Remote Craikhope Outdoor Centre set for new lease of life

An outdoor centre is set for a new lease of life after lying empty for nearly three years.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 19th September 2018, 5:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th September 2018, 9:52 pm
The Craikhope Outdoor Centre during its refurbishment.
The Craikhope Outdoor Centre during its refurbishment.

The Craikhope outdoor centre will be officially reopened on Saturday following a year-long refurbishment.

Owned by the Forestry Commission, the centre, located in a clearing in the Craik Forest, south of Hawick, had been empty since Scottish Borders Council gave up its lease on it in 2016.

It is now welcoming groups again, though, after Craikhope Community Interest Company, the trading arm of outdoor charity In2Venture, took over the lease last year.

Company director Andre Santos said: “We’re really pleased to have Craikhope up and running.

“It was a very popular place in the past with scouts, boys brigades, schools and other groups and individuals, and since we took on the lease we have found that people are still keen to use it for all kinds of outdoor activities.”

The centre can now accommodate groups of up to 36 and has already begun hosting groups, with Borders district scouts completing a first aid course there last week.

The renovation included the installation of a new heating and plumbing system, roofing and electrical works, overgrown plants being cut back and the addition of an archery range and storage shed.

“It had been closed for quite a while, so there was a lot to be done,” Mr Santos said.“It’s in an area of the Borders where there is no network. There are no phone lines and the electricity is all generators.

“It’s great. People enjoy it because it’s so remote.”

An open day takes place this Saturday, from noon to 8pm. There will be a barbecue, archery, vertical challenge, badminton, team games and, weather permitting, fencing, with the official opening due to take place at 12.30pm.

Converted from the original Craighope Cottage, the outdoor centre was opened by Prince Philip in 1976.

It was gutted by fire just three years later but was soon rebuilt, with Hawick yachtsman Chay Blyth opening the new centre in 1983.