Tweed Valley Tunnel Trail Run
Tunnel of love (and light)
We’re getting very excited about a brand new event coming to Peebles on Sat 1 Oct. The Tweed Valley Tunnel Trail Run is the latest brainchild from the team behind the TweedLove Bike Festival and Tour o The Borders – one that sees them step out of the saddle to embrace two legs rather than two wheels.
Now officially sold out, the event takes 450 runners on an autumnal journey along riverside paths, through gorgeous mixed woodland, and out into the hills before diving into the Neidpath Tunnel – a 600m-long disused railway tunnel that will be rigged up with all sorts of special lighting effects.
Billed as suitable for seasoned trail runners or complete beginners, the event sees runners choose from two distances: approximately 10k and 20k, all off-road. Both courses start and finish in Peebles’ beautiful Hay Lodge Park.
But while hosting a trail run may be a departure for a team best known for bike events, it’s likely to appeal to many of the same people. “We’ve been thinking about this for a while, as a lot of people ride and run locally,” explains event organiser Neil Dalgleish. “There’s such an active community here.
“The idea of putting together some kind of trail run was too good not to explore further, so we’ve tried to create a route that really focuses on the natural beauty all around, particularly now with the autumn colours. And, of course, the tunnel just adds another twist!”
Ah yes, the tunnel. Familiar to those who regularly walk in South Park Wood above the Neidpath Viaduct, it’s a legacy of the old Symington Biggar & Broughton Railway. The tunnel opened in 1864 and remained operational until 1954, although the passenger service ended a few years earlier.
As can be imagined, there are many interesting stories attached to it, not least when in the early part of the 20th century the Nobel-prize-winning scientist CTR Wilson used the tunnel to conduct experiments with his cloud chamber to explore the existence of cosmic radiation. The line also saw heavy traffic during World War Two and is rumoured to have once provided shelter for the Royal Train.
After its closure to trains, the tunnel was used by the Wemyss & March Estate, which owns the surrounding woodland, for the transport of timber.
The tunnel is usually dark, dank and just a little bit spooky, but not next weekend. Working together with Black Light, one of Scotland’s leading technical lighting creators known for its work at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens, the tunnel will be completely transformed. With the discovery that several species of bat roost at each end of the tunnel, the lighting has been carefully arranged to comply with guidance from Scottish Natural Heritage.
“The tunnel is 600m long and on a curve so when you’re in the middle, you can’t see either end,” says Neil. “The lighting plan we have in place will make running through it a unique and impressive experience!”
Although entries have now closed, why not head to Hay Lodge Park next Saturday, or even out on the course to cheer on the runners – a great excuse to also enjoy the wonderful autumn colours that are just starting to reveal themselves.
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The Tweed Valley Tunnel Trail Run is on Sat 1 Oct (start times from 10am). For much more, visitwww.tunneltrailrun.com
Photography: Ian Linton