Kelso gives the boot to walking festival offer

Kelso has been forced to turn down hosting another Scottish Borders Walking Festival due to the huge level of local activity already going on.

The town has only hosted the popular event – now 20 years old – once before, when it was held in 2007.

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the February session of Kelso Community Council, members discussed an invitation from Scottish Borders Council to host the festival in 2015, 2016 or 2017.

The festival, which first took place in West Linton in 1995, moves round the main Border towns on an annual basis and normally takes place in the first week of September.

Around 100 walkers take part on each of the festival days, which typically consists of three walks of varying lengths.

This year’s festival will be organised by Jedburgh and Denholm and held in September.

Last year’s was successfully based at Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Clovenfords, with more than 300 people on over 700 walk places and almost 300 children from the local schools out on one of the walks.

Kelso community councillors were informed by SBC that the local authority can give advice on how to source funding to cover festival costs, which typically run at about £10-12,000.

But, despite some benefits to boosting the town’s local economy – many of those booking for walks come from outwith the Borders and may require accommodation – the community council decided to pass up the offer to host the festival in the near future.

Provost John Bassett made it clear it was just not feasible for the community council – which would be responsible for organising a walking festival – to take on any more events in the foreseeable future.

“Margaret Riddell [provost when Kelso last hosted the walking festival] told me it had been a huge amount of work, a massive effort, but for not much effect in return,” Provost Bassett told his fellow community councillors.

“But until everything is settled with all the work underway in the town, and so much else going on, I can’t see how we can really take on anything else for the next couple of years at least.”

Mr Bassett added that an additional part of the problem in hosting such another major event, would be that such things rarely saw new faces getting involved to share the workload.

“It would just be the same people that are sitting on every other committee in the town – that’s part of the problem when it comes to taking on other events.

“It’s always left to the same people to take on the responsibility.”

SBC will give preference 
for the 2015 event to an area which has not hosted the festival for some time, and a spokesperson said it is important it moves round the region.