Magnificent seven tourist attractions among nine Borders contenders vying for awards

Johnstons of Elgin in Hawick.
Johnstons of Elgin in Hawick.

A magnificent seven tourist attractions in the Borders have been shortlisted for honours at this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards.

The awards, now in their 27th year, help shine the spotlight on individuals and businesses going above and beyond the call of duty to attract visitors to Scotland.

Seven of the region’s leading attractions have made it onto the awards’ shortlists, one of them – Johnstons of Elgin’s Hawick mill – twice.

Two organisations here, Lauder’s Thirlestane Castle Trust and Visit Berwickshire Coast, are also shortlisted, taking our tally of award contenders to nine.

They will vie for 10 honours at a regional final to be held at Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh on Thursday, November 14.

Competing in the best bar or pub category is Rutherfords in Kelso. It became Scotland’s first micropub after it was opened in a disused former knitwear unit in the Square four years ago by Simon and Debbie Rutherford.

In the best restaurant section, the nominees include Provender in Melrose.

Launched in November 2017 in the town’s High Street by brothers Justin and Christian Orde and childhood friend Christian Edwardson, it bills itself as specialising in contemporary British and French food at affordable prices.

Textile company Johnstons of Elgin’s base in Mansfield Road in Hawickis up for two awards at this year’s ceremony, for best heritage tourism experience and best informal eating experience.

Kingsmuir House in Springhill Road in Peebles is hoping to be named the region’s most hospitable bed-and-breakfast or guesthouse.

Two Borders businesses will also go head to head in the best outdoor or adventure experience category - Beirhope Alpacas at Beirhope Farm, near Hownam, and Wild Tree Adventures at Bowden, near Newtown.

Ride Scottish Borders, based at Lindean, north of Selkirk, is also vying for recognition, in the working together for tourism section.

2019 saw almost 600 entries submitted following more than 1,000 nominations by members of the public keen to give hotels, restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts, visitor attractions and individuals the opportunity to earn the recognition they deserve from their industry peers.

Last year’s regional winners incuded two from the Borders – Walkerburn’s Windlestraw restaurant and hotel, named most hospitable hotel, and Fauhope Country House at Gattonside, named most hospitable B&B.

VisitScotland regional leadership director Paula Ward said: “I am delighted to see such a strong representation from the Borders in the Scottish Thistle Awards regional final.

“Those individuals and businesses should feel very proud to have reached the regional finals, and I wish them the very best of luck.”

Rebecca Brooks, chairperson of the awards panel, added: “Once again, the Scottish Thistle Awards have attracted entries from right across the country, with the regional winners earning their place at the prestigious national final in March, where they will join the country’s tourism elite to be honoured with the highest accolade in the Scottish hospitality and tourism sector.

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience. It is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change.”

“The Scottish Thistle Awards are a chance to celebrate those people and businesses responsible for offering the warmest of welcomes that our country is famous for.”

Nominated in the best self-catering accommodation experience is the Thirlestane Castle Trust at Lauder.