Enjoy Afternoon Tea In Peebles

Tea with a twist

Special French Fancies with Fizz fundraising event in our Adam Room this coming Sunday (29 April)

A celebration of local adventurers

As you will know by now, we love being outdoors as much as possible here at the Tontine – and particularly exploring all the wonderful hills and trails that we are lucky to have right on our doorstep. But we also like celebrating the phenomenal number of inspirational local adventurers, which is why we are delighted to be sponsoring a series of Local Hero sessions at this year’s Peebles Outdoor Film Festival, which gets underway on Fri 26 Jan at the Eastgate Theatre.

Part of a major festival that also includes a host of big names from further afield, the Local Hero sessions kick off on the opening night with Chutes and Roots – what promises to be a lively presentation by local women’s mountain bike pioneer Lynne Armstrong. A mountain bike coach, former downhill racer, pro free-rider and the woman behind Air Maiden, Lynne will reveal all about her colourful life both here in Scotland and also in Canada.

Saturday (27 Jan) then sees an appearance by David Winton, a cycling-mad dad to an increasingly famous mountain biking daughter, who will talk about his love of tackling long-distance events around the world. Whether reflecting on pedalling from Peebles to Barcelona, riding across Canada, or taking on the famed Transcontinental Race through Europe, David is not short of stories to tell.

The final day of the festival (Sun 28 Jan), then sees two more sessions from local adventurers. It all begins with Bothy Tales, a much-anticipated appearance by Geoff Allan, author of the award-winning The Scottish Bothy Bible, followed later in the day by Scottish winter climbing superstar Greg Boswell. Following a storming appearance at last year’s festival, Greg returns to share tales from his most recent overseas epic, putting up new routes in the wilds of Alaska.

Look out for these and many more outstanding speakers, not to mention a range of world-class adventure films, over the course of the weekend. We might see you there, too – the Tontine will have a stand as part of a mini expo in the café area of the theatre, so do come and say hello!

Further info

The 2018 Peebles Outdoor Film Festival is held at the Eastgate Theatre over the weekend of 26-28 January. Tickets available now from Box Office on 01721 725777, or online www.eastgatearts.com

The full programme can be viewed here, https://eastgatearts.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/POFF_2018.pdf

Photo: Winter climber Greg Boswell on his recent expedition in Alaska

Wood, glorious wood!

You may not appreciate being reminded of the fact, but Christmas is not so very far away. However, the good news is that finding quirky, interesting gifts for friends and family will be a cinch if you head to the Tweed Valley Forest Festival Wood Market this weekend (21-22 Oct)!

Held just behind the Tontine on Tweed Green, and now very much the centerpiece of this long-established festival, the Wood Market has gained a well-earned reputation as the premier event of its kind in Scotland.

Down on Tweed Green itself, visitors can watch as some of the country’s top chainsaw artists create intricate sculptures as part of this year’s Carvefest; small woodland owners who’ve always wanted to saw their own timber can have a nosey at a chainsaw-based mobile sawmill; while there are opportunities to discover the world of bodging – a traditional wood-turning craft – plus have a shot at making everything from wooden spoons to bat boxes and traditional broomsticks for Halloween. And with demonstrations of horse logging also lined up, Tweed Green will be buzzing with activity all weekend.

However, it’s inside the nearby Peebles Community Centre where the real Christmas treats can be found. The indoor element of the Wood Market brings together many of Scotland’s finest producers under one roof. Here, visitors can find bespoke wooden furniture, clocks, sawn timber for home projects, chopping boards, toys, carvings, mirrors and pretty much every other imaginable item made of wood. Look out too for a whole range of fun activities and entertainment for the whole family.

Talking of children (both large and small), one of the most popular events in the whole festival is the annual Scottish Conker Championships, again held on Tweed Green. Players compete in four categories – Junior, Youth, Adult and Rogue – using traditional horse chestnuts. The championships are once again organised and refereed by Borders Forest Trust to ensure there is no funny business.

Last year saw almost 100 entrants young and old bid to be crowned king or queen of the conker ring. Smash Off starts at 12 noon on Saturday, so be sure to have your best conkers at the ready!

Further info

Organised by the TreeFest Partnership, the 2017 Tweed Valley Forest Festival runs over the weekend of 21-22 October. For more details, visit www.forest-festival.com

Photograph: Rich Rowe

 

Creative Peebles Festival 2017

It’s fair to say that Edinburgh rather hogs the limelight when it comes to arts festivals in August, but such is the wealth of creative talent locally that you don’t have to head to the capital for an arts fix at this time of year.

This Friday (25 Aug) sees the start of the 2017 Creative Peebles Festival – a 10-day celebration of the many artists, musicians, arts groups, film-makers and crafts people found in this most arty of towns.

The festival opens with the traditional Open Galleries Evening from 7-9pm on Friday. It’s always a great opportunity to check out the huge variety of visual art produced, displayed and sold at a host of venues around Peebles.

Renowned galleries such as Tweed Art (in the Old Town), Breeze Gallery and Tweeddale Museum & Gallery (both on High Street) and Moy Mackay Gallery (Northgate) are joined by a variety of smaller studios and venues around Peebles. The Tontine is delighted to also be involved as we display a collection of paintings by three contemporary Scottish Borders-based artists: Fiona Millar, Alan Richmond and Moy Mackay. All are part of a special festival Art Trail, with maps available from participating venues, including the Eastgate Theatre.

Once again, this year’s festival also offers an exciting mix of indoor performances and workshops, plus a chance to explore the rich history, architecture, nature and landscape of Peebles through an expanded programme of walks and tours. Even locals learn a thing or two on these!

The programme begins on Saturday (26 Aug) with a fascinating stroll that reveals the stories behind the many different bridges that can be found in Peebles today. Other highlights include a look at the railway heritage of Peebles, some of the town’s hidden gardens and green spaces, a tour of L. Grandison & Sons’ treasure trove of a plaster workshop, plus a trip up to Soonhope Burn to learn more about the community of colourful huts that straddle the glen.

Ever eclectic, the festival also sees the Tweeddale Society Festival Lecture by eminent Professor Sir Ian Wilmut (of Dolly the Sheep fame), and Music in Peebles’ 70th anniversary concert, featuring Michael Collins and the Heath Quartet. And this Sunday (27 Aug) look out for hundreds of energetic lip-syncers who will take part in one of the biggest community film projects ever seen in the Borders as a huge flash mob films a music video to Dancing in the Street.

Throw in top-class live music from the glamorous Swingcats and Rachel Hair Trio, thought-provoking new drama from Dogstar Theatre Company, plus the wildly-entertaining Small Town Sarsaparilla and we reckon Peebles more than gives Edinburgh a run for its money!

Photograph: Rich Rowe

Further info

The 2017 Creative Peebles Festival runs from 25 August to 3 September. For much more on the Open Galleries Evening, plus the wider festival, visit www.creativepeeblesfestival.co.uk

There will be mud …

With a range of high-spec trail centres plus an almost infinite number of natural trails, Scotland is a major destination on the world mountain biking stage. And here in Peebles, we’re lucky to live, work and play in one of the biggest mountain biking hotspots of all … an area that looks set to only get hotter for those with a love of hurtling around on two wheels.

Just take a look at all the mountain biking events that take place locally. This coming weekend (19-20 Aug) sees the 2017 Whyte Endura Scottish Open Champs, which is due to finish off this year’s TweedLove season in style. Featuring a full complement of 500 riders, the event has become something of a UK enduro classic, with pro athletes mixing it up with mere mortals to be crowned King and Queen of the Hill.

A wonderfully inclusive discipline in mountain biking, enduro is essentially a stage-race format where riders transfer – often riding together with buddies – between a series of timed downhill sections. Although the big riders are very much in it to win it, enduro is a fun, friendly and hugely sociable way of racing bikes.

This year’s Scottish Open Champs sees a new event base just down the road in Innerleithen, with race stages on both the Caberston and Traquair sides of the valley. And for those who have already competed in two other events earlier in the year as part of the TweedLove Triple Crown Enduro, it’s a chance to score some serious bragging rights. The fact that the rather brilliant Innerleithen Music Festival is also on this weekend is even more of a bonus for spectators and riders alike.

For visiting riders, the event offers a chance to sample just a small part of the vast network of trails found locally – a network that continues to grow and grow. While ‘unofficial’ trails continue to be created high in the forests all around, our two local trail centres at Innerleithen and Glentress are also set for an upgrade.

As part of a multi-million pound plan to upgrade facilities at Glentress, Forest Enterprise Scotland recently revealed that more than £1 million will be spent on around 16km of new trails, including a larger skills area, a range of taster trails, additional descents linking existing trails, plus Enduro-style sections. Meanwhile, headed by a new Tweed Valley Mountain Biking Development Coordinator, consultations are taking place on how best to develop the trails at Innerleithen. Exciting times!

If you haven’t yet tried mountain biking, and are not sure what all the fuss is about, then you really need to give it a shot. And there’s certainly no better place to come than right here in the Tweed Valley – an area widely regarded as Scotland’s premier mountain biking destination.

Photography: Ian Linton

Further info
This year’s Whyte Endura Scottish Open Champs takes place on 19-20 August, with an event base in nearby Innerleithen. If not competing, head along to some of the many viewing points for a taste of the action. For much more on the event, plus the huge range of trails to be enjoyed locally, check out this race video from last year, https://vimeo.com/180707134

Innerleithen Music Festival

If, like us, you are a fan of folk and traditional music, then you really must get along to the Innerleithen Music Festival later this month (18-20 August). Now in its 15th year, the festival has long showcased some of the finest musicians working in Scotland today alongside less well-known names from what is an incredibly vibrant music scene locally.   To book a room please BOOK online.

This year’s festival sees a slight change of emphasis with a greater focus on smaller-scale events and a wider variety of entertainment, including taster music sessions, musical theatre and dance, singing workshops and local walks.

It’s still very much about great music though with some real treats in store over the weekend. The headline gig on Saturday 19 Aug sees a brilliant night of entertainment with outstanding musicians from local music school Nomad Beat alongside professional young musicians, all of whom are graduates in traditional music from the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow. One of the biggest draws on the night will be Siobhan Miller, twice winner of the Scots Singer of the Year at the Trad Music Awards.

Look out too for the ever popular Live and Local sessions at Innerleithen’s Vale Club which start early and end late. Friday night (18 Aug) includes a performance by Jenny Biddle, a chart-topping indie folk/blues songsmith all the way from Melbourne. The Aussie singer – described as a kind of Tracy Chapman/Joni Mitchell/Ani Difranco love-child – is now based in Scotland and celebrating the imminent release of her sixth album, Wild & Free.

Meanwhile, Saturday night includes a much-anticipated appearance by The Dirty Beggars – a (mostly) local five-piece that is tearing up the bluegrass scene on both sides of the Atlantic. Touring widely, from Nashville to Glasgow, the band has performed together with such luminaries as Julie Fowlis, The Staves, Rura and many others.

Throw in more than 20 other acts and events, plus lively local crowds who love their music and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more buzzing weekend anywhere in the Borders this summer!

Further info

This year’s Innerleithen Music Festival runs from 18-20 August at venues around the town. For much more on the festival, including ticket sales, visit http://innerleithenmusicfestival.org

Photograph: Rachel Sermanni performing at the 2016 Innerleithen Music Festival. Photo: IMF

Summer events extravaganza!

It’s that time of year when it feels as if there is a major event taking place almost every day here in the Tweed Valley and adjoining Edinburgh. It’s certainly a perfect time to visit and enjoy the sheer variety of events, shows and festivals that take place in the area.

It’s not easy keeping track of them all, but we’ll try to give you a flavour of what’s coming up, from the biggest arts festival on the planet to country shows, traditional music, high-octane mountain bike action and more!

When it comes to festivals they don’t come much bigger than the stupendous Edinburgh Military Tattoo (4-26 Aug) and the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe (5-29 Aug). With both taking place just 20 or so miles up the road, we’d highly recommend staying with us here in Peebles and travelling into and out of Edinburgh each day by bus … it’s MUCH less expensive and considerably more relaxing!

But wonderful as they are, August is not just about the incredible Edinburgh festivals. There’s also a whole range of smaller but equally appealing events right here on our doorstep. Next month sees the great and good of the farming world descend on Nether Horsburgh for the always entertaining Peebles Agricultural Show (12 Aug), while some of Scotland’s finest traditional musicians play at the Innerleithen Music Festival a week later (more on that in a separate blog).

Look out too for top class mountain bike racing at the Whyte Scottish Open Champs Enduro (19-20 Aug) as riders from near and far look to be crowned King and Queen of the Hill. Elsewhere, stimulating mind rather than body, Beyond Borders International Festival of Literature and Thought at Traquair House (26-27 Aug) promises plenty of stirring debate as some of the world’s leading thinkers discuss pressing issues of the day.

And don’t forget this year’s Creative Peebles Festival (25 Aug-3 Sept) – a celebration of the many artists, musicians, poets, film-makers and craftspeople found in this small but incredibly creative town of ours. As well as indoor performances and workshops, there are also opportunities to explore the fascinating history, architecture, nature and landscape of Peebles and around through a series of talks, walks and tours.

It’s going to be quite a summer … we hope you can come and be a part of it!  To BOOK on our Summer Special Offer either call us on 01721 720892; send us an Email or Book Online

Photograph: Rich Rowe

Walk this way

We’re very excited about the launch this week of the programme for the 2017 Scottish Borders Walking Festival, which this year we are delighted to say will focus on the wonderfully varied walking found around Peebles and the wider Tweed Valley.

Now in its 23rd year, it is Scotland’s longest established walking festival, and one of the biggest all-abilities events of its kind in the UK. Overseen by Scottish Borders Council, the festival moves around the area on an annual basis, with the programme of events organised each year by different Borders’ communities.

This year’s festival, which runs from 3-9 September, has some real treats in store. Walkers can choose from a range of routes from easy to strenuous that between them explore the many natural riches of the area. From gentle riverside strolls to serious treks into high hill ground, including a variety of Donalds (hills above 2,000ft), there is something for everyone. Many of the routes make use of the ancient drove roads that criss-cross the hills in these parts.

The bulk of the walks depart from Peebles, exploring local gems such as Glensax, Gypsy Glen, Cademuir and the John Buchan Way, although the festival also steps further afield to include routes by Drumelzier, Stobo, Tweedsmuir, Eddleston, Clovenfords, plus sections of the Southern Upland Way.

This year’s festival is crammed full of tempting options, but here are three of our favourites in ascending order of difficulty:

  • Tweed Valley Railway Path, Glentress Circular & Janet’s Brae (6.5 miles/10.5kms). A delightful riverside and forest walk with plenty of historical and cultural interest
  • Cademuir Hill Circular and River Tweed (10 miles/16kms). Wildlife, history and stunning views
  • The Glensax Horseshoe via Dun Rig and Glenrath Heights (15.5 miles/25kms). An exhilarating, full-day expedition that includes three Donalds.

All walks are led by the likes of Tweeddale Ramblers, Biggar Ramblers, council rangers and the Innerleithen Walking Group, so there will be plenty of local knowledge shared along the way. Look out too for an accompanying programme of evening social events – an ideal way to round off a great day on the hill!

Further info

The Tesco Bank Tour O’ the Borders, a closed road sportive event starting and finishing in Peebles, will be held on Sunday 3 Sept, which means there will be some pressure on accommodation around the opening weekend of the festival. So, best book early!

For further details, visit Scottish Borders Walking Festival

Photography: On the John Buchan Way, Rich Rowe

Seven of the Best

It’s only early March and we’ve already had a host of fantastic events here in the Tweed Valley – as those who have enjoyed the Peebles Outdoor Film Festival, Bowhill Duathlon and the brand new Glentress Trail Marathon last weekend will testify.

And the events just keep on coming over the weeks and months ahead, with something for every age and interest. Here are a few very good reasons to come and join us in the Tweed Valley during the first half of the year:

The Mighty Deerstalker, 11 March

Billed as the UK’s biggest night race, the Mighty Deerstalker (pictured) is a joyously muddy romp through the Borders countryside, starting and finishing at lovely Traquair House. Runners can choose from the half stalker 5km route (actually quite a bit longer), or the full stalker 10km route (actually A LOT longer, much of it in darkness). Dressing up is crucial – expect plenty of tweed, fake antlers and deerstalker hats – while the routes feature a range of sometimes bewildering obstacles. Many first-time entrants will never have seen the like! And for those with any energy left, the after party (The Mighty Beerstalker) is pretty good too. Check out a recent review of the event in the Guardian here.

Whyte Bikes Vallelujah Enduro 2017, 25-26 March

If running up hills and through rivers in the dark is not your thing (and let’s be honest, it’s not for everyone), then come and enjoy riding some of the best mountain bike enduro tracks anywhere in the UK. The trails used for the event are usually kept under wraps until the big day but rest assured the stages will provide a fantastic riding experience. The weather has ensured that the past two years were somewhat more adventurous than anticipated, so maybe this year we’ll see dry, dusty trails and plenty of sunshine. Or perhaps not.

Melrose 7s, 8 April

Rugby Sevens has come a long way since the first ever tournament was played in Melrose in 1883. The game is now played on a global stage and is testimony to its founder in the Scottish Borders town, Ned Haig. This year marks the 126th playing of an extended tournament with guest teams coming from near and far. Previous years have included guest teams from Randwick and Manly (Australia), Bay of Plenty (New Zealand), University of Free State and Stellenbosch (South Africa), as well as across Europe. The town of Melrose takes on a carnival atmosphere with the day a main social date in the sporting calendar.

Easter fun, Bowhill Estate & Traquair House, 16 April

Head to the glorious Bowhill Estate for some Easter family fun. Win a small egg in the Easter trail, leap like a lamb on the bouncy castle, and eggs-tend your knowledge of Bowhill on a House tour. New for this year: book onto a trailer tour to see the lambs leaping and the estate springing into action. There’s also plenty of fun to be had at the great Easter Eggstravaganza at Traquair House. Expect the biggest egg hunt in the Borders and lots of fun activities all day.

Orbea Borders Bike Festival 2017, 14 May

One day, two great bike races. Choose from the Selkirk MTB Marathon – the most popular and perhaps challenging mountain bike marathon course in the UK – and the Selkirk MTB Raid, which sits somewhere between old-school marathon and enduro riding. Look out too for the Selkirk Ultra trail run the day before (Sat 13 May).

Ruff Dugger Traquair Estate, 20 May

Come and take part in Scotland’s leading obstacle/mud/trail run for runners with their dogs in the beautiful surroundings of the Traquair Estate. With fun, technical routes, and plenty of obstacles to negotiate, it’s a test of determination and team work between owner and dog. You’ll also get very wet and muddy. Run solo or as a pair. Two routes for different age groups, approx 5k (for ages 15+) and approx 2k (ages 7-14).

TweedLove Bike Festival, 26 May – 11 June

Quite simply the biggest, friendliest bike festival in the UK with a fortnight of exhilarating events around the Tweed Valley, and something for every age and ability of rider. Includes the Shimano TweedLove International Enduro race weekend (9-11 June). Look out too for the brand new G-Form Enjoyro (for those looking for a first taste of Enduro racing) on 9 June, plus the Glentress 11 TweedLove Trail Run (26 May).

And that’s just scratching the surface! For much more on what’s happening throughout the Tweed Valley in 2017, please keep an eye on our local events page.

Photograph: Rich Rowe

Peebles Outdoor Film Festival

Lights, camera and LOTS of action

Now in its third year, the Peebles Outdoor Film Festival at the Eastgate Theatre is fast establishing itself as another major annual event here in Peebles – with the Tontine delighted to be heavily involved in the 2017 festival later in the month.

Starting on the evening of Friday 27 January and running through to the evening of Sunday 29 January, the 2017 festival sees a dazzling line-up of speakers and adventure films scheduled across five themed sessions covering everything from ice diving, mountain biking and surfing to climbing, bikepacking and slack-lining.

Special appearances by mountain biking World Champion Tracy Moseley, extreme adventurer and ultra-triathlete Sean Conway, record-breaking fell runner Nicky Spinks, and Emmy-award-winning adventure cameraman Keith Partridge are among the many highlights over the weekend.

But as well as big name speakers and a ‘best of the best’ selection of adventure films from around the world, the festival also celebrates some of the inspirational local figures who have made a name for themselves across a range of sports. The Tontine is supporting the three main ‘local hero’ sessions, which run at 5pm on each day of the festival.

The fun starts with an appearance by pioneering mountain biker and celebrated local rider Crawford Carrick-Anderson on the opening Friday. In his presentation, Crawfy reflects on a hugely accomplished sporting life that began with skiing before two wheels took over – with his deafness only adding to the scale of his accomplishments.

On Saturday, it’s the turn of bikepacker and adventurer Ed Shoote to talk about his obsession with exploring far-flung places on two wheels. In what will be a visual feast of a presentation, Ed explains how he got into lightweight touring and shares stories from some of his most recent trips to Iceland, Tibet and right here in Scotland.

There’s another treat in store for audiences on the final Sunday when young Scottish climbing sensation Greg Boswell talks about his winter climbing expeditions around the globe. A speaker in hot demand – he comes fresh from entertaining packed auditoriums at last year’s Dundee and Kendal Mountain Festivals – Greg has plenty of riotous stories up his sleeve, including that of a now infamous altercation with a grizzly bear while climbing in the Canadian Rockies last year.

We hope you will join us for what promises to be a wonderfully wild weekend!

Further info

The Tontine is supporting the three main local hero sessions at this year’s Peebles Outdoor Film Festival:

Silent Speed – Crawford Carrick-Anderson, 5pm, Fri 27 Jan

Ride Fast, Travel Far – Ed Shoote, 5pm, Sat 28 Jan

When Climbing Gets Grizzly – Greg Boswell, 5pm, Sun 29 Jan

Tickets £5, £3 schoolchildren, available now from Box Office 01721 725777, or online

www.eastgatearts.com

Do also check out the full festival programme here:

http://www.eastgatearts.com/sites/default/files/Peebles%20Outdoor%20Film%20Festival_%202017.pdf

Photography: Crawford Carrick-Anderson; Ed Shoote; Greg Boswell