If last year was a time of hibernation, then 2021 could well turn out to be a year of renewed adventure and discovery. And although change might not happen overnight, planning excursions for the next 12 months can certainly be a huge mood booster. With this in mind, where better to explore than the forests, gardens and beaches of the Scottish Borders?
For a little bit of inspiration, here are five must-see visitor spots that you should definitely try to experience this year...
1. Cycle through Glentress forest in spring
Based in the Tweed Valley, Glentress is a lush green forest known as a 'mountain biking mecca'. Boasting some of the best bike trails in Scotland, it's exhilarating to try them out when the air is fresh and alive with spring.
There are various biking trails to choose from and all are graded with different difficulty levels. This mean that you can pick anything from a gentle family excursion to a nail-biting thrill ride down a steep slope.
Not into bikes? Not to worry, as there are plenty of walking trails and picnic spots too. Children can also enjoy treetop adventures at Go Ape!, while the forest's Wildlife Room offers live osprey cams and an observation beehive. So why not lose yourself in one of Scotland's most incredible forests?
2. Explore the Cove coastline in summer
The Berwickshire coast offers plenty of summertime attractions, from harbour-side ice creams at Eyemouth to the seabird colonies of St. Abb's. The tiny hamlet of Cove is a little more under-the-radar, but that's exactly what makes it so worth visiting.
Part of the Southern Upland Way hiking route, settlements date back to prehistoric times and the hamlet also has a roguish pirating past. In more recent years it has been a favourite location of film and TV directors, passing as everything from Lyme Regis to Ancient Greece.
Nowadays it is a tranquil summer visitor spot with a rugged beach, picturesque harbour and strip of fisherman's cottages. Yet Cove hides an intriguing secret — as well as the main coastal walk there is also a secret beach and harbour that can only be reached through a smuggler's passage in the cliffs. The whole experience feels like being in a mystery novel and once you've passed through the tunnel you will be rewarded with a secluded strip of white sand.
Other Cove highlights include a haunting set of statues created to commemorate a 19th century fishing tragedy and a romantic kissing gate. So if you're looking for a day out with a difference in the Borders this summer, then head to this hidden Berwickshire gem.
3. Photograph Dawyck Botanic Garden in autumn
If you don't immerse yourself in incredible foliage at least once every autumn, then you're not properly enjoying the season. And while you'll be spoiled rotten for scenic spots in the Scottish Borders (the Tweed Valley has seven forests alone), Dawyck Botanic Garden is an unmissable destination.
Based near Peebles, this 65-acre garden blazes with jaw-dropping reds, golds and oranges in the autumn months. And if you can turn your gaze (and camera) away from the maples, rowans, beech spindle, golden birch and Japanese katsura, then there is plenty of great snapshot material at ground level too. So why not sharpen your close-up photography skills by snapping fruits, fungi and autumn crocuses, as well as fir cones, maple keys and shiny conkers?
4. Sample a welcoming dram in winter
For almost two-hundred years, the Scottish Borders went without its own whisky distillery. So when The Borders Distillery launched in 2018, it was an exciting moment for the whole region. And if you're going to pop by for a tour and a warming dram, what better time than winter?
The distillery is based in a beautifully renovated landmark building in Hawick which is well worth seeing for the heritage factor alone. Once inside, you can sample two whisky blends — Lower East Side and the lightly sweet Clan Fraser Reserve (plus as the distillery also produces a gin and vodka, you might get to try a snifter of those as well).
And while you're in Hawick, don't forget to head to the famous knitwear and tweed mills to pick up a few stylish gifts or treats for yourself.
5. Experience Airhouses in any season
We can't not mention the fact that our gorgeous Airhouses holiday lodges in Oxton offer an amazing experience all year around. Surrounded by wildlife and overlooking the Lammermuir Hills, you will see daffodils in spring, honeysuckle in summer, roe deer in autumn and magical snowscapes in winter. (Hi Carol, is this accurate? Feel free to change any of the examples as I wasn't sure - I just took a look at your Facebook for inspiration!)
What's more, you can have a fun time whatever the weather as our luxury accommodation is kitted out with everything you'll need. From hot tubs to BBQ huts and from books to board games, you can unwind in total style.
And while attractions like Peebles, Lauder and Abbotsford are all nearby, there are plenty of lovely rambles in the surrounding area too. Plus you'll also get to meet our friendly animal family of alpacas, Highland cows, donkeys, goats, sheep and rescued Shetland ponies. So what are you waiting for? Airhouses can't wait for you to visit.
Please note that these visitor spots are dependent on opening times and government guidelines.
Book a stay in an Airhouses five-star self-catering lodge near Lauder.
You might also like:
Fabulous Follies and Quirky Attractions of the Scottish Borders.
Amazing Autumn Nature Spots in the Scottish Borders.
Why Dogs Love Visiting the Scottish Borders.
Airhouses is more than an award-winning holiday escape — it’s an experience you will never forget. Explore woodland walks, hiking trails and the peaceful village of Oxton (plus Edinburgh is less than an hour away). And don’t forget to say hello to our friendly animal family of alpacas, goats, donkeys, pigs, Shetland ponies and more.