Canoe trail first for south of Scotland

Long celebrated as one of Scotland’s great salmon rivers, the River Tweed will soon be known for another kind of journey following the launch this month of the first official canoe trail in the south of Scotland.

Tweed Valley Canoe Trail

Created by Go Tweed Valley, the Tweed Valley Canoe Trail covers a distance of 30 miles, with a focus on the scenic upper Tweed. Aimed at all abilities, the trail starts at Stobo, just minutes from Dawyck Botanic Garden, with six sections of varying lengths taking paddlers as far as Galafoot Bridge, just outside Galashiels.

The trail has been created in close collaboration with landowners, the River Tweed Commission, Paddle Scotland, river guides and local businesses. It will be promoted as an experience to enjoy from April to September, avoiding the peak salmon fishing season in October and November.

As part of its development, Go Tweed Valley has established a donations system that enables paddlers to contribute to ongoing maintenance of the trail, as well as support conservation projects along the river.

The trail passes some of the area’s most iconic landmarks – Neidpath Castle, Traquair House and Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford – connecting paddlers with the people, places and stories that have shaped this part of the Scottish Borders.

Although strong paddlers might cover the full distance in a single day, the trail has been designed to be enjoyed over multiple days – or dipped into section by section – allowing time to stop and explore the area’s towns, villages and attractions along the way.

Infrastructure along the route is light touch, with information signage in five locations, a series of waymarker posts, secure canoe anchor points and a range of paddler-friendly accommodation.

Celebrate the Tweed

“Our ambition is for the trail to celebrate one of Scotland’s great rivers like never before, as well as showcase the Tweed Valley as a destination for a different kind of visitor,” commented Rich Rowe, Project Manager at Go Tweed Valley.

“In addition to the physical adventure, the trail will enable people to immerse themselves in the area’s cultural history and experience the landscape and its wildlife from a unique angle.”

The brand-new trail is seen as a natural extension of the area’s existing network of waymarked routes, many of which run close to or in view of the River Tweed.

“From cyclists to walkers, runners and horse-riders, the Tweed Valley already attracts an active crowd and it felt like a natural next step to create a route on the Tweed itself – a river that has shaped the surrounding landscape and communities,” added Lindsay Quayle, Project Officer at Go Tweed Valley.

As well as trail infrastructure, there are also physical maps plus detailed information online to help paddlers enjoy the river safely and responsibly, with particular emphasis on the river’s precious wildlife and ecology.

Funding support

The Tweed Valley Canoe Trail has been made possible thanks to generous support from the Fallago Environment Fund, which shares the benefits of the Fallago windfarm in the Lammermuir hills with projects across the Borders. The Fund aims to enhance the quality of life of communities and visitors by protecting and enhancing the area’s natural, built and cultural heritage.

“The new Tweed Valley Canoe Trail is a great addition to the Borders’ tourism landscape,” said Gareth Baird, Fallago Environment Fund Chair. “As well as supporting local businesses, it will encourage both enjoyment and appreciation of the area’s natural environment and rich history with residents and visitors.

“We’re delighted that the Fallago Environment Fund has been able to contribute windfarm-generated funds to assist in the creation of this exciting new recreational asset for the region.”

The trail has also seen additional support from the Canoe Foundation and Scottish Borders Council.

Councillor Scott Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive member for Community & Business Development, said: “The Tweed Valley Canoe Trail is a magnificent addition to the ways in which people can explore and enjoy the Scottish Borders.

“It very much fits in with our wider tourism strategy for the region, it inspires visitors to come to the South of Scotland; develops the visitor experience; actively supports businesses and enterprises; builds new destination-wide collaborations and embraces community-led tourism.

“This is an innovative development which we are very pleased to support. We look forward to welcoming many tourists to experience the River Tweed and beyond over the coming months and years.”

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