How to plan an adventurous weekend in the Tweed Valley, Scotland
In paid partnership with Go Tweed Valley
There’s one question I get asked all the time by adventure-hungry but time-poor travel types – where is best to head to in Britain for a jam-packed few days of exploring? After last weekend, I reckon I’ve got the perfect answer – Scotland’s Tweed Valley.
This surprisingly rugged corner of the Scottish Borders is best known by outdoorsy types for its world-class mountain biking – but this landscape of rolling hills and miles of forest is also perfect for hiking, trail running, historical rambles and even a dip or two in the cool River Tweed.
Driving here from Glasgow, I was impressed by how easily accessed this corner of Scotland is from the country’s biggest cities going south (the Tweed Valley is just an hour from Edinburgh), and from England coming north. But arriving here still feels like a proper adventure – the landscape changes dramatically as you enter the Tweed Valley, where tall hills (you’re not supposed to call them mountains, but they’re pretty dramatic all the same) and thick forest rub shoulders with pretty stone villages. Home to Enduro World Series events, the Tweed Valley Trail Run and the Glentress Winter Trail Half Marathon as well as to friendly towns with buzzy art and foodie scenes, the Tweed Valley makes the perfect adventure playground for a weekend in any season.
Below you’ll find my favourite hikes, bikes and bites to eat, plus cosy places to stay – mix and match to plan your own perfect adventure weekend in the Tweed Valley.
Where to stay, eat and explore in the Tweed Valley
WHAT TO DO
Go mountain biking with Ridelines
It wouldn’t really be a trip to the Tweed Valley if you didn’t hop on a bike at some point, and I think the best way to explore Glentress Forest, one of Scotland’s 7stanes mountain biking hubs, is armed with local knowledge. Go biking with a guide from Ridelines – their instructors can take you out on anything from the gnarliest MTB routes to wide forest tracks ideal for gentler pedals. For those who want to explore further, eBike Hire Scotland (based at The Glentress Hotel) offers a fleet of eBikes for hire, while Ridelines can provide guided tuition rides that are ideal for improving your singletrack skills.
Walk in the Traquair Estate
If you like a hike with a bit of history, try this 3-mile circular walk, which takes in sweeping views over Innerleithen before circling back to exlore the stately house of Traquair. Home to the Stuarts since 1491, this house has seen its share of kings and queens and turbulent times but still stands grandly today, and its walled gardens and grounds are lovely to ramble in. The estate even has its own brewery, if you fancy a post-walk pint.
Hike Cademuir Hill and the John Buchan Way
The Tweed Valley is ringed with imposing hillsides – and it’s impossible not to be tempted to tackle one of the peaks during a stay here. My favourite is Cademuir Hill – at the top you’ll find the remains of an iron age fort and jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Tweed Valley. Follow my Komoot route up Cademuir for a shorter 5-mile hike, or climb it as part of the John Buchan Way. Named for the native of Peebles who penned The 39 Steps, this 13-mile route from Broughton to Peebles rambles over rolling hills and valleys and makes the perfect day-long hike.
Swim and steam at the Peebles Hydro
The grand old Peebles Hydro Hotel looks like something straight out of a Wes Anderson film. The huge and inviting pool has gorgeous views of the valley, plus a steam room and sauna, and you’ll also find the smart Pure Spa offering a range of treatments at the hotel – the deep tissue massage is especially recommended for active types.
Wander around Peebles
Pretty Peebles has been known as a bit of a hub for artists and creators for years – and these days it’s home to a variety of independent shops that make the high street well worth a nosey. Go gallery-hopping, pop into the Tweeddale Museum or, on a sunny day, grab a coffee from Rambler’s Coffee Shop and sit to soak up the rays by the flower-lined River Tweed, which runs through the heart of town.
Go trail running
Grab your running shoes: the Tweed Valley’s wide-open hillsides and forest tracks are perfect for exploring at a faster pace on a trail run. It’s easy to plan your own route (try a jog through the eerie Neidpath Tunnel on your way back to town), but if you time your weekend in the Valley for October, you can also sign up for the Tweed Valley Trail run, which offers running distances from 5k to 20k as well as a walker’s route. I got a sneak peek at the 10k route and reckon it’d be even more beautiful in the bright colours of autumn.
Dip in the Tweed
A river runs through it – the deep clear waters of the Tweed are never far away if you’re exploring in the valley, and its shallower corners are perfect for a swim. Go Tweed Valley lists four beautiful river swim spots where you can cool off with a dip.
WHERE TO EAT
Osso served up one of the best suppers I’ve had in a long time, and with none of the stuffiness of some fine dining eateries. Expect perfect little plates and well-matched wines at this snug and welcoming restaurant on Peebles High Street – the tapas-style menu will suit however hungry you’re feeling. A real gem – and I’m going to be thinking about their incredible parmesan custard for the rest of my life.
Pop in for afternoon tea at this pleasingly old-fashioned hotel, which serves macarons, delightful little cakes and homemade scones each afternoon. The Hydro uses locally-sourced ingredients and even has its own on-site gin distillery if you fancy a cheeky cocktail to go with your cake.
This cyclist’s favourite has a welcoming restaurant and sunny outdoor terrace that serve up no airs and graces – just the perfect balance of hearty local fare and some seriously delicious flavours, plus an ever-changing specials board.
WHERE TO STAY
After a friendly adventure base for your weekend in and around the Tweed Valley? Look no further – I loved the welcoming, relaxed vibe at this bike-mad hotel. The Glentress Hotel is run by the affable Murray, a keen mountain biker himself who also offers bike and e-bike hire, and Glentress Forest is literally around the corner, so you can pedal or hike straight onto world-class trails from the door. Rooms are Scandi- style simple, and downstairs the restaurant and terrace offer big views of Horsburgh Castle – the perfect places to chill after a busy day on the trails.
Rooms from £80, The Glentress Hotel,
Hate getting FOMO? Stay right in the heart of buzzy Peebles at local favourite the Tontine Hotel. The town’s independent high street is on your doorstep and there’s a terrace and a laid-back bar and restaurant for people watching at this popular spot. Rooms are the last word in cosy (some boast four-poster beds and views of the River Tweed), and a bike store and electric car charging points make it easy to travel green to get here.
Rooms from £100, Tontine Hotel
Snuggle up in this delightfully cosy cabin on a working farm. The Shepherd’s Cabin comes complete with an outdoor shower and compost loo and is the perfect spot for waking up in the wild – you might spot the resident sheep from your windows and there’s even a babbling brook at the foot of the garden. Glentress Forest is easily accessed from the cabin on foot or by bike.
From £90 per night, The Shepherd’s Cabin
Find out more at gotweedvalley.co.uk and share your adventures using the hashtag #GoTweedValley.