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Judging by the number of Halloween events that take place locally at this time of year, it’s fair to say that we’ve more than embraced this spooky annual celebration here in the Tweed Valley.
Observed on 31 October the world over, our now Americanised version of All Hallows’ Evening (to give Halloween its full name) is actually believed to have originated in Celtic Britain, with subsequent adaptations based on pagan and Christian beliefs.
Today, we carve pumpkins (a nod to the Gaels who carved turnips to ward off evil spirits), dress up in all sorts of scary costumes (a tradition linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain which marks the end of harvest time), children go guising (the first ‘trick or treat’ is said to date back to the US in the 1920s), and we play a range of crazy Halloween games (usually involving industrial quantities of sugar).
Locally, Halloween is a perfect opportunity for some of the area’s top historic attractions to reveal ghoulish tales from days gone by. This weekend, nearby Traquair – reputedly the oldest inhabited house in Scotland – reveals its sinister secrets on a range of ghostly guided tours that tell all about its past inhabitants. Younger visitors are also catered for when Traquair opens its doors for the always popular Halloween Family Fun Day. Expect magic shows, ghost stories in the woods, witch and wizard workshops, traditional Halloween games and more.
Elsewhere, at beautiful Bowhill near Selkirk, there are special guided Halloween ghost walks in the impressive grounds, plus a Halloween Zombie Jog – a 5k or one-mile Halloween-themed run around the estate. Great fun! And don’t forget the fantastical surroundings of Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, which is hosting a Halloween dinner at its Ochiltrees Restaurant. The spooky dinner will highlight Scott’s fascination with the darker aspects of Scotland’s history.
Of course, visitors with a love of things that go bump in the night can also stay right here at the Tontine. Our soup may not have eyeballs floating in it, but we can assure you our food and hospitality is scarily good.
Have a wonderful Halloween wherever you choose to spend it!
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.
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