The Tweed Valley is renowned for having some of the best mountain biking on the planet, but it’s also a magnet for those who love playing outdoors, on or off their bikes. Here are some ideas for a truly adventurous weekend in this wonderful area
First things first, you’ll need some outdoor-minded accommodation for your adventure break. We love Tantah Croft, a delightful self-catering eco-build nestled in the hills just a mile south of Peebles town centre. It’s VERY bike and walker friendly, although do also check out the likes of Cosaig Self-Catering, The Stanes, The Bike Lodge, Morningside Cottage and Innerhaven (all in Innerleithen) which are well-used to welcoming muddy feet and bikes (many are also members of the Tweed Valley Mountain Bike Hospitality Scheme). Glede Knowe Guest House is another excellent choice for those who don’t fancy fending for themselves completely.
If choosing Tantah Croft, be sure to take a stroll (or run or ride!) into nearby Cademuir Forest – one of the smallest of the Tweed Valley forests, but with a fascinating cultural history (check out the Iron Age hill forts). Try the easy Tantah’s Trail (1.4 miles) or the longer Pilots’ Trail (3.3 miles). Both are way-marked. The excellent John Buchan Way – a 13-mile trail between Peebles and Broughton – is also signposted nearby.
Get up early for a full day of adventure – starting with some world-class mountain biking. There’s a lifetime of riding to be enjoyed in the hills all around, but a good start would be to head to Glentress to get a taste of the UK’s finest trail centre (also home to the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland). With every imaginable type of trail to choose from – ranging from easy green (suitable for the really young) to experts-only black trails – the riding can be as wild or mild as you like. Following a multi-million pound investment, the facilities at Glentress are as good as the trails, with bike wash, showers and changing, bike shop and rental, walking routes and café all available from the lower trailhead. There’s also on-site wigwam accommodation that is ideal for accommodating larger groups.
More experienced riders may prefer to head a little further down the valley to the much lower-key trailhead at Innerleithen. This is the place to go for truly epic downhill and freeride trails, as well as a wonderful red-graded cross country route.
Do also ask in the many bike shops locally (rental available from many) about the awesome selection of natural trails that will take you well beyond the trail centres and into some truly wild country. Better still choose a guiding outfit to show you around. Outstanding companies such as Ridelines, Go-Where (the go-to company for mountain biking adventures all over Scotland) and Swift Trails (which specialises in women-only groups) can show you the very best of the Tweed Valley. Ridelines also offers industry-leading mountain biking tuition, from one to one skills sessions to courses and group packages.
After the ups and downs of a day hopefully more in than out of the saddle, it’s time for some seriously good grub. Take a break from cooking for the night and try one of the local eateries. For a lunch-time pit stop, the Whistlestop Café, No 1 Peebles Road (both Innerleithen) or Restaurant at Kailzie are hard to beat, while for evening meals try the Tontine Hotel, the restaurant at the recently-refurbished Peebles Hotel Hydro, Coltman’s or Osso Restaurant (all in Peebles).
Today could be all about trying something different. When water levels are right, the River Tweed can provide excellent canoe and kayak touring. The river can be run from just above Peebles all the way to Berwick-upon-Tweed (a journey that would take three/four days), or broken up into bite-size sections. The Tweed offers mainly grade II water, with some grade III sections to spice things up here and there. Bring your own craft, or look for outdoor activity companies such as Epic Adventures that provide guided tours of the river.
If rivers are not your thing, then how about taking to the trees? Built on a hillside within Glentress Forest, the Go Ape Tree Top Adventure course is one of the best around with a series of challenging obstacles – from rope bridges to Tarzan swings and crossings – some jaw dropping exposure and a seriously high (and looong) zip wire at the end.
But if you want to do something REALLY different, we’d heartily recommend you have a shot of the electric bikes available from E-Motion Bikes. Sturdy beasts, the bikes look much like regular hybrid bikes, albeit with an electric motor built into the rear hub. But effort is still required: the bikes are ‘pedal-assist’, which means the motor only kicks in to give riders a helping hand when their speed drops off – great for covering big distances without having to worry too much about the hills.
Another option is to make your way to Velvet Hall Alpacas where you can either just meet and learn more about these fabulous animals or go on a mini-trek with them (great for kids!). As well as being a lot of fun, the treks also provide fabulous views of the wider Tweed Valley.
That should be more than enough to be going along with (and that without even mentioning the fantastic road cycling). And if your visit has got you in the mood for getting to know the Tweed Valley even better, then why not return for one of the area’s showcase outdoor events – the properly bonkers Mighty Deerstalker (March), the quite brilliant TweedLove bike festival (May) and the annual Peebles Outdoor Film Festival (January) at the Eastgate Theatre.