For my final day of touring Southern Scotland with Barbour, I suggested we head east from Ayrshire and finish our adventure with a visit to Peebles, a Royal Burgh and historic market town in the Scottish Borders.
Peebles seemed a fitting place to end our journey as it offers a little bit of everything and showcases all that is great about Southern Scotland in one location.
Its position straddling the River Tweed ensures pretty scenery, independent shops and galleries line the main streets, the Old Town provides some history and Glentress Forest is the ideal place to enjoy some outdoor activities. All this and it's only 23 miles south of Edinburgh!
Before reaching Peebles itself, we just had to include a stop at the nearby Neidpath Castle, which is easy to miss if you don't know it's there. If you are lucky enough to get a parking place at the adjacent lay-by, it is well worth pulling over to investigate the idyllic setting of this historic building.
Dating mostly to the 14th Century, it is privately owned by the current Earl of Wemyss. Although it is not open to the public, there are trails along the River Tweed that offer photogenic views of the castle and we decided to follow a path that snaked along the picturesque riverbank towards the eerie Neidpath Tunnel.
A shallow spot in the River Tweed also offered a fun opportunity to try out my new Barbour wellies. I can confirm that they kept my feet nice and dry!
Image Credit - Sean Elliott Photography for Barbour
We continued on the trail over the Neidpath Viaduct, a series of eight stone arches that once formed part of the Caledonian Railway over the River Tweed.
Our walk ended at the ominous mouth of the abandoned Neidpath railway tunnel because quite frankly none of us were brave enough to walk more than a few feet into complete darkness. If you search online there are some pretty cool photos of the inside of the tunnel, taken by people much more fearless/crazy than us!
After our morning walk which turned out to be a bit more strenuous than we intended when we had to scrabble up the sheer side of a hill to get back to the car, we all agreed that an energy boost was required before we continued with our exploration. When I say energy boost on my travel blog, you may notice that it usually involves eating cake of some sort and CocoaBlack in Peebles town centre takes the concept of a sweet treat to a whole other level.
Owned by Ruth Hinks, CocoaBlack is filled with luxury chocolates, cakes and patisseries all hand crafted by Ruth and her team of chocolatiers and pastry chefs. The colourful designs and unusual flavourings have even attracted Royalty to the premises although it may also be something to do with Ruth being a UK World Chocolate Master and recognised as one of the top 5 chocolatiers in the world.
You can even learn some skills from Ruth herself at one of her workshops in the chocolate and pastry school situated upstairs from the coffee shop. This is where Prince Edward perfected his chocolate truffle rolling skills so you know you are being taught by the best!
After a wee rest if was time to take a stroll around Peebles town centre and work off some of our mid morning indulgences. It was nice to have time to just browse the shops and explore some interesting places along the way.
Whenever I see a 'Visitors Welcome' sign outside a church, you can pretty much guarantee I'll make my way straight in to discover what architectural gems are hiding behind the wooden door. This is how we found ourselves exploring the beautiful interior of the Old Parish Church of Peebles, with branches of light illuminating the magnificent space and creating a magical effect as sunshine beamed through the large windows.
The Gothic style church was constructed between 1885 and 1887, although It includes some features from an earlier parish church built on the site in 1784. Hard to miss as it dominates the west end of the High Street, it is definitely worth popping in.
I do love a bit of street art and the Peebles Mural has transformed a once bare wall in to an impressive piece of public art. Situated in a courtyard just off the High Street, local artist Michael Jessing, has painted a 30 ft wide by 8 ft high mural depicting the town’s cultural history from the 1200s, when it became a Royal Burgh under King David, right up to the modern-day with its tourists and mountain bikers.
A bit of a hidden gem, I'm not sure the town makes the most of promoting the mural which is a pretty detailed piece and a novel way of telling the story of Peebles.
Peebles is full of hidden spaces and an archway leading from the High Street will take you to a courtyard featuring a decorative War Memorial, complete with ornamental flower beds. The surrounding buildings have interesting historical details and this is a peaceful area to sit and contemplate away from the hustle and bustle.
After having so much fun in Galloway Forest Park on our visit to Kirkcudbright, we decided that Glentress Forest on the outskirts of Peebles would be the perfect place to finish off our Southern Scotland tour. A mecca for mountain bikers and tree top adventurers, a visit to Glentress offers plenty of options for an adrenaline fuelled experience if a walk in the forest is not exhilarating enough for you. On my previous visit here I enjoyed taking on the Go Ape assault course but after 4 days packed full of exploring we were all quite happy for once to just enjoy the scenery without breaking too much of a sweat!
Image Credit - Sean Elliott Photography for Barbour
Standing at one of the viewpoints in Glentress Forest, we enjoyed one last sweeping vista across the rolling hills of Southern Scotland. It had been the most epic 4 day adventure; for Barbour it was a chance to connect with their heritage; for me it was a chance to showcase some of my favourite places. For both of us, it was an opportunity to interweave both our passions on a joint journey and share Southern Scotland with the world.
Original Barbour Tartan Collection - Autumn/Winter 16
Touring the South of Scotland was not only about connecting with the heritage of Barbour, but also about celebrating the launch of their Original Barbour Tartan Collection for Autumn/Winter 16. I chose items from the collection for our tour of Southern Scotland and for our visit to Peebles I opted for the Barbour Eday Wool Jacket (a stylish autumn coat), a Barbour Arran Tunic (simple and versatile), Barbour Essential Slim Trousers (just love these!) and Barbour Jarrow Wellingtons (love the tartan detail on the back).
Credit for previous 3 images - Sean Elliott Photography for Barbour
You can read about day 1 of my tour with Barbour when we visited the 'Food Town' of Castle Douglas here, day 2 when we explored the 'Artists' Town' of Kirkcudbright here and day 3 when we explore Alloway, the birthplace of Robert Burns here.
You can read the Barbour blog about our day here.
My tour of Southern Scotland was in collaboration with Barbour, however as always, all opinions and experiences are my own.
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