Enjoy the great outdoors at 25th walking festival

The annual Scottish Borders Walking Festival is the longest established event of its kind in Scotland – and it’s getting ready to mark its silver anniversary.

Running from 7-14 September, the Festival will be welcoming walkers from across the UK and around the world to Selkirk and the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys, a beautiful part of Southern Scotland that is wild, remote and unspoiled, and yet only an hour from Edinburgh.

The Festival organising team, made up entirely of volunteers, are planning a full programme. Over the course of the week, there will be approximately 28 daily countryside walks of varying lengths and levels of difficulty.

Some will be led by Scottish Borders Council Rangers and others by local volunteer walk leaders. There will also be free and easy strolls led by local people with special interest themes and a social event programme with something for everyone.

The Festival is non-profit-making – charges are made for the countryside walks to cover costs but every attempt is made to keep prices low and much of what else is on offer is free or pay as you please, like the Edinburgh Fringe.

Keith Robeson, senior ranger at Scottish Borders Council, who has been involved since the very beginning, said: ‘The Borders really lends itself to walking and the Festival moves around different towns every year, so you get variety. And early September gives you an excellent chance of good weather in Scotland.’

Walkers will be treated to a range of social events. A highlight will be the Festival First Night Welcome on 7 September in Selkirk’s grand Victoria Halls, with local performers such as the Selkirk Silver band and a very special guest – Cameron McNeish, the presenter of the BBC Adventure Show.

Cameron is a popular and experienced television and radio presenter whose successes also include The Edge: 100 Years of Scottish Mountaineering, and two series of Wilderness Walks. For 20 years Cameron was editor of The Great Outdoors magazine and before that he was editor of Climber Magazine.

His most recent best-selling book, There’s Always the Hills, won the 2018 The Great Outdoors Magazine Book of the Year award. Cameron will be giving a presentation on There’s Always the Hills with a book-signing afterwards.

In addition, the Walking Festival has partnered up with FINDRA – an active lifestyle clothing brand based in nearby Innerleithen. FINDRA and the Festival share the same vision of encouraging people to get outside for physical and mental health and FINDRA has generously offered a FREE goodie bag to all attending the Festival First Night Welcome. Tickets to this event are free and numbers are limited so with all of this on offer, they are expected to go fast!

No Scottish festival would be complete without a ceilidh and this year’s hooley will be led by popular, local, traditional band Dere Street in Selkirk’s grand Victoria Halls on the Friday 13.

This will also be a fundraising opportunity for local charity Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue.

This year, walkers will see the town alive with weird and wonderful hats as part of the Souter Stormer’s HatFest competition – Border Bunnets. Entries will be sold to raise money for Alzheimer Scotland, with winning entries auctioned on September 14 at a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party by celebrity antiques expert Anita Manning (from the BBC’s Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip). Further details to be announced soon via their Facebook page and on the Walking Festival website.

Enter the competition via borderbunnets@gmail.com.

The full programme and tickets will be available from midnight on March 31 on the website www.borderswalking.com with regular updates on Facebook and Twitter at @borderswalking.

The Festival is supported by Scottish Borders Council, Live Borders, Selkirk Community Council and Ettrick and Yarrow Community Council.