Ridelines unveils spring skills courses

Ridelines skills courses


Having been extremely busy through the winter months, Glentress-based mountain bike tuition and guiding business Ridelines is now gearing up for spring with a range of skills courses, from riding for kids and beginners to honing racing skills and National Governing Body MTB Leadership Training and assessments. Here is the full line-up of courses:

19/20 March, 30 April/1 May and 11/12 June – UKMBLA Level 2 Leadership Training

National Governing Body MTB leadership award delivered right here in the Tweed Valley.

2 April, 15 May and 25 June – Jumpstart Skills Course

Understand the techniques and skills needed to reduce your risks and give you the skills and confidence to get your wheels off the ground! If you have always fancied learning to jump and ride smoother on fast trails then this course will get you off to a great start.

3 April, 14 May and 24 June – Innerduro Core Skills

For those looking to build skills and boost confidence when riding extra technical trail and testing Enduro trails. Ideal for riders exploring Enduro racing and for those who just want to build speed and confidence on more challenging trails.

9 April, 8 May and 4 June – Level 1 (Beginner) Skills Course

Aimed at those new to mountain biking, the focus is on the basic skills that a beginner needs to build solid foundations into their riding.

10 April, 7 May and 5 June – Level 2 (Intermediate) Skills Course for Improvers

Designed for riders who want to improve their technique to achieve greater speed and improved confidence and control on all but the most challenging of trails.

5, 6, 7 April – Easter kids courses

These sessions are designed to be progressive so during the block your young rider will get a whole suite of skills to enhance their riding, confidence and control.​ If you worry they can't keep up, want them to get some top quality riding skills, or want to teach your young rider how to keep it under control even when they're flying, then these courses are ideal. Huge fun all round for kids aged 7–14.

Places on all courses are limited, so be sure to book early to secure the tuition of your choice. To book or for further details, contact, or visit

(Photograph: Ridelines)



Moy Mackay Gallery showcases trio of female artists


The Moy Mackay Gallery in Peebles has opened the year with a flourish of female artists, all with very different styles.

The gallery’s current exhibition, which runs until 18 March, features work by a trio of outstanding artists: Rosanne Barr, whose sweeping, expansive brushstrokes capture light and land; Karen Wilson (pictured), who also paints in oil but works in an entirely different way creating a more intimate and textural surface ablaze with flowers in the landscape; plus Helen Fay, a printmaker, who creates wonderful renditions of animals in etching – a medium that allows her to explore depth through intense mark making and the creation of deep strong solidity.

Gallery owner Moy Mackay is herself exploring new territory through the development of felt and stitch fibre prints – an exciting complement to her existing, high-quality giclee prints. The fibre prints are extremely sophisticated, hand-finished, luxurious interpretations of Moy’s wonderful originals. 

As well as the featured artists in the current exhibition, the gallery showcases beautifully crafted objects from applied artists, including glass, wood, sculpture and mixed media pieces which together create a visual delight for the senses.

Further info

The Moy Mackay Gallery is tucked away in the Northgate, Peebles.



Discover an outlandish wedding at Cringletie

Weddings at Cringletie House


Cringletie House, one of Scotland’s top wedding venues, is inviting all those planning their big day to visit the Borders and discover how wedding dreams can be made true. Inspired by the global phenomenon that is the Outlander series, Cringletie is holding two wedding showcases this month (7 and 28 February) that will enable couples to see how the castle could look on their special day.

“Our two showcase dates will provide a glimpse of what could be enjoyed as couples explore their dreams for a perfect fairy-tale wedding,” explained Johanna Van Houdt, owner and personal wedding organiser.

Set in 28 acres of beautiful Peeblesshire countryside, yet only 40 minutes from Edinburgh airport and city centre, Cringletie House is a baronial-style castle that offers true grandeur, from the luxurious interior to glorious views across the lawns and gardens to rolling hills dotted with Highland cows.

In the Outlander series, the big wedding (featuring Jamie and Claire) was filmed at a church close to Cringletie – perfect inspiration for fans of the series who might like to have their wedding in the same style. From menus to jewellery, the Cringletie wedding team will have the whole-set-up covered, added Van Houdt.

But the two showcase dates will likely generate a few additional ideas, be it making use of the 18th century doocot, the wooden bridge across a bubbling stream and waterfall in the grounds, or the magnificent setting of a 400-year-old walled garden. And there are quirky options too, including having the rings delivered by an alpaca. The only limit is your imagination. 

For more info, visit


Peebles Outdoor Film Festival returns

Mark Beaumont


Global adventurer Mark Beaumont will be one of many star attractions as the Peebles Outdoor Film Festival returns to the Eastgate Theatre later this month (22-24 Jan) with an outstanding line-up of speakers, adventure films and hands-on activities.

Following a successful inaugural festival last February, the 2016 event sees an expanded programme of speakers, shorts and feature-length films covering everything from adventure film-making, cycling and trail running to climbing, skiing, wildlife photography and more.

Appropriately enough for a bike-mad area like the Tweed Valley, the opening day of the festival (Fri 22 Jan) is all about life on two wheels. The day sees some wonderful films – including The Program, Stephen Frear’s new film about the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong – plus presentations by elite Scottish mountain bike rider Lee Craigie, the Tweed Valley’s own rising star of world enduro racing Katy Winton, and global adventurer Mark Beaumont.

Now very much a household name, Mark will share his journey, from the boy who pedalled across Scotland and went on to cycle around the world, to capsizing while rowing across the Atlantic and exploring the high Arctic.

Earlier on the Friday, there will be a chance to find out what some of the kids from Peebles High School really get up to in their spare time – in this case heading into the hills to build mountain bike trails, often with tools hand-made for the job. These young trail blazers will tell all together with Tweed Valley trail-building legend Pete Laing. 

The programme for Saturday begins with the first of two early bird adventures: a chance for energetic dog lovers to try their hand at canicross and bikejor under the expert guidance of the team from Cani-Fit. Later on the same day, Cani-Fit’s Lindsay Johnson will present on the joys of running, cycling and scootering with our four-legged friends – sports that have seen a huge rise in popularity across Scotland.

Also on Saturday, charted forester and mountaineer James Ogilvie will talk about summiting Mount Vinson in Antarctica, so completing his 20-year journey to climb the fabled Seven Summits (the seven highest peaks on each continent); plus there will be a window into the world of the multiple-award-winning Jen Randall, one of the rising young stars of adventure film-making in Scotland. The day is rounded off by National Geo Wild TV presenter, explorer and conservationist Niall McCann who will share stories of his many adventures from around the world.

The third and final day begins early again with an opportunity to join celebrated wildlife photographer Laurie Campbell on a fieldcraft master-class as he walks the banks of the Tweed in search of otter tracks, trails and signs. Born and raised in Berwick, Laurie has delighted in the return of otters to the River Tweed – the subject of his beautifully-illustrated talk later on the same day.

Also on Sunday, local triathlete Scott Noble will tell an entertaining tale of how he caught the triathlon bug; Glasgow-based ultra-runner Elspeth Luke will recount the highs and lows of a remarkable 34-day, 680-mile run along the watershed of Scotland; and Stu Thomson from award-winning production company Cut Media will talk about how he came to work with renowned athletes such as Danny Macaskill (including on the phenomenal viral hit The Ridge) and his plans for future projects.

Each day, the talks will be complemented by a series of short film sessions themed around the joy of riding bikes (Friday), extremes of human endeavour and endurance (Saturday), and worldwide adventure and exploration (Sunday), as well as feature-length presentations.

“We’ve got an exceptional mix of films from around the world covering everything from cycling and fell running to climbing, skiing and some very wild swimming,” explained Rich Rowe, a member of the festival team. “Between them, they will make people laugh, cry, possibly wince a bit and, we hope, also inspire a few outdoor adventures of their own.”

This year, the Peebles Outdoor Film Festival has also launched a new competition for short films that capture the excitement, adventure, or just sheer natural beauty of the outdoors. The winners of the Outdoor Shorts competition will be chosen both by a panel of expert judges and by public vote during the festival, with the winning entries shown on the big screen at the Eastgate as part of the final short film session on the Sunday.

The second Peebles Outdoor Film Festival runs from 22–24 January 2016. Hard copies of the programme are available from the Eastgate Theatre Box Office, or can be viewed online at

Tickets are available now from Box Office on 01721 725777, or online. Look out for special day passes (£25 adult, £15 child) that include all films and speaker presentations on each of the three days. 


Celebrate St Andrew's Day at Abbotsford

Abbotsford in all its glory


Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, will open its doors for a free celebration of St Andrew’s Day on Monday (10-4pm, 30 Nov), with drop-in activities suitable for all the family. The day will see face painting, arts and crafts activities, special family guided tours, storytelling and a birds of prey display.

It’s a wonderful chance to experience the many different faces of this fascinating house and estate. Visitors will be able to enter competitions to win family passes; build dens in the play trail; take a guided estate walk with the ranger; or simply take in the remarkable beauty of this iconic literary house.

Refreshments will be available in Abbotsford’s Ochiltrees restaurant, which offers lovely views over the walled garden and the historic house. Likewise, the visitor centre shop will be open throughout to purchase souvenirs crafted by local makers, or maybe to find that special Christmas gift ahead of the rush.

The day promises to be a great opportunity for families and the community to learn about Sir Walter Scott’s ‘conundrum castle’. “If you have ever wondered what Abbotsford has to offer families, or been curious about the incredible story of Sir Walter Scott, then now is the time to find out!” said Abbotsford’s Chief Executive Officer, Giles Ingram.



Christmas at the Macdonald Cardrona


The Macdonald Cardrona Hotel & Golf Spa has got Christmas and New Year more than covered this year, with guests invited to come and enjoy a variety of celebratory events over the festive period.

On Christmas Day, there will be a mouthwatering traditional festive carvery lunch for all the family in the hotel's Manderston Suite (£70.50 adult, £30.50 child 12-16 years, £19 per child 5-11 years, under 5s free) that will include a special appearance from Santa.

There is also an opportunity to take the stress out of Christmas Day entertaining with a special adults-only lunch in the elegant surroundings of Renwicks Restaurant (pictured). Just sit back, relax and enjoy a Christmas Day with real panache (2-4pm, £80.50 per person).

And, after a brief pause, the hotel is also gearing up for some exciting celebrations over Hogmanay. The hotel's one-night package (from £225.50 per person) sees a malt whisky and festive tea on arrival on New Year’s Eve, an exquisite black-tie ball (which includes a champagne cocktail, extravagant four-course meal and a brilliant ceilidh band and disco), plus a bucks fizz or Irn-Bru brunch the following morning.

For more details on these and other offers, visit:


Film festival launches short film competition

Lee Craigie shot on a wild journey from Dundonnel to Poolewe

Image: Lee Craigie (one of the speakers at the 2016 festival) shot on a wild journey from Dundonnel to Poolewe


Peebles Outdoor Film Festival 2016 has launched a competition for short films that capture the excitement, adventure, or just sheer natural beauty of life out-of-doors. The winners of the Outdoor Shorts competition will be chosen both by a panel of expert judges and a public vote during the festival, which runs over the weekend of 22–24 January.

Film makers of all ages are invited to submit outdoor-themed films, either documentary or fictional work, of no more than five minutes duration that demonstrate creatively, originality and story-telling skill. Films should explore the theme of life out-of-doors – perhaps an adventure, journey, story, personal experience, or portrait of a person or place.

Films can be submitted in either of two categories, under 18 and open, with two prizes awarded in each category. The deadline for submitting films is midday on Friday 8 January.

During the festival, a viewing facility will be set up in the Eastgate Theatre from 2pm on Friday 22 January until 2pm on Sunday 24 January, during which time festival-goers will be able to view all short-listed films. All entrants in the Outdoor Shorts competition will be invited to attend the short film session, Wild World, on Sunday 24 January between 6.15 and 7pm, when the prize winners will be announced and their films shown on the big screen at the Eastgate.

The inaugural Peebles Outdoor Film Festival took place in February this year, with an outstanding programme of films and speakers that was enthusiastically received by audiences. The 2016 event – the full programme for which will be officially launched at the end of November – will be even stronger still, with a fantastic line-up of top-quality speakers, adventure films, hands-on sessions and a mini-exhibition in the café area, as well as the Outdoor Shorts competition.

An entry form and full guidelines for entrants to the Outdoor Shorts competition can be found at

The Peebles Outdoor Film Festival runs from 22–24 January 2016. Full details on this year’s programme, including booking information, will be available soon from the Eastgate Theatre Box Office and online. 


Eastgate Theatre stages world premiere set in the Borders


On Saturday 31 October, the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles will stage the world premiere of a brand new play that is a must-see for anyone with an interest in Borders history – in particular a textile industry that was the beating heart of the area for so many years.

Threads, the latest production from award-winning theatre company Stellar Quines, tells the seemingly simple story of five women in a Borders knitting group. But there is far more to it than that. The play opens with the five women getting together as usual, although this time, as they blether, their stories burst into life – amazing, colourful lives filled with laughter, songs, moments of intense sadness, and even dancing. 

Threads was inspired by detailed research into the lives of Borders knitters and the stories told by women workers in the textile industry. “It all began with a project about women and knitting,” explained writer Sylvia Dow. “We joined in with a knitting group in Hawick for around ten weeks. The play weaves together some of the stories we heard there and some historical stories so that it becomes like a piece of knitting itself.”

“It’s not really a conventional play … one character is talking, then another one goes back – like a conversation,” continued director Muriel Romanes. “I knew that, somehow, we had to evoke the sound of the machinery in the mills; I wanted the sound of the engine of the knitting, not just hand knitting but the machinery, so we came up with clogging, step dancing that kind of sound to provide those rhythms.”

And the songs really underline the themes of the play, added Sylvia. “It’s about women, work, knitting and the whole thread of life – all with a real Borders flavour throughout.”

Threads certainly takes strands of different lives and weaves them into an intricate pattern. A central character, Agnes’ story is based on the real life of a young mother in the late 1800s whose sister works in the local mill in Hawick. Desperate to feed her five children, Agnes and her sister steal no less than 479 yards of yarn to sell. But they are discovered and Agnes is sent to Jedburgh jail.

Agnes is played by multi-award winning actor Molly Innes. Annie Grace plays Mrs Gaughain who, in real life, was the owner of an Emporium on George Street selling wool and other haberdashery to the good ladies of Edinburgh. The cast also includes Joanna Tope as Mary, Paksie Vernon as Lucy and Pauline Knowles as Hattie.

Projected images of mills, mill girls and the redoubtable Edinburgh Emporium form a backdrop to the live action in the play. The stories are interspersed with step dance, live music and traditional songs as the women knit together a very particular time and place in Borders history.

Further info

Threads opens at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles on Saturday 31 October at 7.30pm. Tickets are £12, £10, £5 for schoolchildren. Available now on 01721 725777 or

The play then tours:

Monday 2 November, 7.30pm, Barony Theatre, Bo’ness, t. 07811 156234

Tuesday 3 November, 7.30pm, Yarrow Fues Hall, t. 07774 683064

Thursday 5 November, 7.30pm, MacArts, Galashiels,

Friday 6 November, 7.30pm, Heart of Hawick,

Saturday 7 November, 7.30pm, Smailholm Village Hall, t. 01573 460666



Spooky goings-on at Traquair


Halloween will be celebrated in style at Traquair House this year with several ghoulish events at the end of October and into November. Traquair’s commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the 1715 Jacobite Uprising continues when the annual ghost tour of the castle includes some Jacobite ghosts who return to tell stories of adventure and escape having put their lives on the line to fight for the cause.  

The Jacobite ghost tours (Fri 30 and Sat 31 Oct, plus Fri 6 and Sat 7 Nov) ensure an atmospheric visit to Traquair and a perfect way to embrace the spirit of Halloween. Be on your guard for the odd unexpected surprise and then relax in the comfort of the eighteenth century dining room with a glass of mulled wine. 

Families will also love the annual Halloween Fun Day on Sun 1 November, which runs as part of this year’s Tweed Valley Forest Festival. Visitors are encouraged to dress up in their finest Halloween gear as they enjoy a range of great entertainment. This year’s event features the award-winning, mind-reading magician Kevin McMahon, plus workshops with Zoolab who will be bringing all sorts of creatres along, including tarantulas and snakes.

The fun day will also feature traditional Halloween games including apple dookin’ and treacle doughnut catching, a spooky scavenger hunt, ghoulish face painting and a wizard and witches workshop. And for those who dare, take a trip down the famous spooky passage for a very ghostly experience or listen to some ghoulish tales in the library.

The 1745 Cottage Restaurant will be serving Halloween suppers on the nights of the ghost tours as well as delicious lunches and teas every day until the end of October.


Further info

Ghost tour: Adults £12.00, children £8.00 (combined tour and supper ticket £24.00). Tours suitable for 8yrs and over. Call Box Office on 01896 830323.

Halloween Fun Day: Adults £8.00, child/concessions £4.00. Family (two adults and up to three children) £20.00. Tickets on the gate only for this event.


New faces at Abbotsford

Jams Holloway, New Chair of Board of Trustees, Abbotsford Trust


The Abbotsford Trust, which looks after Sir Walter Scott’s historic former home near Melrose, has appointed James Holloway CBE as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. In addition, the Trust has also appointed two new Trustees, David McClay and Matthew Maxwell Scott.

James Holloway has been on the Board of Trustees at Abbotsford since February 2013 having retired in 2012 as Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, where he oversaw a £17.6 million revamp of the historic Edinburgh attraction. James has lectured and had numerous articles published on Scottish art and collections, and is Honorary Curator of the National Trust for Scotland. 

“I’ve long been a huge fan of Sir Walter Scott and for me Abbotsford is one of the most special places there is,” commented James. “It is a very great privilege to be part of the team that will care for and develop the house and estate in the years ahead, helping our visitors get to know one of Scotland’s most remarkable and inspiring citizens.”

James succeeds Lord Sanderson of Bowden as Chairman, who remains on the Board of Trustees.

The Board of The Abbotsford Trust operates on a voluntary basis and has a mission to preserve, protect and improve Abbotsford and enhance knowledge and understanding about the life and works of Sir Walter Scott. Since it was formed in 2007, the Trust has raised over £12 million to safeguard Abbotsford’s future, although fundraising continues with an additional £2.5 million being raised to create an endowment to secure the attraction’s future running costs. Donations made are being matched pound for pound by the Heritage Lottery Fund under its Catalyst Endowment Programme.




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