders and north Northumberland.WHITMUIR FARM*** – West Linton
01968 661908.               heather@whitmuirorganics.co.uk
Fresh fruit and veg, Pick Your Own when in season and frozen soft fruits.  Whitmuir has become a centre of local food.  Lovely restaurant, farm walks, bee hives, medicinal garden, etc, etc.   A lovely day out with all the familyBORDER BERRIE*** – Kelso 01835 823763.               www.borderberries.co.uk
Raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries, for wholesale or pick your own. As well as the Tutti Frutti Café we also provide toilet facilities and a picnic area. Great on a sunny day with the kids.CROOKHOUSE VEG – Kelso:
Nr 01573 440605.          at.fleming@virgin.net
Wide selection of PYO veg in the autumnTHISSELCOCKRIG – Duns01890 870370                johnbolton1@btconnect.comFreshVegetables and soft fruit in seasonWB & AG SWAN – Reston 07949 151633.               swanny4@hotmail.com

Organic and non-organic dairy

COOL AS . . . . . – Galashiels: Delicious farmhouse Ice cream and sorbets01896 860244                overlangshaw@btconnect.com
Luxury ice creams and sorbets produced from the farms own milk, cream and eggs. The delicious sorbets are flavoured with home grown and locally produced Borders fruit.GIACOPAZZI’S – Eyemouth :Gold medal winning ice cream and sorbets.018907 50317                info@giacopazzis.co.ukwww.giacopazzis.co.ukSTANDHILL FARMHOUSE CHEESES*** – Hawick: Cheese01835 870225                 jimannie@aol.com  website  http://www.standhillcheesery.co.uk/
There is not a huge amount of local cheese produced in the Borders.  The traditional methods involving slate shelves and unpasteurised milk have had to make way for wall to wall stainless steel and local cheesemakers, one of whom made the excellent Bonchester cheeses(manly for Harrods the Savoy Hotel in London), packed up.  No more buying cheese from an old fridge with an honesty box by the side of the road,.   Luckily we now have Standhill cheese.  Jim and Annie Shanks They make the prize-winninh Roondie, Borders Brie, Minto Mellow, Lilliesleaf and Fatlips Castle Blue and have a stall at Hawick, Kelso and Langholm weekly markets.  Their website does not give much away, but look out for their cheesemaking video on Youtube aimed at those who want to know everything about cheese! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDLJCmarXSESTICHILL JERSEYS*** – Kelso: Hard & soft cheeses, clotted cream, butter & pannacotta
01573 470263.  Wonderful butter.ORCHARD FARM DAIRY – Hawick: Full range of milk and cream produced from our own cows 01450 373726

Eggs, Organic and non-organic

BORDER EGGS – Berwick-upon-Tweed: Organic Free Range Eggs
01890 818286.               www.bordereggs.co.uk
Healthy, great tasting organic eggs produced by our small flock of hens who roam around a glorious grass field and are fed an organically produced cereals. They enjoy a happy, carefree life while being entertained with Radio 2 and football reports to boot . . .DG HENRY & CO – Selkirk: Organic eggs01750 23202.                 dgiles.henry@btinternet.comLIDDESDALE SELECTION – Newcastleton: Free Range Eggs
01387 376210                paulbell@scottishborders.co.ukCUMLEDGE ESTATE – Duns: Free-range eggs: duck, turkey, goose, guinea fowl & bantams
01361 884808.               cumledgeestate@tiscali.co.ukNIGEL ROBERTS – Kelso: Free range eggs
01573 226809                robrae31@hotmail.comWINDSHIEL
Organic eggs from the Lammermuir Hills, Duns. 011361 883863. seb@windshiel.demon.co.uk

Bakers & confectioners organic and non-organic

BORDER MERINGUES – Kelso: Organic Meringues01573 440787                www.border-meringues.co.uk
Border Meringues are so popular that Sharon makes one million meringues per year! Her meringues are sweet on the outside but are full of healthy ingredients including organic eggs and sugar. They are also fat-free and gluten-free.CLOOTIES*** – Peebles: Homemade traditional Scottish clootie dumplings01721 723945                ruth@clooties.co.uk  Website www.clooties.co.uk
Homemade traditional clootie dumplings, made to a recipe handed down through the generations but with a healthy twist. Instead of the suet we use cholesterol-friendly rapeseed oil. Where possible we use organic and/or fair-trade ingredients. Clooties are freshly made to order, and come in various sizes.STICHILL JERSEYS*** – Kelso: Quiches, lemon curd & Yorkshire curd tarts01573 470263
Stichill Jerseys are managed by a mother and daughter team who make top quality cheese, butter, cream, quiches, lemon curd, Yorkshire curd tarts and panacotta by traditional methods. Stichill Jerseys are the only makers of clotted cream in Scotland!MURIEL’S KITCHEN- Duns: Preserves and chutneys
01890 870370                 chutneylust@yahoo.co.uk Thisselcockrig Farm Shop

Drinks & wines – organic and non-organic

Single variety apple juice – straight and with other fruits
Duns. 07778 364415. laprigveg@yahoo.co.uk
TRAQUAIR HOUSE BREWERY*** – Innerleithern: Traditional Scottish Ales
01896 830323.               www.traquair.co.ukMade at Scotland’s oldest inhabited castle.  Traquair runs lots of events in the summer, not least wonderful outdoor Shakespeare. Check the website.

Culinary oils

BORDERFIELDS LTD*** – Coldstream Cold pressed rapeseed oil
01890 885010.               www.oleifera.co.uk
Many chefs, cooks and enthusiasts value it for its versatility in the kitchen.

Museums & Places of Interest

Museums & Places of Interest

Most of the museums in this part of the world tend to have been set up with a particular interest in mind and have good cafés attached to them; perfect if you have a rainy hour or so to spare and fancy eating something that you haven’t cooked yourself.

The Hawick Museum.

As the title suggests, it’s all about Hawick; it’s history, the development of the knitwear and cashmere industry and it’s military past.  I really enjoyed it when I went a couple of years ago.  It has recently been renovated to excellent reviews.

Must do a blog on Stobs, the large military training camp that existed in the fields beyond Colislinn with officers billeted here during WW2.

Eyemouth museum

This is a museum that I am really keen to visit this summer.  Apart from relating the history of this lovely former fishing village on the East Coast,  it houses the Eyemouth Tapestry, a 15 foot long embroidery that tells the story of the terrible fate that befell 189 east coast fishermen in 1881. (While I’m there I will need to try Giacopazzis ice cream and cakes which look eye-wateringly good)

Arts and Crafts

Period art to local artists

http://www.craftscotland.org/  Very  useful website for finding artists and craftsmen and -women in Scotland

http://www.lindeanmillglass.co.uk/  Beautiful modern blown glass.  Well worth a visit

Johnnie Armstrong Gallery
The Moffat Family
Henderson’s Knowe, Teviothead
T: 01450 850237
A family run business specialising in the design, manufacture and direct sale of high quality gold and silver jewellery in Scottish, Celtic and Viking design, displayed alongside historic Scottish artefacts.

Scottish Borders Art Glass
Peter Holmes
Unit 5 Galalaw
T: 01450 371425
Makers of glass paperweights, bowls and vases, the origins of which go back to 2000BC.

Wiltonburn Country Cashmeres Art Gallery
Sheila Shell
Wiltonburn Farm
T: 01450 372414
The Gallery stocks designer cashmere knitwear and other clothing, jewellery and country gifts.  The gallery features work by local artist Rose Hughes and prints by Sandy Milligan plus books and cards.  Please phone in advance.

Thomas Hawson Designer/Maker
Hundalee Mill Farm, Jedburgh
T: 01835 869931
Furniture and sculpture designed and made to order.  All enquiries welcome.  By appointment only.

The Art House
Art House Gallery, 35 The Square, Kelso
T: 01573 228666
The Art House Gallery offers an extensive range of local national and internationally acclaimed artists. From original paintings and sculptures to high quality, limited edition sculptures and prints.

Border Gallery
Sarah Blackwood
6 Bowmont Street, Kelso
T: 01573 226002
Regular exhibitions of paintings in oil, watercolours and mixed media; textiles, wallhangings, rugs and embroidered pictures; glass, jewellery, ceramics and sculpture.

Engineering in Wood
Adrian Locke
The Piano and Antique Workshop
Teviot Road, Roxburgh
T: 01573 450283
Engineering in Wood produce quality hardwood furniture, traditional wooden toys, wood-turned items such as bowls, lamps, carved bowls and sculptures to a high standard.  Specialist garden furniture and accessories are also manufactured.

John and Sarah Murrell
1 Roxburgh Street, Kelso
T: 01573 228063
Original watercolours inspired by the local landscape.  View the artist at work.  Also a changing range of locally produced gifts.

The Horseshoe Gallery
22 Horsemarket, Kelso
T: 01573 224542
An ever-changing selection of affordable 19th and 20th century oils, watercolours, limited edition signed artist’s proofs, etchings and prints is always on display.

The Kelso Pottery Studio and Shop
Ian and Liz Hurd
The Knowes, Kelso
T: 01573 224027
Ian and Elizabeth Hird produce a range of domestic stoneware pottery including mugs, jugs and piggy banks.  Ian specialises in unique pit-kiln fired pieces and Elizabeth ‘s work combines throwing and hand-building techniques to create animals, birds and figures.

The Common Ridings

Origins of the ridings

EVERY year, between June and August, Hawick and several other Borders towns celebrate their history and traditions from the dim and distant past with magnificent rideouts involving hundreds of horses, known as the Common Ridings.   The Common Ridings can be traced back to the 13th and 14th centuries when the border lands of Scotland were in constant upheaval during the long wars with England.   These skirmishes were not just against the English, but were also connected with the tribal custom of plunder and cattle thieving, known as reiving (the ancient word for robbing) that was commonplace amongst the major Borders families.  In such lawless times, townspeople would ride their boundaries, or ‘marches’, to protect their common lands and prevent encroachment by neighbouring landlords.  Long after they ceased to be essential, the ridings continue in commemoration of local legend, history and tradition.   Whether or not you are into horse riding we  highly recommend you attending one of these events and admire the participants.

These days the Common Ridings still adhere to the same series of ancient customs and pre-arranged communal activities laid down centuries ago, but now have a contemporary polish.  I strongly recommend you have a look at the various links in this section, and whether you visit JedburghSelkirk or Duns (there are 11 Common Ridings to choose from) you will be fascinated by these cavalcades that are almost entirely unknown outside the Scottish Borders.

Further Info

Community spirit is symbolised by the Burgh Flag or Standard, which in a colourful ceremony is ‘bussed’ where ribbons are tied to the staff by the principal lass, recalling the days when a knight’s lady attached her ribbon to his lance before battle. The principal men are elected annually and honoured with such titles as Standard Bearer (Selkirk), Cornet (Hawick), Callant (Jedburgh), Braw Lad (Galashiels), Reiver (Duns), Whipman (West Linton), Melrosian (Melrose), Coldstreamer (Coldstream) and Kelso Laddie. On horseback they lead their followers in the festivities. Old songs and tunes are played, banners waved and local pride expressed.

In some towns the festivities extend over anything up to two weeks, with a programme of ceremonies, rideouts, entertainment and traditional sports. In others, the action is focused over one or two days during the summer months.

THE Hawick Common-Riding is the first of the Border festivals and celebrates both the capture of an English Flag in 1514 by the youth of Hawick at a place called Hornshole and the ancient custom of riding the marches or boundaries of the common land.     Here are the dates for the Hawick  2012 rideouts.

And here is the rest:

Dates for common ridings and festivals 2012

3- 10th June – Hawick Common Riding                           Colour Bussin 7th June , Common Riding  Friday 8th June West Linton Whipman
10-15thJune Selkirk Common Riding                              Common Riding Friday15th
17-24th June Peebles Beltane                                             Festival Day Saturday 23rd
17-24th June Melrose Festival                                           Crowning Thursday 21st/ Day Saturday 23rd June
22-30th June Galashiels Braw Lads Gathering             Braw Lad’s Day Saturday 30th June
Jethart Callants Festival                                                         Festival day 13th July,
1-7th July Duns Summer Festival
15-21st July Kelso Civic Week                                             Colour Bussin Wednesday 18th July
29th July-4th August Lauder Common Riding            Common Riding Saturday 4th
6th-12th August Coldstream Civic Week                         Flodden Thurday 9th
8-16th June Yetholm Festival
7-14th July Eyemouth Herring Queen
27th July Langholm Common Riding
9th July Earlston Civic Week

22-28th July Musselburgh Festival                                    Sashing Wednesday 25th July / Day 28th

12-21st July Innerleithen St Ronans Game                     Cleakin Friday 20th July