The Scottish Borders has a number of towns and villages where you can stay and use as a base to discover the area. The following provides an overview of the towns and the cycling routes available from each of them.
Coldstream forms the natural boundary between Scotland and England. Once a rival to Gretna for runaway marriages, the town is best known as the birthplace of the Coldstream Guards. The Borderloop and the Coast and Castles route pass Coldstream and can be visited as part of your trip to the Scottish Borders.
Duns is home to the Jim Clark Room, a museum dedicated to the life of twice world motor racing champion. It is also home to Manderston House, a supreme country house of Edwardian House and includes the only silver staircase in the world. The Borderloop passes through Duns and you can also explore the area with four local routes. These local routes range from 4 – 16 miles and take in Edrom, Swinton, Abbey St Bathans and Longformacus.
Eyemouth lies a mere five miles north of the Border with England, where the mouth of the river Eye provides a natural harbour as well as an obvious inspiration for the town’s name. Nearby St Abbs is very popular with divers and at St Abbs Nature Reserve, you can see lots of different bird species. The coastal waters are unusually clear and home to spectacular underwater scenery and marine life, making it one of the top dive destinations in Europe. The Borderloop passes through the town and there are also four shorter routes for you to explore the area. These routes range from 8 – 26 miles and visit Coldingham, St Abbs Head, Burnmouth, Grantshouse and the Scottish Palladian mansion, Paxton House.
Galashiels lies very much at the heart of the Borders region and is historically the centre of the tweed industry. Sitting on the A7, one of the main routes through the Borders, linking Edinburgh with Carlisle, Galashiels has a direct route to the other major towns in the area. The 250 mile Borderloop passes nearby and the Coast and Castles and the Tweed Cycle Route both pass through this town. Bike hire, sales and repair can all be found in the town centre.
The biggest Borders town is Hawick which is famous for its fine quality knitwear including cashmere. ‘The Horse’ at the end of the High Street is the 1514 memorial which commemorates the victory of local youths over English invaders at nearby Hornshole in 1514, barely a year after the disaster at Flodden. The 250 mile Borderloop route passes through Hawick and the town is a possible start and finish point for the Southern Borders Loop which also visits Newcastleton. Furthermore there are also four shorter cycling trails ranging from 7 – 19 miles in distance and taking in Stobs, Roberton and Denholm. Bike hire and support services are available in the town centre.
Innerleithen is home to Traquair House which has been visited by more than 27 Kings and Queens including Mary, Queen of Scots. Traquair House has a wonderful maze in its gardens as well as a working brewery producing the famous Jacobite Ale and Laird’s Liquor. Innerleithen is home to some world class mountain biking and the town is used to visitors on two wheels. The Tweed Cycle Route and also the Borderloop pass through this small town and there are also three shorter routes for you to explore. These routes take in the Moorfoot Hills, Ettrickbridge and also the stunning scenery around Megget and Talla reservoirs. These three routes range from 37 – 53 miles. Bike hire, repair, transfer and support services can be found in Innerleithen.
The Historic Royal Burgh of Jedburgh lies 10 miles north of the border with England. Romans passed by here and established a settlement around 845 AD by the Bishop of Lindisfarne. In 1566 Mary, Queen of Scots stayed in Jedburgh at a house which now tells the story of her tragic life. As a key abbey town the 4 Abbeys Cycleway passes through the town. There are also five shorter routes that start and finish in Jedburgh and range in distance from 7 – 20 miles and take in Oxnam, Denholm, Nisbet and Lilliesleaf. Bike hire and repairs can be found in the town centre and tandems can be hired nearby.
The town of Kelso lies at the junction of two rivers – the Tweed and the Teviot. The spacious Kelso Square claims to be the largest town square in Scotland. At its centre is still the Bull Ring, a reminder of the traditional market days, now past, the square is now host to many fine specialist shops. Kelso is a fantastic hub for cycling in the Scottish Borders with the Borderloop, the Tweed Cycle Route, the 4 Abbeys Cycleway and the Coast and Castles all passing through this Abbey town. Furthermore there are a number of local routes starting and finishing in the town with some taking in Town Yetholm, Roxburgh and Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre. Bike sales and repairs are available in the town centre.
The triple peaks of the Eildon Hills are the most distinctive single landmark in the Scottish Borders. At their feet in the valley of the River Tweed lies Melrose, birthplace of the game of Rugby Sevens. The area around Melrose has been inhabited for thousands of years and provides a good base for cycling breaks with the Borderloop, the Tweed Cycle Route, the 4 Abbeys Cycleway and the Coast and Castles all passing through this Abbey town. There are also four local routes starting and finishing in Melrose and range from 5 – 15 miles and take in Abbotsford, former home to Sir Walter Scott, Dryburgh, the Eildons and also Scott’s View.
Newcastleton can be found in the south-western tip of the Scottish Borders and is known locally at Copshaw Holm. The small village is home to 850 residents and is nestled in the valley of Liddlesdale, gateway to the Scottish Borders. Five hundred years ago the hills would have been ringing with the sound of clashing steel and fighting Reivers, today visitors experience a warm welcome. Newcastleton is home to one of the 7stanes, world class mountain biking across the South of Scotland, and offers a perfect introduction to the stanes. The village is also a good starting point for the Southern Borders Loop which also takes in Hawick. Bike hire and cycle friendly businesses can be found here.
One of Scotland’s hidden treasures, Peebles nestles in its attractive setting amongst the hills on the banks of the River Tweed. On the outskirks of Peebles, the Glentress Mountain Biking Centre and nearby Innerleithen offer some world class mountain biking with everything from beginners’ trails to extreme downhill. The Tweed Cycle Route and also the Borderloop pass through this picturesque town. There are also five local cycling routes from the town with varying distances from 7 – 26 miles and taking in Manor Valley, Eddleston, Dawyck Botanic Garden and Traquair House. Bike hire and repair can be found in the town centre.
The Ancient and Royal Burgh of Selkirk stands high above the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys. The famous novelist and author of such classics as Rob Roy and Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott was Sheriff here for 33 years. It was at the ‘Kyrk of Field’ in Selkirk that William Wallace was proclaimed Guardian of Scotland. It is also home to the Selkirk Bannock a rich fruit bread which should be enjoyed whilst visiting the area. There are four local routes which start and finish in the town and range from 7 – 20 miles and take in Bowhill, Lilliesleaf, Yair, Ettrickbridge and the Yarrow Valley