We can’t get enough of South Scotland. Naturally stunning, brimming with history and time-honoured traditions; you can’t help but be captivated by this unique area which spans the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway.
It is also a place of unlimited, untapped adventure. We’ve rounded up eight of the most exciting and unexpected outdoor experiences you have in the southerly regions of Scotland.
Please check ahead if your are planning to visit attractions for opening dates and times. Some places are still closed to the public or require booking in advance.
You can now search our website for attractions, tours, and activities that are open, and for those who are part of the Good to Go scheme, where they have carried out a Covid-19 risk assessment. Find out more about the current restrictions of Phase 3 and future phases.
7stanes mountain biking at Kirroughtree
South Scotland is widely recognised as one of the premier mountain biking destinations in the UK. Renowned for its world-class 7stanes mountain biking centres which span the Scottish Borders to Dumfries & Galloway. Kirroughtree is just one of the eight you can explore.
Kirroughtree boasts trails for riders of all levels but its biggest draw by far is its rocky section known as the ‘McMoab’. This immense granite outcrop is reached by navigating giant slabs and stepping stones in the shape of boulders. Rugged and challenging, the Black Craigs is best tackled by experienced riders. Novice and intermediate riders can put themselves to the test on the new blue/red trail section, the ‘Kirri Crossover’, that twists 500 m up above the Bruntis Loch before descending through a series of terraces and reconnecting with the original trail.
Top tip: Check out The Break Pad on your visit. Located next to the café, this new purpose-built bike hire and maintenance shop boasts showering facilities for both bikes and their cyclists.
Powerboat around the Berwickshire coast
The Berwickshire coastline of the Scottish Borders is one of Scotland’s best kept secrets. Head to St Abbs and take a powerboat trip along the coast to discover it for yourself. Helmed by an experienced skipper, Rib Rides St Abbs give passengers the chance to view this stunning stretch of coastline from its best vantage point – the water. Choose from a range of packages: the signature ‘fast-blast’ trip darting in and around hidden coves and dramatic cliffs; or opt for a leisurely cruise taking in the coast’s picturesque fishing villages and flourishing wildlife, from puffins and razorbills to dolphins and seals. Bespoke tours are also available.
Top tip: Eyemouth Rib Trips also offers boat trips in a powerboat. Join skipper Tim Grimshaw for a high speed or leisurely paced sea safari are around the coastline to see wildlife, serene bays and other spectacular natural sights. He even offers a shuttle service from Eyemouth to St Abbs which allows you to spend some time exploring each location.
Adventure retreats at Galloway Activity Centre
Located on the outer fringe of Galloway Forest Park, on the shores of Loch Ken, Galloway Activity Centre offers the opportunity to reset in the tranquil surroundings of the UK’s largest forest park while enjoying a host of outdoor adventures. Activities available in and around Loch Ken include canoeing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, scaling the centre’s own 25 ft climbing wall, flying down its zip wire, and even a spot of archery. There’s even guided night-time cycling, while mountain bikes can be hired to explore more of the park’s 300 square miles of varied landscape. At the end of the day, hunker down in a shared bunkhouse, yurt or cosy eco pod with your own hot tub on the edge of Loch Ken, and awake refreshed ready to enjoy a range of exhilarating outdoor adventures.
Top tip: If you’re a fan of the Japanese game show Takeshi’s Castle, you won’t want to miss tackling the Wobbly Waterpark during the summer period. Best described as a floating assault course, it’s just about the most fun you can have on the water.
The Roxburghe Shooting School
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One of the loveliest days out you could have with work colleagues, team members, friends or family. Clay pigeon shooting and tomahawk throwing at The Roxburghe Shooting School of Excellence. Try it! www.Roxburghe-Hotel.net ____________ #scotland #tomahawkthrowing #scottishborders #kelso #visitkelso #roxburghegolfcourse #scotspirit #claypigeon #claypigeonshooting #instahotels #instahotel
Are you a sharp shooter or a complete beginner to clay pigeon shooting or target shooting? Either way the Roxburghe Shooting School of Excellence is the perfect place to hone your aim. Students will receive first-class tuition from qualified instructors set against the peaceful parkland backdrop of the estate belonging to the Schloss Roxburghe Hotel. There’s also the opportunity to mix things up on the day and incorporate lessons in archery, fly fishing on the River Teviot and even tomahawk throwing.
Top tip: Group packages can also include private golf tuition on the immaculately kept championship golf course with breakfast and lunch in the club house.
Get to grips with tree climbing
Reach heights you never imagined with Wild Tree Adventures. Under the supervision of qualified instructors while using specialist equipment, scale trees of up to 30 meters and discover a world of wonder in the woodland canopy. Gain a deeper appreciation of trees in the process, as well as a rarely seen perspective of the natural world.
Top tip: Wild Tree Adventures are available at three locations in the Scottish Borders: Paxton House near Berwick-upon-Tweed, Traquair House near Innerleithen, and Mellerstain House near Kelso.
Learn to surf with the St Vedas Surf School
Overlooking the beachfront at Coldingham Bay in Berwickshire, the family-run St Vedas Surf Shop is the answer to all of your surfing weekend needs, including lessons. Learn the fundamentals of beach safety and the sport during a two-hour session with a qualified Water Skills Academy instructor.
Top tip: Once you’ve mastered the basics hit the waves at the nearby Perse Bay, one the UK’s favourite surfing beaches. The water temperatures reach their peak in autumn at a balmy 14 °c .
Explore on two wheels with Galloway Cycling
The gently undulating topography of South Scotland, in particular the south western Galloway area, makes it a dream for cyclists to explore. In addition to offering a comprehensive bike rental service spanning everything from electric powered bikes to gravel models, Galloway Cycling also offers organised self-guided bike tours through this wonderful wee corner of Scotland. With luggage transfers, accommodation, breakfast, and transport (depending on the route) taken care of by husband and wife team Warren and Esther, the only thing you have to worry about is taking in the postcard-perfect scenery.
Top tip: Sign up for Galloway Cycling’s newest offering – Gravel Biking for Mortals. Discover the joys of gravel biking along coastal and rural tracks during a journey interspersed with all kinds of fun activities which can include wild foraging and photography, not to mention delicious coffee.
Explore Wild Eskdale
The wildlife of South Scotland – particularly that of the southern uplands in Dumfries & Galloway – is as rich and iconic as that of the Highlands. In fact, it’s in this undiscovered corner that you’ll find some of our rarest species. Join Wild Eskdale on one of its wildlife tours around the moors, hills, rivers and valleys of the town of Langholm for the chance to get up close to black grouse, wild goat, birds of prey, and a myriad of other creatures.
Top tip: Extend you visit to the area and book a stay in Ewes Water Log Cabins. Discover a traditional yet sustainable home away from home set in stunning moorland.
When it comes to adventurous breaks filled with exciting activities and new discoveries, South Scotland ticks all the boxes. With so much to see and do, a weekend isn’t nearly enough time to scratch the surface of what the area has to offer. Spend some quality time at one of the many unique accommodation options available. Consider an extended tour of the area or a glamping holiday set in idyllic countryside, and find out more about the many other surprises this special place has in store. Why not explore some of the top walks in South Scotland?
For more information on what you can discover in this beautiful part of the country, head over to See South Scotland.