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the area / things to do

Winding below Rink Hill, The River Tweed is witnessed on a 97 mile journey that spans the entire Borders region, from Tweed’s Well in Peeblesshire all the way to the east coast, where it spills into the North Sea at Berwick-Upon-Tweed. Within easy reach of Rink Hill guests can hike amidst gorgeous hills, take on world-class mountain bike trails, check in to charming market towns and villages (home to bespoke shopping and delicious sustenance), or stride across quietly beautiful shorelines.

Eating Out

A holiday means turning your back on the cooker as often as you like. Here are just a few pointers for a great dining experience.

Provender, Melrose

A relatively new kid on the block, this is upmarket dining with contemporary Scottish, British and French twists, utilising lots of local produce. www.provendermelrose.com

Burts, Melrose

Housed in a listed 18th century building in the town’s market square, this warming hotel offers a bistro bar as well as its more formal restaurant menu. www.burtshotel.co.uk

The Townhouse, Melrose

The sister hotel to the aforementioned Burts, The Townhouse has a more contemporary ambience. Both its brasserie and restaurant menus draw on seasonal local produce. www.thetownhousemelrose.co.uk

Firebrick, Lauder

A little further afield, but worth the trip to experience this award-winning family-run restaurant combining the best of modern British cooking - seasonal ingredients, simply cooked - and patisserie. www.firebrickbrasserie.co.uk

The Fleece Bar & Kitchen, Selkirk

Just along the A7 within a restored town centre pub, there’s a bit of a dining revelation. This is memorable food, using the best of Borders’ produce and all at very affordable prices. www.thefleecebarandkitchen.co.uk

Coltman’s Delicatessen, Kitchen & Bar, Peebles

Coltman’s Kitchen, Deli & Bar, Peebles: Enjoying a prolific site on Peeble’s High Street, the emphasis in this cosy dining space (log fire in the colder months) is on local, seasonal produce, simply treated. Open for breakfast and lunch every day, and for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
www.coltmans.co.uk

Apples for Jam, Melrose

A small but perfectly formed wee spot for a delicious coffee or lunch on Melrose High Street.

The Greenhouse Cafe, Melrose

Greenhouse Café, Melrose

A smart contemporary café in Melrose serving breakfasts, brunches, lunches and afternoon bites. The outdoor terrace is a lovely spot for coffee and homemade cake on a sunny day.

www.greenhousecafemelrose.com

The Salmon Inn, Galashiels

The Salmon Inn: A cosy inn located on Galashiels’ Bank Street, offering reliably good homemade food and a friendly welcome.

www.salmoninn.co.uk

Coffee Hotspots

These local cafes have it all – a welcome and an ambience to match the great coffee.

Three Hills Coffee, Selkirk

Named for the three hills of The Eildons near Melrose, this lovely roastery and coffee shop also supplies its freshly roasted beans to other local businesses, and they are available to buy here too. www.threehillscoffee.com

Mainstreet Trading Company, St Boswells

This award winning book, deli and homeware shop, is also home to a gorgeous café with in-house baking, delicious soups, sandwiches and other light meals alongside freshly ground coffee from the Ouseburn Coffee Co.

www.mainstreetbooks.co.uk

No.1 Peebles Road, Innerleithen

It can be tricky to get a seat in this ‘special little place for coffee lovers and foodies’, eternally popular with the local biking community. Coffee by North Berwick’s Steampunk and baking lovingly created in-house are accompanied on the menu by great breakfast and lunch options.

www.no1peeblesroad.coffee

Bowhill Courtyard Café, Bowhill Estate

Complement all the culture and time in the fresh air with a hearty snack or light lunch in this lovely tearoom – the cakes and scones will fuel another hike around the beautiful grounds.

www.bowhillhouse.co.uk

Cocoa Black, Peebles

With UK World Chocolate Master, Ruth Hinks at the helm you know you’re in for a treat…indulgent hot chocolate, exquisite patisserie, beautiful handmade chocolates and superb coffee.
www.cocoablack.com

Peel Café, Glentress Forest

Deliciously informal and bursting with mountain bikers fresh from the hills.

Great Outdoors

Walks

The doorstep of Rink Hill is a good place to start. A little further up the hillside rests the site of a pre-historic settlement, a fort, almost circular in plan, from which The Rink takes its name. Protected by woodland and considered to date from the Iron Age, the fort is preserved as a site of archaeological interest. From this vantage point, tales of the past hang mysteriously in the air.

For a lengthier challenge try The Three Brethren, one of the area’s iconic peaks, visible from Rink Hill. Topped by three magnificent cairns demarking the meeting of three estates (Buccleuch, Yair and Selkirk Burgh), the hike follows forestry tracks/paths and open hills. Start directly from Rink Hill, or take the car a mile along the road to begin the ascent from Lindinny Wood, where parking is available.

What the Borders’ landscape lacks in dizzying height it makes up for in visual appeal, from a stride up The Eildon Hills at Melrose or a long distance hike on one of many official footpaths (The Southern Upland Way, St Cuthbert’s Way, Borders Abbeys Way and Berwickshire Coastal Path amongst them). Local visitor attractions such as Bowhill Estate, The Haining and Abbotsford House offer gentle ambles in glorious surrounds.

More detailed information on walking opportunities can be found here: www.walkscottishborders.com

Surf's Up

It may not be the first activity that springs to mind when planning a trip to the Borders, but beautiful Coldingham Bay is a great option. The St Vedas Surf Shop offers board hire and lessons as well as kayak hire. www.stvedas.co.uk

Fishing

In season Rink Hill can offer complimentary permits for trout fishing on the River Tweed. Salmon fishing can also be arranged with local beats. Fly Fishing is available at www.kailziefishery.co.uk

Go Ape

One for adventure-seekers, explore the forest canopy at Glentress via a treetop rope course, including the penultimate zip wire experience – 160ft high and 300 metres long. www.goape.co.uk

Canoes & Kayaks / Watersports

canoes / kayaks

Adopt a different perspective on the area’s beautiful landscapes with a canoe or kayak trip on the River Tweed. Journeys can be arranged for all levels of fitness and ability with Edinburgh-based Epic Ventures. www.epic-ventures.com

sailing

St Mary’s Loch Sailing Club in the Yarrow Valley offers watersports (no motorised boating), including yachting, windsurfing, kayaking and rowing. Temporary memberships for between 1 and 14 days are available. www.ettrickandyarrow.co.uk

On Your Bike

Quite simply, some of the best cycling in Scotland exists right here, with an abundance of superb routes including marked cycle paths and forest trails. The Selkirk cycle path can be accessed half a mile from Rink Hill, crossing the historic, recently restored Old Tweed Bridge. World-class mountain biking draws cyclists from far and wide to Glentress, Innerleithen and Newcastleton, all part of the award-winning 7stanes (seven mountain bike centres spanning the south of Scotland). The area has built a superb reputation for annual cycling events including Tour o’ the Borders and Transcend (previously known as Tweedlove).

More detailed information on cycling in the Scottish Borders can be found here:

www.cyclescottishborders.com

Out & About

Creativity lives in the bones of the Borders and shopping here reveals a myriad of talent. Allow us to place temptation in your way.

Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall, Galashiels

A gem of a shop stocking gifts and homeware with an emphasis on beautifully made local products, complemented by impeccably sourced UK design. www.winterspringsummerandfall.co.uk

Sinclair Duncan, Galashiels

Gorgeous cashmere scarves, stoles and throws designed and manufactured in local mills and shipped around the world. The company supplies local stockists, including Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall (see above) and Abbotsford House gift shop. www.sinclairduncan.com

Mainstreet Trading Company, St Boswells

Winner of Britain’s Best Small Shop, 2018, this independent bookshop makes for a great browse, replete with its own café as well as a delectable deli and homeware store in a converted barn behind. www.mainstreetbooks.co.uk

Henderson’s Garden & Home Store, Melrose


Meticulously selected gifts for the garden and home, as well as larger pieces of outdoor furniture and garden ornaments. Unique vintage finds are sourced from the UK and Europe. www.hendersonsofmelrose.co.uk

Fox & Plooms, Galashiels

Gorgeous leather bags and accessories designed and made in the Scottish Borders. From stunning kingfisher blue suedes to daffodil yellow leather and the ever popular ‘hairy coo’, here is temptation aplenty. Frequent shopping events are held at the company's new Galashiels studio. www.foxandplooms.co.uk

Findra Clothing, Innerleithen

Findra, Innerleithen

The home of innovative clothing, designed in Scotland for outdoor and active lifestyles.

www.findraclothing.com

Buy Design Gallery, Harestanes

An award winning gallery at Harestanes Visitor Centre, Ancrum, this showroom space houses the work of over 100 locally based artist makers. The common denominator amongst these pieces – in wood, glass, metal, ceramic, paper and textile – is the quality of workmanship. Many of the makers occupy studio space close to the gallery. www.buydesigngallery.com

The Hub, Innerleithen

The Hub, Innerleithen

A new addition to Innerleithen’s high street, this lovely shop sells locally made and sourced gifts alongside Scottish gins, some whiskies and a selection of craft beers.

www.thehubinnerleithen.com

Caddon Design

Caddon Design

Art glass, wall art, glass sculpture, engraving and special gifts.

www.caddondesign.com

The Next Chapter, St Boswells

Visit this lovely home and garden boutique for new and upcycled furniture as well as beautiful yet affordable accessories for your own abode. www.thenextchaptershop.co.uk

Wellness

Devoting time to yourself is these days considered not so much a luxury as a necessity. Here’s how to indulge mind and body during a stay at Rink Hill.

Yoga Frog

Locally based, Pollyana Calvados Leaver is a fully registered yoga teacher with an infectious passion for her practice. She embraces yoga, not simply as a form of exercise, but as a lifestyle. By prior arrangement, private sessions can be arranged at Rink Hill.

For more information visit www.yogafrog.co.uk Also visit www.theyogamill.co.uk for drop-in classes in nearby Galashiels.

JD Beauty

Julie Decoteau is a locally based, fully qualified mobile beauty therapist, offering a professional and friendly service. Her treatment list covers Swedish massage, facials, Expert Brows, CND Shellac (nails), Waxperts, manicures and make-up. Facebook.com/juliedecoteaubeauty

The Colourful Edit

Borders stylist, Lauren Jamieson brings colour to all aspects of her work, from the design of her instantly recognisable neckware accessories to personal styling. Check in to her Galashiels studio for a Colour, Shape & Style session, all you need for a wardrobe confidence boost. www.thecolourfuledit.com

Stobo Castle

This destination spa retreat, located in a Peeblesshire castle, offers the tantalising ‘ability to find peace in a frenetic world’. Highlights include a crystal steam room, one of the most advanced hydrospas of its kind, and a 25 m ozone pool with panoramic views of surrounding countryside. www.stobocastle.co.uk

Culture

Time a visit to coincide with one of the area’s many annual fixtures - from the world famous Common Ridings and Rugby Sevens tournaments to literary festivals and vintage car rallies - or simply tour the sights and sounds that bring the history of the Borders to colourful life, including prestigious local textile mills, as well as castles and stately homes brimming with tales of the past.

Literary Events

Literary giants including Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg drew their inspirations from Border landscapes. Tread in their footsteps, feed on the same untarnished views and hear the age old myths and legends which underpin the region’s literary past. Literature is celebrated magnificently in the area, not least at the annual Borders Book Festival, which has grown in both scale and stature every year since its inception in 2004. Hosted in and around the elegant Harmony House in Melrose, it is a four day extravaganza for all the family, and attracts a plethora of high profile guests from diverse backgrounds.

www.bordersbookfestival.org

Textiles

Rink Hill is around 3 miles south of Galashiels, one of the largest of the Border towns, residing in the valley of the Gala Water and built on a rich history of textiles. Tweeds, tartans and cashmere are intertwined with the fabric of Borders life, an industry dating back to the 13th century and celebrated today in the Textile Trail, a route featuring ten prestigious mills including Holland & Sherry in Peebles and Johnstons Cashmere, Hawick. For more information on mill tours and shopping visit www.ourscottishborders.com

The Great Tapestry of Scotland

The largest tapestry in the world, The Great Tapestry of Scotland features a series of 160 hand stitched panels, encapsulating 12,000 years of Scottish history in vivid colour and imagery. The Great Tapestry of Scotland will be permanently housed within a visitor centre currently under construction in Galashiels town centre, expected to be completed by Spring 2020.

www.liveborders.co.uk

Common Ridings

Common Ridings

Still a commercial centre for the region, Galashiels proudly celebrates its history at the annual Braw Lads Gathering in late June, part of a strong tradition of Common Ridings for which the Borders is world renowned. These equestrian festivals, held in eleven Border towns, mark a period of time in which forbearers of today’s residents defended their boundaries on horseback, fending off the ruthless marauders who plundered the lands on either side of the Anglo-Scots border from the 13th to 17th century. One of the oldest of these festivals takes place in the smaller town of Selkirk, an ancient Royal Burgh lying 3 miles south of Rink Hill. To witness hundreds of horses parading, and at times, charging through Border towns, is an unforgettable experience, as is the immense sense of community intertwined with these events.

Visit www.returntotheridings.co.uk

History

Four magnificent ruined Abbeys (Melrose, Dryburgh, Kelso and Jedburgh) reverberate with tales of the Borders religious past. Stately homes and castles are scattered amongst the hills and valleys, many of which offer fascinating guided visitor experiences, while others rest as atmospheric ruins in dramatic surrounds. Soak up some history here.

Abbotsford House

The extraordinary 200-year old stately home of iconic 19th century novelist, Sir Walter Scott, replete with gorgeous formal gardens, visitor centre and elegant café. www.scottsabbotsford.com

Bowhill House & Country Estate

The magnificent country home of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, home to part of the famous Buccleuch art collection and open for guided tours on selected days. Also available are way marked walks, field sports, fishing and friendly rangers happy to chat about the wildlife. There’s a great café and gift shop too. www.bowhillhouse.co.uk

Melrose Abbey

Scotland’s first Cistercian monastery, and burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart. It’s a romantic ruin, once considered to be one of Scotland’s most beautiful buildings. www.historicenvironment.scot

Traquair House

Scotland’s oldest inhabited house dates back to 1107 and has been lived in by the Stuart family since 1491. Traquair House has been visited by 27 Scottish Kings and Queens, including Mary Queen of Scots. Group tours are arranged by appointment, while the grounds, maze, craft workshops, café and world famous Traquair House Brewery also draw visitors from far and wide. www.traquair.co.uk

Floors Castle

Floors Castle

Built for the 1st Duke of Roxburghe in 1721 and still home to the family, Floors Castle, Kelso, brims with grand rooms which house an impressive array of fine art, porcelain and tapestries. Then there’s the beautiful Victorian walled kitchen garden as well as the more formal Millennium Garden and the lovely Terrace and Courtyard Cafes.

www.floorscastle.com