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Out & About in the Scottish Borders and Northumberland

We are located in Foulden, Berwickshire, the most easterly of the regions that make up the Scottish Borders.  The English border is just 3 miles away, so our location is perfectly situated for exploring both sides of the border – two countries in one day!

Foulden village has a pretty row of historic cottages and ancient Tithe barn looking across open fields to the Cheviot Hills.  You can walk from here using footpaths or drive and park at the car park for a great panorama.

The nearby village of Ayton, is home to The Hemelvaart Bier Café, a trendy continental style bier café bar which hosts live music, film and comedy events.  Ayton Castle can be seen through the trees on your way to the village, a stunning sandstone fairy-tale castle built in the Scottish baronial style.  It is being lovingly restored by the current owners and is occasionally open to the public for tours.

The most northerly town in England, Berwick-upon-Tweed, just 5 miles away, is famous for its Elizabethan fortifications and many skirmishes with Scotland over the centuries, changing nationalities 13 times over three centuries before the Act of Union in 1707.  Nowadays this peaceful town offers a range of local independent shops as well as supermarkets, and great walks around the town walls and older streets, looking out to sea from the magnificent tall walls – you can do a walking tour in around 40 minutes, stopping off for a delicious ice cream or coffee on the way.

The Royal Border Bridge spans the River Tweed at Berwick-upon-Tweed and is a must to see, particularly in the evening when its huge arches are lit from underneath with different colours.  Designed by Robert Stephenson, it is a Grade 1 listed railway viaduct and was completed by 1850.  If you arrive by train from the south, you will cross the Bridge before you arrive at the train station.

All along the coast are small fishing villages, the prettiest being St Abbs and Coldingham, and fabulous uncrowded and unspoilt beaches with big blue sky vistas.  On a low tide you can walk all the way from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Lindisfarne (Holy Island) and beyond!  For the hardy, the open sea swimming is invigorating!

A wee gem of a day out can be had at Ford & Etal Estate, 25 minutes’ drive south-west.  You can ride on the Heatherslaw Light Railway, see Ford and Etal castles, visit Heatherlaw Mill (breadmaking in the summer), have afternoon tea at the Lavender Tea Room and meet the friendly Clydesdale horses at Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre.  The River Till offers canoeing trips (book in advance), the river is gorgeous and you can paddle here on a warm day in the shallows.

Kelso is a half hour drive away and boasts a beautiful Georgian town square and town hall, the ancient Kelso Abbey, independent shops and Kelso Racecourse, voted the friendliest racecourse in the country, holding regular jump meetings from autumn to spring.  Famous for textiles, the Scottish Borders offers excellent discounted shopping for high quality knitwear from market leading cashmere and woollen companies.

The tiny island of Lindisfarne, once home to St Cuthbert, is extremely picturesque and linked to the mainland only at low tide by a causeway.  Visitors can visit the evocative remains of a ruined 11th century priory, a beautifully restored castle, upside down boat houses and the infamous Lindisfarne Mead, originally made by monks.  But keep an eye on the time as the fast incoming tide waits for no man – or woman!

Historic Alnwick Castle, where Harry Potter learnt to ride his broomstick, and Alnwick Gardens, a fantastic modern gardens with a magnificent water cascade are a 40 minute drive south, with a sea view nearly all the way.

A fundamental part of Border history is the “Riding of the Bounds”, also known as the Common Riding, a tradition undertaken by the townsfolk of Berwick-upon-Tweed and 11 Scottish towns in succession throughout the spring and summer months.  These events are huge week long occasions, with hundreds of horses and riders parading through the town with the Principal riding his horse, carrying a huge town flag, before riding the bounds of their parish, often at the gallop.  They are spectacular events to watch, even if you’re not from the area, with the Flodden ride from Coldstream in August being one of the most stirring – hundreds of horses and riders galloping up Flodden Hill to the cheering and cries of the crowd.  If you are an experienced horse rider, you can hire a horse from one of the local stables to take part, but book well in advance.

Eating Out
The area has many cosy pubs, quaint cafés and relaxing restaurants – try The Maltings Kitchen and Atelier in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Oblo’s in Eyemouth, Allanton Inn in Allanton and The Cross in Paxton.  You will find that most restaurants here use locally sourced produce, resulting in some great dining experiences.

Cycling and Walking
There are excellent cycling routes throughout the area, Shepher’s Rest is located on a recognised cycling route, so you are already started!  The Tweed Cycle Way nearby is a fantastic long distance route, see the Visit Scotland link for more details.  Bike hires and repairs are available in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

For a relaxed afternoon, take a walk on the town walls in Berwick-upon-Tweed, with fantastic views from the coast and the Elizabethan fortifications.  You can visit Berwick Barracks on the way and pop in for coffee and cake at Atelier on Bridge Street.  There are several long distance walks in the Scottish Borders – the Southern Upland Way, St Cuthbert’s Way and Border Abbeys routes being just a few – maps are available from Visit Scotland.  Most of the Border towns have town trails to follow, taking in local landmarks and ending in an afternoon tea.

Horse Riding & Racing
Kimmerston Riding Stables and Nenthorn Equestrian Centre both offer tuition and hacking in beautiful countryside, contact us for more information.  They also have horses available for the “Riding of the Bounds” (Common Ridings) festivals for the more experienced rider.

Kelso Racecourse offers National Hunt racing (hurdles & steeplechase) in the autumn through to spring. Point to Point racing is also held at Kelso on a lovely course with a view of Floors Castle over the River Tweed.

There are many golf courses from which to choose, with many links courses including Goswick, Eyemouth and Bamburgh, with some offering discounted rates with the “Freedom of the Fairways” scheme.

At our farm, you can often see hares, roe deer, badgers, foxes, squirrels, owls, many species of birds, not to mention our own sheep, Highland and Shetland ponies, rare breed pigs and free-range chickens.  Paxton House nearby is known for red squirrels, otters and kingfishers and has a great walk beside the magnificent River Tweed, with river boat tours being available in the summer.

The East Coast is home to amazing sea bird colonies – take a boat trip from North Berwick to Bass Rock to see thousands of gannets diving for fish and wonder at the sheer number of nests on this ancient volcano.  The Scottish Seabird Centre is based here.  From Seahouses, there are boat trips to the Farne Islands to see incredibly cute puffins and baby seals.  Closer to base, you can feed seals in Eyemouth Harbour.

The River Tweed is one of the most famous Salmon fishing river in the world.  It is the third largest river in Scotland and runs for 100 miles.  It finally crosses the Border into England and flows out to sea at Berwick-upon-Tweed.  Fishing is strictly by permit only and the season starts in February and runs until November.  More details are available through Visit Scotland.  Trout fishing is available at Whinney Loch, Coldingham Loch and Watch Water Reservoir.  For those with an interest in all things fishing, seasonal traditional netting still takes place on the River Tweed at Paxton House.

Canoeing & Water Sports
You can book canoeing trips on the River Till at Ford & Etal Estates (followed by a cream tea with lavender scones at the Lavender Tea Room in Etal!).  If you fancy surfing, there are several surf schools in Coldingham and Dunbar.

We are an ideal base for exploring the stunning and varied coastline with mile up mile of golden sands which remain almost deserted even in the summer months.  Get up early to see the sunrise on any of the east coast beaches and you won’t be disappointed.  Our personal favourite is Cheswick, with views to Lindisfarne to the south and Berwick-upon-Tweed to the north, this beach just goes on and on, the sea often turquoise, with vast sand dunes behind you and a huge expanse of sand at low tide.  It’s bracing for a sea swim, but take your wetsuit unless it’s really hot!  The magnificent views from the cliff top at St Abb’s Head and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne are particularly special.

The region’s rich and often bloody history is reflected in the many magnificent castles, from Norham Castle on the English side, besieged at least 13 times by the Scots to Bamburgh, perched high on its rocky outcrop above a huge beach.  The vast romantic ruins of Dunstanburgh, the palatial splendour of Floors Castle in Kelso and Chillingham Castle with its herd of wild white cattle to Alnwick Castle, the location for Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Harry Potter….there is a castle here to suit everyone!

The need for speed…

Berwick-upon-Tweed is home to the Berwick Bandits Speedway, an adrenaline-fuelled evening watching the riders on dirt bikes compete with rival teams.  The season runs from March to the autumn, kids are free and the action starts at 7pm most Saturday nights, see their Facebook page for more information.

Boat and RIB trips
Leaving from Eyemouth and St Abbs ports offering high-speed fun-filled sea excursions, several companies run different types of boat to suit every customer.

The Jim Clark Road Rally is the only closed road annual event in the UK and is run in the Scottish Borders annually at the end of May.  The event sometimes comies straight past the site and spectators are assured of an exciting day!

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