After the success of last month's blog post on August activities that reflect the "new normal", I couldn't help but put together a list of must-sees and dos for guests for this Autumn which reflect the changing weather and the exciting fact more attractions are now safely open.
1. Have a dram at The Border's Distillery
Spend your time in the Scottish Borders wisely with Whisky!
Have a drink and find out how one of the country's prime exports is produced by touring the first Scotch Whisky distillery in the Scottish Borders since 1837. Running their incredible tours four times a day, five days a week The Border's Distillery has incredible social distancing and COVID measures as well as the most amazing produce.
Please note, tours are for four-six people only, must be from the same social bubble, and you must be pre-book (at least a day in advance), please call 01450 374 330 to book. While if you are unable to book a tour during your stay I'd still highly recommend you pop into their shop when in Hawick (it is opposite the lovely @the Riversedge Cafe and farm shop too) to grab a bottle of whisky, gin, or vodka for you to enjoy back at Westcote by your fire pit!
2. Explore Abbotsford
The historic house which was home to Sir Walter Scott has recently expanded its post-COVID opening hours due to popular demand. You can now explore Abbotsford's A listed house, the chapel, their exhibition/museum, gardens, and estate all nestled by the River Tweed from 10am-5pm seven days a week. The incredible 1400 acre estate not only affords you the opportunity to explore some beautiful buildings, but the chance to learn about one of Scotland's most prolific writers, immerse yourself in nature through the forestry trails, grab a bite to eat, and you can even bring along your furry friend (although dogs are limited to certain areas).
We recommend you visit their website to pre-book your tickets (prices are affordable and range with children under 5 being free and family packages available) due to COVID-19 and plan your visit as their so much to do!!
BONUS: If you are in the area around St Boswells and Melrose and want a free way to explore the beauty of the Tweed Valley and the heritage of Sir Walter Scott we thoroughly recommend a stop at Scott's View an incredible viewpoint accessible by car with panoramic views of the Eildon Hills which Sir Walter Scott was known to come to reflect.
3. Become friends with Alpacas at Beirhope Farm
Nestled in the Cheviot Hills close to the St Cuthbert's Way and the picturesque town of Kelso Beirhope Farm not only offers spectacular scenery but the opportunity to explore that in a memorable way: alpaca trekking. Whether you want to commit to a three-hour trek or just want to "meet-a-paca" Beirhope offers various packages and events designed to suit the various ages, fitness, and time constraints of their customers. They have excellent COVID measures in place and frequently find themselves fully booked so please visit their website or Instagram to book in advance if you are interested in making friends with these funny but calm creatures this Autumn (or further in the future, they are open all year)!
BONUS: Beirhope are awaiting the return of their beautiful alpaca yarn which is expected very soon, so if you visit in the next couple of months you will be able to pick up yourself some incredible and locally sourced knitwear with more blends and colours than they have created before. They also sell some very cute alpaca memorabilia, such as coasters.
4. Mooch around Melrose Abbey
The Borders is home to four incredible Abbeys (Melrose, Jedburgh, Dryburgh, and Kelso), and although our closest is Jedburgh Abbey I cannot help but recommend the magnificent Melrose Abbey and the small town itself. Founded in 1136 by King David I the ruined monastery has been repeatedly damaged due to Melrose's proximity to the English Border but still remains a display of incredible architecture and heritage.
BONUS: Other must-sees in and dos around Melrose include the aforementioned Abbotsford House, Trimontium Museum, Leaderfoot Viaduct, and hill walking in the Eildon Hills.
5. Watch the leaves change at Wilton Lodge Park
We may be biased but Wilton Lodge Park in Hawick (our closest town) is frequently referred to as the most (or one of the most) picturesque town parks in Scotland with its tree-lined walkways, the river Teviot's waterfalls, formal gardens, a glasshouse, fountains, aviary, walled gardens, and even its own fine art museum featuring local artists. As autumn brings the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the changing leaves and the chance to jump in puddles we recommend you do just that!
Inside the park there are multiple nature trails you can explore. However, if you have time we suggest you also complete route 13 on the Scottish Borders Council's Walk It Paths Around Hawick booklet which connects the park to The Violet Woods and more of the River Teviot.
6. Go Ape in Glentress
Less than an hour north of Westcote (and less than an hour south of Edinburgh) you will find the magnificent Glentress Forrest famed for its award-winning and expansive 50-mile network of mountain bike trails. If the opportunity to cycle some of the UK's best mountain biking routes doesn't persuade you to visit the area take an alternative path to see the beautiful scenery of Glentress and the Tweed Valley: a challenging 325-metre-long zip wire course across the 160 ft high valley. To find out more visit Go Ape Peebles's website.
BONUS: If you love nature but Go Ape isn't your thing or in your budget, we recommend Craik Forest to our west (see our last blog post) and Keilder Forest to the south!
7. Treat yourself to some textiles
Westcote is right in the middle of Scotland's Textile Trail with our closest town Hawick distinguished as the "Cashmere Capital" of Scotland and Jedburgh being renowned for its Tweed. So spend your stay browsing the various shops and factory outlets for your ideal winter wardrobe or early Christmas gifts.
BONUS: The Borders Textile Towerhouse in Hawick also makes the perfect rainy day activity and will reopen the week commencing Monday 28 September.
We hope this small selection of attractions in the Scottish Borders region has given you some inspiration for Autumn activities and they are as "magical", "breathtaking", and as much of a "bargain" as the activities, we suggested last month. Please visit our activities page, our Instagram (we have an activities highlight), or email us directly for more inspiration.
All the best,
Charlotte, Annette, and Drew
Ps. Please note, our 2020 season is ending as normal at the end of October, with the exception of the Showman's Hut which is available until the 8th November. While we are already taking bookings for next year and will reopen again in time for Easter weekend (1st April 2021).