There have been many examples and anecdotes of the rising popularity of Scotland as a staycation destination for walkers, cyclists and other outdoors fans over the past year. Described by many as a silver lining of the Covid pandemic, the UK is waking up to the attractions on the doorstep.
One travel company has revealed that a self-guided walking holiday through the Tweed Valley in the Scottish Borders has become their best-selling trip of all time.
Inntravel, a specialist slow travel company with a 37-year history, launched the six-day walk in autumn 2020 as quarantine restrictions continued to make overseas destinations difficult.
The launch also coincided with the 250th anniversary of Sir Walter Scott’s birth. Scott was a Scottish historical novelist with strong connection to the tweed valley.
Walkers follow navigation notes, from Peebles to Innerleithen and on to Melrose, with a choice of routes – some easy-going, some much harder. Key local landmarks include Neidpath Castle, St Ronan’s Wells, Traquair House, the site of the Roman fort of Trimontium, Melrose Abbey, the Eildon Hills and Abbotsford House, Scott’s vast home on the banks of the River Tweed.
Luggage transfer is provided by local company BARC Travel.
In keeping with Inntravel’s slow travel philosophy, the focus is on a sustainable, immersive form of travel that embraces local food and the use of welcoming, family-run hotels and guesthouses.
Rise of the UK walking holiday
Prior to the pandemic, the UK had not been a major area of focus for Inntravel, with most of its walking holidays in destinations such as Spain, Croatia, India and Nepal. However, with overseas travel not possible the Yorkshire-based company began to look closer to home.
Alison Temple, from Inntravel, said: “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.
“We were so impressed by how all the local accommodation providers and suppliers responded.
“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.”
This year, the trip has run from mid-May to the end of October, with numbers surpassing even those of a long-standing guest favourite, a seven-night walking holiday along the Catalan coast.
Alison added: “We have seen a phenomenal response to the River Tweed holiday. This is an under-visited area that has really captured the imagination of our guests.
“We chose three authentic Borders towns as our overnight bases and then built the trip around the rich literary, cultural and natural history, using the Tweed to help tell the story.”