People often think they have to head for the Highlands to get a taste of wild Scotland, but a trip to the Tweed Valley soon puts that straight. Here, there is wildness all around – from the great rivers, rolling hills, cleughs and forests that dominate the landscape to the fascinating wildlife that inhabits them, there is much to savour. Here are some suggestions for how to create your very own wild Tweed long weekend
Friday: For accommodation in keeping with the theme of your wild weekend, check in at self-catering Tantah Croft, a wonderful eco-build nestled in the hills just a mile south of Peebles town centre. Once settled in, stretch your legs with a stroll into nearby Cademuir Forest – one of the smallest of the Tweed Valley Forests, but with a fascinating cultural history (check out the Iron Age hill forts) not to mention an abundance of wildlife for those who keep their eyes and ears peeled. Try the easy Tantah’s Trail (1.4 miles) or the longer Pilots’ Trail (3.3 miles). Both are way-marked.
And if arriving on a Thursday, you can tie your trip in to include an illustrated talk by Scotland’s leading landscape photographer, Colin Prior (30 Oct). Join Colin as he reflects on his life as an outdoor photographer over the past three decades – exploring his Scottish work as well as journeying to some of the most remote parts of the world.
Saturday: This is prime salmon country and a visit to Peebles wouldn’t be the same without a walk along the River Tweed – one of Scotland’s finest salmon rivers. You'll soon see plenty of fishermen in and alongside the river as they take full advantage of the spectacular autumn run (contact Fish Wild if you’d like some expert guiding).
The varied terrain found on the Sware Circuit (3.5 miles) offers a perfect introduction to this atmospheric river, although the longer Tweed Walk out to Lyne (7 miles) is another belter. Depending on season look out for leaping salmon, heron standing motionless by the water’s edge, dipper bobbing up and down on rocks (and walking underwater), or the blue flash of a passing kingfisher. There’s also plenty of cultural history with Neidpath Castle, Old Manor Brig and Barns Tower all found along the route.
Sunday: After a hearty breakfast on the terrace at Tantah Croft, head to Kailzie Gardens, one of the key partners in the hugely successful Tweed Valley Osprey Project. While at Kailzie, it’s well worth taking a stroll around the beautiful gardens (both woodland and a formal walled garden – see winter family pass offer opposite top), while a bite to eat at the excellent Kailzie Restaurant is also highly recommended (again see Related Offers). The restaurant has begun Sunday afternoon storytelling for children, while look out too for a special Christmas market on 21 November, with gift and food stalls, children’s choir and all sorts of festive treats (free admission).
In the afternoon, it’s time for something a little different. Continue on the back road towards Innerleithen and make your way to Velvet Hall Alpacas where you can either just meet and learn more about these fabulous animals or go on a mini-trek with them (great for kids!). As well as being a lot of fun, the treks also provide fabulous views of the wider Tweed Valley.
Another option is to pay a visit to the John Muir Trust’s property at Glenlude near Innerleithen, which provides important habitat for black grouse and has become a centre for conservation volunteering in the Scottish Borders. You can get involved in drystone dyking, tree planting, habitat monitoring and many other conservation tasks – a wonderfully hands-on way of learning about the landscape all around.