One of Peebles’ greatest assets, Hay Lodge Park is the jewel in the crown of a town not exactly short of green space. Easily reached from the centre of town – just follow the Tweed upstream – the park offers wide open spaces, big trees, children’s play areas and even an old ice house once used for storing salmon plucked from the river.
Acquired from the Wemyss and March Estate in 1920 for use by townspeople. It’s not just the size and variety of the park that sets Hay Lodge aside, but also its setting. Stand high up by the boundary wall in the northwest corner, and there are magnificent views over the wooded banks of the Tweed and beyond to Hundleshope Heights and the cluster of hills to the south. Meanwhile, along the Tweed Valley, the pointed summit of Lee Pen can be seen standing guard over Innerleithen some six miles to the east.
Events in Hay Lodge
Not surprisingly, many local events make full use of the park – from the annual fording of the Tweed above Fotheringham Bridge during the Beltane Festival to rugby matches and the Peebles Highland Show, this is a park that is well-used throughout the year. The weekly ‘Sunday Park Runs’ are in Hay Lodge and during snowy winters, its upper slopes become a sledging heaven, with some people even donning skis to chance a few turns on the steeper sections.
This is a park that is full of character – and full of life, too. Down by the water’s edge, sightings of heron, goosander and dipper are common, while the very lucky may also spot kingfisher and otter. In the Autumn, it’s hard not to notice the leaping of fish as salmon and sea trout head upstream during the autumn run.
Beyond Hay Lodge
And there are surprises too for those who want to venture beyond Hay Lodge Park. Cross a tiny footbridge at the far end of the park and you enter a world of rocky outcrops, deep pools, stands of gnarled Scots pine and a rough trail that leads beneath the imposing walls of Neidpath Castle – a classic Borders tower house that dates back to the 14thcentury.
Keep walking and you’ll soon reach the Neidpath viaduct which once carried the old Symington, Biggar and Broughton railway line, but which now provides access to a network of trails on the south side of the river. From here, pick a path through the woodland and follow the river downstream towards Peebles, stopping to enjoy a different take on the park from the opposite bank of the river.
Discovering this wonderful park is one of the joys of visiting Peebles. So when next here, be sure to step out and enjoy your own special Hay Lodge moment.
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