Moffat & Tweedsmuir
For a town so rich in history, culture and unspoiled beauty, it’s surprising how often Moffat is passed by whilst travelling along the M74, just 3 miles to the west. During its heyday, the former burgh was a
bustling spa town, offering curative treatments for conditions like gout, rheumatism, skin and stomach complaints, using the local sulphurous and saline waters. Later it became an important trading centre for wool, with the surrounding hills providing fantastic grazing, which produced healthy sheep and good quality fleece for wool. This long-standing association was marked by an ‘anatomically deficient’ Ram sculpture in the late 1800s. Designed by William Brodie, the sculptor responsible for Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Bobbie, the piece has no ears, something that caused Brodie such embarrassment that he supposedly hanged himself in a local hotel and still haunts the streets of Moffat to this day.
These days, Moffat is better known as Scotland’s first ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town, something that
visitors should definitely take advantage of when not out looking for ghosts. The Moffat Hills offer such quality walking that the town centre has been incorporated into many of the local routes, allowing walkers to start and finish from their accommodation. No visit to the town should be completed without a drive out to the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall and a walk up to Loch Skeen and White Coomb (821m) behind. Though quite a strenuous climb, walkers are often rewarded with sightings of peregrine falcone, wild goats, and
the view from the top more than makes up for the effort. Other great walks in the area include Gallow Hill, Frenchland Tower and the Devil’s Beef Tub, a deep and dramatic hollow in the local landscape.
The Walkers Welcome status also means that muddy boots and muddy mutts are generally welcomed into the cafes and restaurants of Moffat (the Rumblin’ Tum, Brodies and Beef Tub Grill to name a few) all highly rated for quality food and service. Claudio’s Italian is also renowned for good food, as is the famous Star Hotel, listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the narrowest Hotel in the world, at 20ft wide.
A large number of these establishments use local produce including locally reared lamb, beef and venison, fish and dairy, artisan breads, home baking, desserts, and fudge, not to mention fruit and veg, which can be bought in the shops of Moffat itself, or at the Moffat Farmers Market held on the 2nd Sunday of each month, Feb-Dec.
The town also boasts a jam-packed events calendar including Moffat Rammy, a traditional music festival in April, a Classic Car Show in June, Agricultural Show in August and a Walking Weekend in October.
The stunning scenery which surrounds Moffat continues northwards, merging with the Tweed Valley and eventually progressing onto the Pentland Hills Regional Park. Within this area is the picturesque village of Tweedsmuir. Situated beside the River Tweed, the area is very much a place to escape the stresses of modern life in pursuit of peace and quiet. It’s a great location for walking, cycling and wildlife watching and boasts an impressive array of bronze and iron age sites including standing stones, cairns and barrows. Perhaps the most well-known of these sites are the Giants Stones, a collection of three standing stones thought to be the remains of a Druidical temple or Pictish court of justice and located on the road leading to Fruid Reservoir from Tweedsmuir village itself.
Dotted across the Tweed Valley area are seven different Forestry Commission Parks, with something to offer each and every visitor, whether you’re looking for a quiet picnic, a wildlife adventure, a further glimpse of the valley’s prehistoric past or a spot of world class mountain biking.
Continuing the ancient theme, at Caberston, part of the forest trail ascends Pirn Hill, atop which is an Iron age settlement. The trails themselves feature sculptures by artist Mary Kenny, inspired by local history. Visitors are encouraged to look out for prehistoric hunters, roman soldiers and Celtic storytellers.
All these sites boast an impressive array of resident wildlife including foxes, badger, deer and songbirds, however Cardrona has become one of the last strongholds of the ironic Scottish Red squirrel, whilst Glentress have cameras trained on their very own beehives, as well as a nearby osprey nest.
Mountain biking enthusiasts should also head to Glentress, one of Scotland’s world class 7Stanes sites. Home to the Meteorite Stane, featuring an inscription in Klingon, the cycle trails here are ‘out of this world’, offering something for all levels, including a long and challenging black route which features epic climbs and thrilling descents.
The Go Ape Adventure Park at Glentress also adds a family friendly dimension to the area, offering tree-top challenges and a 325m long zip-wire. In the nearby town of Biggar, family friendly attractions include the Biggar Puppet Theatre, where shows and puppet making workshops are regularly held and, for a big tick on the Bucket List, Shieldhill Castle Balloon Flights is just a 30 minute drive from Tweedsmuir.
Though both Moffat and Tweedsmuir are both rural in nature, their central location within Scotland makes them a perfect base for day trips to Edinburgh, Glasgow and even Loch Lomond National Park. Overall, they are fabulous locations for a family holiday. Moffat offers an almost ‘all inclusive’ nature due to the sheer number of things to do, whilst Tweedsmuir is a great location for the whole family to reconnect and have some fun.