The Scottish Borders: Pentland Hills, West Linton, Peebles and Traquair

31 Oct

October 31, 2016

We love visiting our son and daughter-in-law in Edinburgh, but we’re keenly conscious of the three night rule. Like fish visitors go off after three nights. And a young married couple need their own space. We tend to rent a place in the country so they can pop down on the weekend and we can drive up to see them for a meal or to help in the garden.

This time we positioned ourselves for a week in West Linton, 35 minutes drive south west of Edinburgh. Stuart found a 200-year-old fully renovated cosy bolthole, Braemar Cottage. This tiny cottage is right at the heart of the historic village and a short stroll from two feature walks, the Pentland Way and a Roman Road. Two droving routes cross here, marked by toll houses and roman bridges.

Halloween isn’t even over but the Xmas street lights are going up in West Linton.

Down the road is Whitmuir The Organic Place, an organic farm, produce shop, cafe and art gallery.

Pentland Hills in the Scottish Borders region covers a vast area of rolling pasture and woodlands dotted by reservoirs and lochs  frequented by anglers. We borrowed bicycles from Tristan and cycled in the Pentland Hills Regional Park on a quiet minor road ending with lunch in the Flotterstone Inn.

A circular walk from Carlops to North Esk reservoir finished in the Allan Ramsay pub. The life and works of Scottish cultural heroes, Allan Ramsay senior and junior, are celebrated at an annual festival centred around the pub and the walls feature art, stories and poems by the prolific Ramsays. We returned for an evening of poetry reading and Scottish music but I confess there was rather too much of the former and not enough of the latter for my taste.

The inscription reads ‘God’s Gift’.

The men of Carlops Church proudly serve us their potage for a community lunch.

Another walk on the Pentland Way took us past a hunting party beating pheasants from cover. Guns boomed out almost continuously. Happily we didn’t witness any carnage, however we encountered a large number of handsome pheasants later in the walk keeping well out of the hunters’ way.

Day trips to Traquair House near Innerleithen, and Peebles town were rewarding. I have never before stood in a family home that’s been continuously occupied by the same family for over 900 years. Traquair House began as a royal hunting lodge which was gifted to the Stewarts (later Stuarts) who were staunch Jacobites. Twenty seven Scottish kings and queens visited Traquair and Mary Queen of Scots famously stayed there with her two-month-old baby James, the future King James VI of Scotland and James I of England. Mary’s own needlework adorns bed hangings and her rosary and personal crucifex are on display. The current owner of Traquair, Catherine Maxwell Stuart, is an energetic 21st laird. Traquair House looks set to make its 1000th anniversary.

The famous Traquair bear gates were locked in 1745 after Bonnie Prince Charlie left the premises. The then laird announced they would not be opened until a Stuart king returned. 

Peebles is an attractive, busy town with good shopping, a theatre, several hotels and the historic Hydro. Autumn is a crack time to visit. According to locals, this year the tree colours have been particularly spectacular.Peebles Hydro Hotel 

We’re off to Glasgow tomorrow then on to Aberfeldy for our final weekend in Europe. Almost time for the swallows to fly south.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: