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, 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  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)

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  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,, 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.

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