Slow walk to Melrose becomes best-selling staycation

A self-guided walking holiday through the Tweed Valley, launched last autumn as quarantine restrictions continued to make overseas destinations difficult, has become the best-selling holiday ever in one year for Inntravel, a specialist slow travel company with a 37-year history.

By Kevin Janiak
Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 12:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 12:13 pm
Neidpath Castle. Photo: Ian Linton.
Neidpath Castle. Photo: Ian Linton.

Launched using the topical hook of the 250th anniversary of Sir Walter Scott’s birth in 2021, the company was confident that the chance to explore a bucolic region that inspired not just Scott, but also many others before and after, would be popular.

And so it proved. Attracting walkers from all over the UK, “The Tweed & the Scottish Borders” is a six-night hotel-to-hotel walk, with overnight stays at the Tontine Hotel in Peebles, Caddon View in Innerleithen and Burt’s Hotel in Melrose.

“We started the River Tweed holiday in the most challenging of situations, with an initial six-week run of trips from September to October 2020,” explained Alison Temple, product manager at Inntravel. “We were so impressed by how all the local accommodation providers and suppliers responded.

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Views over Innerleithen from Pirn Hill.

“In many ways, a good holiday looks after itself and that’s exactly what has happened here with each local business taking care of things in a way that all can be very proud of.”

Expertly-written route notes ensure that navigation is a breeze, while hotel-to-hotel luggage transfer, provided by local company BARC Travel, ensures that walks are accessible to all.

Guests walk from Peebles to Innerleithen and on to Melrose, with a choice of routes – some easy-going, some much harder – between each destination.

Along the way, the tourists are encouraged to really get under the skin of the area, following the River Tweed to explore key local landmarks such as Neidpath Castle, St Ronan’s Wells, Traquair House, the site of the Roman fort of Trimontium, Melrose Abbey and the Eildon Hills.

There is also, of course, a visit to Abbotsford House – Scott’s home on the banks of the river.

In keeping with Inntravel’s slow travel philosophy, the focus is on a sustainable, immersive form of travel which embraces local food and the use of welcoming, family-run hotels and guesthouses.

“We have seen a phenomenal response to the River Tweed holiday,” added Alison. “This is an under-visited area that has really captured the imagination of our guests."

Rich Rowe, project officer at the Tweed Valley Tourism Business Improvement District, said: “There are so many reasons to celebrate this kind of holiday coming to the area.

“With so many strong messages around responsible tourism, slow travel, authenticity and use of local businesses, it’s exactly the kind of experience-led tourism that we like to encourage.”