Updated: Mar 11, 2021
Coronavirus and associated legislation has changed how we all approach leisure. There is now an increased need for social distancing, some places are still closed, and masks are compulsory if you want to go shopping (and ideally used whenever close to others who are not members of your household). With people limited to the four walls of their homes for months, we have also seen an increased appreciation for exploring nature and taking part in outdoor sports.
Therefore, here at Westcote we thought upcoming guests, potential guests, and locals would appreciate a list of a few activities they can do this August that reflect the "new normal".
1. Have a picnic by St Mary's Loch
Forty-five-minute drive west of Westcote is St Mary's Loch the largest natural loch in the Scottish Borders region. Nestled in the Etterick Forest and near the Borders town of Selkirk, St Mary's Loch makes the perfect place to have a secluded picnic and go for a walk through the Etterick and Yarrow valleys.
If you wish to add a bit of history to this nature-filled attraction visit St Mary's Kirkyard, a historic location where William Wallace was named Guardian of Scotland in 1298.
Other recommended picnic spots include Wilton Lodge, Leaderfoot Viaduct, or our glen!
2. Go on a Trimontium Guided Walk
Throughout August every Tuesday and Thursday the Trimontium Trust is offering guided walks through the Trimontium Roman Fort site; exploring Roman and local Borders history. Starting at 1:30 pm in the Abbey House garden in Melrose (30 minutes north of Westcote) the three and a half hour/5 miles walk from Melrose passing the Leaderfoot Viaduct (one of our favourite viewpoints) to the Trimontium site and back is a bargain for only £5 per adult.
Please call 07312111350 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to pre-book (recommended).
3. Hike up to Fatlips Castle
Perched on the Minto Crags visible from Westcote (5 miles north) you'll see Fatlips Castle. Rather than staring from afar during your stay get out your hiking boots and go for a walk. The walk is a steep 25 minutes or so climb but the views at the top are worth it. You'll not only be treated to a beautiful close-up view of the castle but also spectacular views of Teviotdale.
For extra fun, we recommend stopping by Thos B Oliver garage in Denholm and pay £10 (£5 for a refundable deposit and £5 towards the upkeep of the castle) to collect the castle key to get inside Fatlips and explore all it has to offer. This is a perfect social distancing activity; a whole castle to yourselves! However, as of 1st August this is not an option, but hopefully will be later this month!
Other recommended castles include Floors Castle, Hermitage Castle, and Jedburgh Castle and Jail (only the grounds are open due to COVID).
4. Cycle the St Wilfrid's Way
The Borders Abbey Way runs through the historic towns and villages of the Scottish Borders stopping by at the magnificent ruined abbeys of Melrose, Dryburgh, Kelso and Jedburgh, and passing Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832).
The St Wilfrid's Way section of the Borders Abbey Way runs between Hawick and Selkirk and passes through the quaint village of Ashkirk. Perfect for a challenging cycle the 19 km root runs along a minor road, moorland paths, and forest tracks. Signposted with a distinctive W or marker with a yellow arrow on the Borders Abbey Way the root is easy to navigate.
Other recommended cycle paths include the Peebles Loop, Dryburgh Abbey Loop, and the Jedburgh Abbey Loop.
4. Walk to Wolfcleuch Waterfall
A few miles west of Westcote you'll find the Craik Forest; the most perfect fairytale forest escape full of red squirrels, bats, and woodland birds nestled in the heart of the Southern Uplands. There are a number of walks of different lengths and difficulties starting in the Craik Forestry Commission car park, including the Spurce Trail, the Burnside Trail, and the Drove Road Trail. However, the areas hidden gem is Wolfcleuch Waterfall hidden along Aithouse Burn Trail.
If biking is more your thing the area also has two dedicated mountain bike routes to explore: Crib Law Trail and Wolfcleuch Loop.
5. Become a Farmer
If you are not comfortable leaving Westcote and going into the surrounding towns and villages, take advantage of your farm stay and become a farmer for fifteen minutes. Guests can collect their own eggs from our rescued battery hens (now living a happy free-range life) and feed the lambs their breakfast or dinner during their stay. We have plenty of gloves to make this a contact-free experience and encourage guests to wear masks during the feeding/collecting and thoroughly clean their hands afterwards.
Please note, while feeding the lambs is free we charge £1.50 for a box of eggs or you can collect them as part of your breakfast hamper (two-person £17.50; family of four £25).
We hope this small selection of attractions in the Scottish Borders region has given you some inspiration for August activities. 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