Walk to celebrate abbey’s 900 years

Erica Hume-Niven at Kelso Abbey. Borders rangers are leading the Borders Abbeys Way walk to celebrate Kelso Abbey's 900th anniversary.
Erica Hume-Niven at Kelso Abbey. Borders rangers are leading the Borders Abbeys Way walk to celebrate Kelso Abbey's 900th anniversary.
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Hiking is one of the ways Kelso will celebrate the 900th anniversary of the founding of its abbey this year when council rangers will lead walkers around the Borders Abbeys Way later this month.

The 68-mile walking week is part of the Lottery-funded Kelso Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) which includes Discover Kelso, a three-year programme of educational events running until next year.

THI project officer, Colin Gilmour said: “Each of the three years has a theme and this year, the theme is Kelso Abbey.

“This was chosen as 2013 coincides with the 900th anniversary of the founding by Earl David of the first Tironisian Abbey in 1113 at a site somewhere around Selkirk. The monks and the abbey were relocated to Kelso in 1128 after Earl David became King David I.

“When we were looking at events that celebrate the original founding of the abbey we discussed a processional pilgrimage from Selkirk to Kelso and this then developed, in conjunction with the SBC Ranger service, into a programme of walks around the Borders Abbey Way, which will start and finish at Kelso Abbey.”

The walks will be led by the council’s rangers because, he said: “They are best placed to lead the walks of groups of people, dispensing their knowledge of the area, both historical and environmental.

“It also ensures that the Borders Abbey Way is promoted as widely as possible, encouraging more people to participate in the future.”

The leading duties will be shared by senior ranger Keith Robeson, who lives in Kelso, and access rangers Susan Kevan and Erica Niven.

Asked what he hoped for from the project, Mr Gilmour said: “From a ranger point of view it will help to promote the Borders Abbeys Way which is one of Scotland’s Great Trails in the Year of Natural Scotland.From a THI point of view it reinforces the links of Kelso Abbey to the surrounding area and increases the general understanding of these important historical buildings and their role in the development of Border life.

“We’re also hoping for good weather!”

The walks include free transport to the start and from the finish of the day’s hike.

The Kelso THI is a council-led project aimed at regenerating the Kelso Conservation Area. The £1.4million project is jointly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£700,000), Historic Scotland (£307,500) and Scottish Borders Council (£392,500) and has so far seen work on buildings and pavements carried out, along with educational projects.

To book a place on the Borders Abbeys Way walk, email kelso@visitscotland.com or ring 01573 228055.

Meanwhile, the Borders ranger-led activities guide was published last month, with details of walks for the family, more strenuous day-long hikes and other activities.

Rangers will be leading hikes up local Donalds – hills over 2,000 feet high – this summer.

Details of the Borders Biodiversity Month which started on May 18 and runs until next Sunday (June 16) are listed.

There is also information on walks rangers will be leading in the Scottish Borders Walking Festival – the oldest one of its kind in Scotland – around Innerleithen at the beginning of September and similarly information of walks and activities in the Scottish Borders Heritage Festival the same month.

The booklet is in council offices and tourist information centres and can be downloaded from the council’s website www.scotborders.gov.uk