Our Tweed Valley – Sarah Richardson, Bowhill House

  • The exquisite dining room at Bowhill House

 

As Visitor Services & Marketing Manager at Bowhill House near Selkirk, Sarah Richardson has an incredibly varied role. We caught up with her to find out about life at one of Scotland’s most impressive country homes and visitor attractions

How’s the summer been so far … nice and busy (and hot!)?

It’s been interesting! To go from snow at Easter to heatwaves in June/July and at the start of the school holidays has been fantastic.

Tell us more about your role at Bowhill

I’ve been here for 10 years now. My current role includes some of the day-to-day running of the attraction, including organising activities and events, weddings, purchasing for the shop and overseeing the tearoom. I’ve also just started doing the marketing for Bowhill, Drumlanrig Castle (near Dumfries) and Boughton House (in Northamptonshire).

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

The variety! One day I could be at a trade show selling Bowhill and the Borders to international buyers and the next I could be blowing up balloons for a children’s party. It’s never dull. I also love meeting lots of different people, from locals who visit regularly to international guests finding out about their Scott ancestry and holiday-makers exploring the region for the first time. 

For those who’ve never been, what’s so special about Bowhill?

Stretching to 58,000 acres, Bowhill is still very much a working estate with farms, forestry, sporting interests and tourism all important. Visitors can enjoy a range of walks and waymarked trails, the well-known woodland adventure playground, ranger-led activities for all ages, an old Victorian Kitchen, an exhibition, small soft play, gift shop and tearoom. There is also of course the House itself – a family home which is open on selected dates through our open season.

Bowhill is the country home of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch … how often are they about?

The Duke and Duchess and the rest of the family very much see Bowhill as their family home, so we are lucky that they are here regularly.

What’s your favourite part of the house?

Generally, I like that you can tell it’s a family home, not a museum – there are family pictures everywhere and it has a lived-in warmth. But if I had to pick two rooms I would go for the Morning Room – it has exquisite hand-painted Chinese wallpaper, lots of windows and comfortable seating – plus the Dining Room. I was lucky enough to get married there surrounded by amazing works of art by Gainsborough, Reynolds and Canaletto.

And how about a favourite spot in the grounds outside?

When I was younger I would have said the adventure playground but now it’s the Lochs Walk. I bring my cocker spaniel, Bella, to work with me, so get to walk around the upper loch regularly. I love how it changes through the seasons.

Tell us something surprising about Bowhill

During the wars it was used as a military hospital, and also a training area. Every Monday morning at 10am you can still hear the old air raid siren (our fire alarm) being tested. On a quiet day it can be heard in Selkirk (3.5 miles away).

What top three things should visitors be sure to do/see when coming to Bowhill?

Number 1 has to be a house tour. The art collection is truly amazing, but the story of the family history and that of the house is also really interesting. The guides are brilliant at explaining everything in a really engaging way. If the house isn’t open, we also have a fantastic new exhibition about the 5th Duke and Duchess who really made Bowhill what it is today.

Number 2 – a Land Rover tour. Although I have worked here for years I am still amazed at the scale of the estate and the changing scenery from season to season. The tours provide stunning views as far as the Eildons, plus plenty of history about the estate.

Number 3 – the Lady’s Walk, which meanders next to the Yarrow River and leads to Newark Castle (dating back to around 1423).

Finally, what are your favourite things to do on a day off?

Spending time with friends and family. This year, in particular, I have been making the most of what the Borders has to offer. We’ve been roller skating at Born in the Borders, ridden with Border Segways, plus also checked out the lively Melrose Sevens and Borders Book Festival.

 

Further info

One of Scotland’s finest historic houses, Bowhill and the wider estate offers a wonderful day out for the whole family, with house tours, outdoor activities and a host of special events and exhibitions from Easter to September. Kids will LOVE the adventure playground! For more information, visit http://www.bowhillhouse.co.uk

 

 

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