Stand almost anywhere in Peebles and there is a sense of being embraced by the surrounding hills – a landscape that fires the imagination not just of mountain bikers, but also runners who love to explore trails away from tarmac and traffic.
Trail running has an appeal that extends beyond just the challenge of the actual routes (which can be considerable!). For many, running off-road, whether on forest tracks, old drove roads or remote footpaths, is about being immersed in wonderful scenery, soaking up everything the landscape has to offer.
Here in Peebles, we are lucky to live in a place that offers a never-ending supply of routes right from the centre of town – no car keys required. It’s no surprise then that the trail running scene is so vibrant; from the Pink Panters, a women’s running group that heads out for fun and fitness, to more serious hill racers in the Moorfoot Runners club, locals just can’t get enough of these hills.
All will have personal favourites, but there are brilliant trails to explore in all directions – some short and sharp, others long but more leisurely. We love the way-marked trails at Cademuir Forest, the tough route up through Gypsy Glen onto Kailzie Hill and beyond, plus the circuit of lovely Venlaw Hill, taking in the old Shieldgreen Centre and the huts alongside Soonhope Burn. All offer great running, local history, interesting wildlife, and of course spectacular views over Peebles and the Tweed Valley.
For visitors, a great introduction to the area is the Tweed Circuit, a way-marked and surprisingly varied route that follows the river out of Peebles to Lyne Station before returning via Manor Sware. Author and passionate trail runner Susie Allison was so enamoured with the route (and running in the Borders generally!) that she included it in the recently-published Scottish Trail Running, an excellent guidebook that pulls together 70 of the very best trail runs in Scotland.
“Rolling hills, green pastures and miles of forest trails make the Borders a fantastic destination for off-road runners,” says Susie. “There is something here for everyone: from lung-busting hill climbs with panoramic views to gentle potters along the banks of lazily meandering rivers.”
Susie says that researching running routes in the Borders was one of the most enjoyable phases of writing her book. “Time and again, local runners suggested routes that turned out to be superb trails which I shared only with sheep, butterflies and, most memorably, a kingfisher. For me, seeing this streak of blue was the highlight of running the Tweed Circuit. The trail quickly leaves the town behind and follows the river through pretty countryside. As soon as I finished my run, I knew that the Tweed Circuit was exactly the sort of route I wanted to include in the book.”
But really the choice is yours, with the only limitations being your imagination and the amount of puff in your lungs. Please ask us for route tips. We’d be happy to point you in the right direction!