The Borders & Northumberland Tour


Where: English Lakes, Northumberland and Scottish Borders

How Long: 7 Days

There are still some parts of South West Scotland we haven’t explored and it is a while since we have spent any time in the Borders so that is where we will be going this time, with a little bit in the English lakes and some time in Northumberland

Tour Operator: cct (MK)
Available: August 1st - August 8th 2017

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The Borders & Northumberland Tour

Having run Scottish Tours for the last 15 years we felt last year that we had run out of ideas and maybe it would be good to rest Scotland for a year.

Such was the demand for something north of the border that we hastily put a few of the ‘best bits’ from previous years together and it resulted it what many people regarded as the best Scottish Tour ever.

Well – we can’t beat that, so this year (2017) we are going a little bit lower key – and a little bit lower down! There are still some parts of South West Scotland we haven’t explored and it is a while since we have spent any time in the Borders, so that is where we will be going this time, with a little bit in the English lakes and some time in Northumberland. It should therefore still be a very full and interesting tour.

(We are looking at something a little more ‘exotic’ for next year, 2018, in an area we definitely haven’t been – there is always a cunning plan!)

Monday July 31st Dinner at the Crooklands Hotel

Day One August 1st

We start from one of our favourite hotels, The Crooklands, just off the M6 motorway south of Kendal. We will cross the motorway and head straight into the Lake District National Park, passing through the picturesque Lyth Valley before crossing Gummers How which looks down on the southern end of Windermere. A coffee stop will be taken at the excellent Lakeland Motor Museum. We have been here many times but there is always something new to see.

From the museum we go via country lanes to Grizebeck Hill which affords spectacular views over the Duddon Estuary to the imposing Black Combe. We traverse the flanks of Black Combe via Corney Fell, where, from the summit, on a clear day you can see the Isle of Man. We will descend to the coast and have lunch at Muncaster Castle.

The afternoon run then takes us past the stunning scree slopes at Wastwater and on to the unfortunately named Cold Fell which gives us views out over the Irish Sea. We pass through Ennerdale (NOT Emmerdale!) and run alongside the beautiful lakes of Lowes Water and Buttemere. We then climb the awesome Newlands Pass and drop down to Keswick. A final main road run brings us to one of the best views in the lakes as we descend to the shores of Ullswater and our hotel for the night, another of our favourites, Leeming House.

Day Two August 2nd

From Leeming we follow the lake north and by-pass the town of Penrith and take the old A6 road north before crossing over to the tranquil Eden Valley. We follow the valley north and skirt the city of Carlisle as we make our way to Gretna Green for coffee.

Now over the Border we continue north using the now very quiet old main road to Glasgow, superseded by the motorway which now runs parallel. After Lockerbie we take to more minor roads on our way to the Forest of Ae where we pass secluded lochs on the way to Auldgirth for lunch.

After lunch we make our way out into open moorland and then back into the forests and a stop for tea at the lovely Clatteringshaws Loch. From here we descend to Newton Stewart and then take some very minor roads over the hills to our impressive hotel for the next two nights, The Cally Palace.

Day Three – August 3rd

This morning we head back into the forests and within a few miles of the hotel are in surprisingly remote and mountainous countryside on the edge of the vast Galloway Forest Park. We pass through Newton Stewart again and then into Glentrool Forest where we pass the pretty Loch Ochiltree. As we climb to the north we get panoramic views over the surrounding forest before we turn west to the coast. We now take the main road north to Girvan with superb views out over the Irish Sea and the cone shaped island of Ailsa Craig which produces the granite used for making curling stones.

After a stop for lunch on the coast we continue south on the main road through Glen App and past the ferry ports at Cairnryan. Avoiding the ferry traffic we turn inland again and take the minor road following ‘The Water of Luce’ to Glen Luce. Now we cross onto the Wigtown Penninsula (or the Machars) where we follow the coast for a while before cutting across country to Wigtown, the ‘Book Town of the North’.

We will have a break for tea before looping around Wigtown Bay and return to our hotel via the main road.

Day Four August 4th

Leaving ‘Cally Pally’ we go through Laurieston Forest on our way to the picturesque Loch Ken. We follow the shores of the loch northward and pass through New Galloway on our way to Thornhill. We cross the busy A76 and take the superb driving road through the Dalvine Pass which snakes between the mountains and climbs steadily into the Lowther Hills. At the summit we turn back for lunch at the mining centre at Wanlockhead, Scotland’s highest village!

The afternoon run is relatively short as we turn east again to cross the M74 and skirt the Tinto Hills on the way to Peebles and our hotel a few miles down the road in open countryside, The Cardrona Hotel, where we spend the next two nights.

Day Five August 5th

South to the Borders today.

We start with a run over the spectacular Talla and Megget Reservoir road which climbs into the hills and then suddenly makes a stunning descent to the shores of the Talla Reservoir. We then have a more gentle run down the very scenic main road to Moffat for a coffee stop.

From Moffat we head south on minor roads before cutting across the hills to Langholm where another spectacular run brings us to the edge of Kielder Forest. This time we don’t go into the heart of the forest but instead follow the route of the old Waverley Railway, the northern part of which has been re-opened as a commuter line into Edinburgh. We don’t go quite that far though as we stop for lunch in Hawick.

The afternoon run takes us back into the hills and past the pretty and intriguingly named ‘Alemoor’ reservoir into the picturesque Ettrick valley. We follow the valley north to Selkirk and then the main road back to our hotel via a stop for tea at the nearby Traqhair House which looks more like a French chateau than a Scottish country house.

Day Six August 6th

Jim Clark Country today.

Our penultimate day starts by dodging the golf balls as we cross the course north of Inverleithen. We climb through the un-spoilt Moorfoot Hills and skirt the Lammermuir Hills to Haddington. We then cross the busy A1 to visit the fascinating Museum of Flight at East Fortune.

After a look around Concord and a coffee we head back to the Lammermuir Hills and head south past the Whiteadder Reservoir on our way to Duns with panoramic views over the patchwork quilt like countryside of the Tweed Valley. We stop for a visit to the atmospheric Jim Clark Rooms in Duns, a monument to the famous Grand Prix driver. We then have a short run to the impressive Paxton House for lunch.

After lunch we pay a brief visit to Berwick on Tweed before heading south to Wooler with the beautiful Cheviot Hills ahead of us. We pass Chillingham Castle, famous for its wild cows, and make our way to the fabulous Alnwick Castle made famous in Harry Potter films. There is then just a short run over the hills to our hotel near Rothbury.

Day Seven August 7th

Our last day finishes with a spectacular drive back into Cumbria, but first we loop north around Rothbury and the pretty Coquet Valley to the stunning foothills of the Cheviots. We then cross the imposing Otterburn Military ranges and stop for coffee at the Otterburn Woollen Mill. From here we cross the moors and pass the edge of the mighty Kielder Forest on good driving roads before crossing Hadrian’s Wall and down to Haydon Bridge. We stop for lunch at the fabulous Langley Castle.

The afternoon run is the ‘grand finale’ of the tour with a run down the full length of the A686, voted by the AA as ‘the best drive in Britain’. This takes in the fantastic Hartside Pass with its Stelvio-like hairpin bends and views over the Eden Valley as far as the Solway Firth. We descend into the valley and the final run back along Ullswater to our hotel, Leeming House again.