Play Parks, Woodland Walks, Soft Play, Cinema, Glamping and a fun filled weekend in the Scottish Borders.
I have always found there to be something special about the southern part of Scotland that is the Scottish Borders. I think it may be the rolling hills and open roads, which reminds me of my home country Denmark.
I have also found the local history and culture of great interest and the people often have a connection with or a story to tell about their Nordic cousins, which for me really makes the welcome even warmer!
This region boasts a number of racing legends including Jimmie Guthrie and Jim Clarke, find out more about the newly re-opened Jim Clarke Museum following Neil’s visit. Coming from a family of motor bike lovers and also the fact that Denmark is a country that loves rallies and orienteering car races around the countryside, this is of great interest to me
My wife, three year old daughter, baby son and I were invited to join the Scotlanders on a Live Borders campaign of family adventures in the Scottish Borders. We enjoyed a leisurely weekend where we took our time checking out various parks and fun filled activities suitable for families.
The region we visited including Jedburgh and Hawick is easily reached not only from Edinburgh which is under an hour away, but also from the likes of Northumberland and Newcastle.
We set off from Edinburgh on a Saturday morning and headed for the Scottish Borders.
Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre and Park
This was or first stop and is nestled in the Borders just off the A68 near Jedburgh. The play park has undergone a major refurbishment and is ideal for kids of all ages with 50 different activities to try out. The playground is very inclusive and contains the only Wheelchair swing in the Borders, alongside a number of different sensory activities. If you or your little ones are brave enough, you’ll also find two very tall tube slides, which form part of a Jedburgh Abbey inspired centrepiece.
Within the Estate you’ll also find a selection of walks of varying lengths, including a section of the St Cuthbert’s Way and Abbeys Way, with ample free parking, try out the car park beside the farm entrance before going to the overflow car park.
The visitor centre contains the most wonderful little café and courtyard, with amazing local produce such as seafood from Eyemouth, meats from a local butcher in Hawick, coffee ground in Selkirk and a great selection of home baking. The cafe caters well for families with good healthy choices for the kids too. For rainy days you will find a well kitted out play room above the shop and Cafe.
Heart of Hawick
Next up was an afternoon and early evening at the Heart of Hawick, which as the name suggests lies in the centre of the town of Hawick. This complex consists of three derelict buildings which have been transformed to provide cultural experiences for locals and visitors alike.
The venue contains a lovely bustling café, which sits on the river bank, where you can grab a seat by the window to enjoy the peaceful view of the world going by and the river flowing beneath your feet. They have recently started kids activities such as Pizza making and Ice cream Sundae decorating. We tried out the pizza making which was a real treat for my daughter as she loves helping out in the kitchen.
Here you will also find Hawick’s only cinema, with a cosy 108 seat auditorium showing a wide variety of films and live theatre. We had the pleasure of watching the new Lion King movie, which was the kids first cinema experience.
In the evening we enjoyed a meal in the busy restaurant accompanied by live music from Becc and Forth
Borders Textile Towerhouse
As Hawick’s oldest building, the Towerhouse dates back to mid-1500s. It lies next door to the Heart of Hawick and we managed to squeeze in a quick visit, which turned out to be a great decision. We met Diane who was fantastic and straight away showed our daughter a game they were doing for kids, finding little knitted sheep around the exhibitions. This is a great way to get your kids to walk through the museum and still achieve something. If they find all the sheep a small reward awaits at the end. For the grown-ups this is a fascinating museum walking you through the long standing history of the textile industry in Hawick and the Scottish Borders.
Ruberslaw Wild Woods Camping
For our accommodation, we stayed in a luxurious glamping pod near Denholm. This safari tent was more like a lodge, but with the beauty of its remote location from the main hub and no mains power, you can literally switch off! The whole site sits within a working farm and 500 acres of land, with options for an array of walks or runs and the village of Denholm is only a short walk from many of the tents and main hub. In Denholm you will find a number of small cafes and restaurants for your lunch, dinner or just a little refreshment to keep you going. If you are up for a slightly longer walk, why not head up Rubers Law.
We stayed in the Roe Deer Rest tent, which is nestled amongst the trees at the top of the hill and about 10 minutes drive off-road from the main hub. You are offered a complimentary transfer to and from your tent, unless you of course want to enjoy the walk!
The tent is well kitted out and includes a gas stove and gas heater. It comes with two rooms, a very comfortable double bed and bunk beds, perfect for families or couples alike! An outdoor composting toilet and kitchen sink gives the glamping experience top marks.
As the evening closes in, you will find several paraffin lights and a few battery driven lamps for a bit of light. This for me is true ‘Hygge’ which is an expression often used back in Denmark for when you light candles, slow down and just relax, which is exactly what we did during our stay at Ruberslaw.
In the morning we enjoyed a lovely breakfast hamper, which was in the tent on arrival and kept in the cool box overnight. It contained local produce such a sausages and bacon, freshly pressed apple juice from the farm, preserves jam from a local farm and rolls from the baker in the next village. This can all be prepared in the well kitted out kitchen. This in not included and will need to be pre-ordered before your arrival.
By the main hub there are numerous tent pitches, showers, a walled garden, including original green houses which can be accessed during your stay. You will also find a selection of games and activities for all the family. To find out more about what they offer, make sure to check out Ruberslaw
Teviotdale Leisure Centre
We were lucky enough to have a few hours here on the Sunday morning. As we arrived, my daughter and I headed straight for the pool and with a interconnecting kids pool and regular pool, it works really well for families. For the bigger kids (like me) there is also a good size water slide. It contains plenty of family changing facilities, making it a great experience using the pool.
The most exciting part for my daughter was the new three story soft play, which even I had the pleasure of trying out. And with no time limit it certainly is a great place for the little ones to burn off some energy!
I had the opportunity to see their gym and studio, which have both recently been upgraded and focus heavily on being inclusive for all abilities and strengths. It was great to see Dan the duty manager’s passion for promoting their facilities to people of all ages and backgrounds.
Within the centre you will find a good family café, as with all Live Borders venues it caters well for kids of all ages. Healthy and interesting selection of lunches and snacks are available. If you want to let your little ones use the soft play, there is seating and tables where you can chill out while supervising them. Within the café there is a wonderful piece of art, Hawick’s History in Pictures, which is absolutely fascinating and a great way to showcase its historic location.
This was our last stop and a local recommended we park by the Rugby Club due to limited parking onsite. From there its a short stroll across the bridge, which leads right into Wilton Lodge Park beside the cafe and play area. Adjacent to this you will find a beautiful 18th century mansion which houses the Hawick Museum.
The museum had a number of fascinating exhibitions and art displays, such as the Jimmie Guthrie and Steve Hislop exhibitions which really do showcase the lives and achievements of two of Hawick’s motorcycle champions, making the museum a real magnet for motorbike enthusiasts. There are also a number of activities for younger children and toddlers to keep them entertained. If you are left with more time, head for the fantastic outdoor play area within the park. We didn’t get a chance to try it out on this occasion, but it looks like another great facility which has recently been upgraded.
Having the play area, cafe and Hawick Museum within the park, it lends itself perfectly for a day out if you are staying in Hawick or elsewhere within the region.
Basically, slow down and go to the Scottish Borders to find a few hidden gems for your next family adventures!
This weekend we had been invited on a paid for campaign by Live Borders, which is a leisure, sport and cultural trust for the Scottish Borders, and all its partners to visit and experience their region. A big thanks goes to them all individually for making us feel welcome and making sure we all made the most of our weekend in the Scottish Borders.
Our weekend was in collaboration with the Scotlanders travel bloggers. Therefore make sure to also check out their posts on; Neil’s Cultural experiences Things to do in the Scottish Borders, David Castles and Historic Sites
All opinions and photos are my own, unless otherwise stated. When you next visit share your stories and photos using #LiveBorders #ScottishBorders and @LiveBorders – You can also follow me along on our adventures around Scotland and beyond on @kimkjaerside on Twitter and Instagram