A 17th century classic coaching inn at the heart of the beautiful Scottish Borders has once again opened its doors to locals and visitors alike. The Cross Keys Inn Ettrickbridge has bucked the trend of rural pubs closing its doors for good after being rescued by Rory and Vicki Steel. Rory, the son of former Liberal Democrat leader, Lord David Steel, spent his first 18 years living opposite the village pub, and knew how important it was to the community.
Set in the idyllic Ettrick Valley, The Cross Keys Inn is the only pub in the village and had been lying empty for months prior to Rory and Vicki Steel spending more than £400,000 to purchase and upgrade it.
The pub offers the perfect getaway for those looking to explore the great outdoors, while knowing they’ll return to comfortable, cosy accommodation and a warm welcome from staff and village regulars alike. The pub with rooms features:
· Seven well-appointed and affordable bedrooms ranging in size from a double to large family room. Prices start at £100 per room per night, including full Scottish breakfast.
· Vibrant bar with local beers and ales, extensive whisky and gin collections, range of family games from dominoes to darts and two real, open fires for warming up after a day exploring
· An exceptional, classic pub menu from chef Ash Barker, using fresh local ingredients where possible. Ash has been part of teams that have collected 4 Michelin bib gourmands during his years at places such as Soho House, Kensington Wine Rooms, Riddles & Finn and Fishy Fishy.
The Scottish Borders is rapidly becoming a go-to destination for those who like to get off the beaten track, but don’t want to travel far to get there – Ettrickbridge is less than 2 hours from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle, and just three from Manchester or Liverpool.
With world class mountain biking, hill walking, fishing, riding centres, driving roads, historic houses and country sports estates on the doorstep of the Cross Keys Inn Ettrickbridge, there’s something for all enthusiasts of the kind of wide open environment the South of Scotland offers.
The pub also prides itself on being a hub for the community, with locals once again flocking to take part in quiz nights, domino drives, live music sessions and so much more.
Commenting on the re-opening, Rory Steel said: “The Cross Keys Inn was always the centre of village life when I grew up opposite the pub, and it was a wonderful childhood. I remember the place being full of great characters from the area and further afield. It’s that great atmosphere we are working hard with the local community to bring back.”
Adding to the comments, Vicki Steel, said “We’ve been running Aikwood Tower, which is less than two miles from the pub for more than a decade and the reaction from people who come to explore the South of Scotland is always the same – they can’t believe there aren’t more tourists here. The rolling hills, quiet roads, family activities and fantastic quality food and drink on offer is as good as you’ll find in any rural setting in Scotland, but often at a much lower price than, say, the Highlands. We hope that visitors to the Cross Keys Inn will agree.”
The Cross Keys Inn was purchased by Rory and Vicki after being closed for six months, with no re-opening in sight. A grant from South of Scotland Enterprise allowed for refurbishments and essential upgrading of key facilities. Since re-opening, five full-time equivalent jobs have been created, giving much needed employment, especially to young people, with further employment being created for the busy summer months.