Travel

Peebles – a guide for visiting this lovely Scottish Borders town in 2023

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The Scottish Borders is full of lovely towns and villages to visit, and we definitely think Peebles is one of the best. Set against the amazing backdrop of the Tweed Valley, this town is packed with cute little cafes, interesting history, and excellent independent shops. Plus, it's less than an hour away from Edinburgh. We decided to publish a guide about this town to outline the best things to see and do during your time here, all updated for 2023. Let's get into the guide:

Glentress Forest

We have to start our guide about Peebles with a mention of this lovely forest because we have a guide all about it (which was recently referenced on the Red Bull website). If you're a fan of mountain bike trails and great woodland walks, then Glentress Forest is an excellent place to head to. The trails are varied and although many of them are quite difficult, there are lots of trails which are very straightforward and would make for a great afternoon stroll (such as the Ponds Trail). The Go Ape centre here is also really impressive, with a 325-metre-long zip wire. If you're lucky you might see some wildlife such as buzzards, red squirrels, herons, and maybe even roe deer.
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Visit the war memorial

It might not be top of your list to visit a war memorial as soon as you arrive in Peebles, but we actually think it is a very powerful way to start your time in the town. Plus, the memorial itself is a beautiful and impressive structure. The memorial commemorates the 541 men and women of Peebleshire who died in the First World War, and the 110 who died in the Second World War, the names of whom are listed on the walls next to the memorial. The memorial was built in 1922 after a design competition was held. Seeing the names listed is powerful, especially when you see that some of the very small Peebleshire villages lost 1 person. It reminds you that even the people living in these small, quaint Scottish Borders locations were affected by the brutality of the wars.
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Explore the cafes

Peebles is an excellent place to grab a bite to eat and a great coffee, and you're spoilt for choice when it comes to cafe options. In fact, we were shocked at how much choice there was. If your idea of bliss is trying lots of home baking and chocolate, Peebles is a great place to head to (there is even a chocolate school in the town centre!)
We decided on a place called The Oven Door, which required us to walk through a little close. We had scones with clotted cream and jam, plus a can of Irn-Bru of course. But if you explore the high street and side streets you'll see a number of other cafes, all of which are very well reviewed.
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Explore the independent shops

One of the things which really surprised us during our time in Peebles was the variety of shops along the high street. So often when we visit towns like this in Scotland we're disappointed to find nothing more than tourist tat shops along the high street, but Peebles had a great selection of independent shops. We visited Time & Tide which is a Scottish brand with stores in Edinburgh and North Berwick, but our favourite shop was a small outdoors shop called Out & About which had a great selection of clothing and equipment for anyone looking to head off into the Tweed Valley. The man behind the counter was passionate and helpful, and although there is a large Trespass shop in the town we'd recommend heading here instead for your Outdoor needs! Peebles is also home to some excellent food and drink brands - we enjoyed a lovely glass of Meldon Dry Gin with a bit of tonic from the Tweed Valley Distilling Company at the Neidpath Inn.
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Check out the Macdougall Footbridge

This footbridge sign was only unveiled in August 2022 so is very new. The footbridge is named after Reverend Calum Macdougall, who ministered 2 parish churches in Peebles for almost two decades and who is much admired in the community. Standing alongside the old parish church, this footbridge is a little rickety (it took some convincing to get one of our party to stand on it) but is a great location for a view of the river below and of course, of the church itself.
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Walk along "The Cuddy"

Across from The Macdougall Footbridge you'll see a set of stairs with this sign at the top. This walk takes you along the Eddleston Water, which is known locally as "The Cuddy". It's a nice easy walk which will take you past some lovely scenery. You'll see some ducks and probably also some fish in the shallower parts of the river. If you're looking for an easy walk to follow during your time in Peebles, this is a great option.
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The John Buchan Story

This museum celebrates the life and works of John Buchan, one of Scotland's most famous authors and the man behind 'The 39 Steps'. You might not be familiar with the book, but if you get a chance to read it before your trip to Peebles then we highly recommend you do. If you don't have time for an entire novel then the 1935 film is an absolute classic which is still very watchable today. It's a small museum and entry is free, but if you're a fan of Buchan you will find it utterly charming and fascinating. Learn more here - johnbuchanstory.co.uk

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Explore the Tweed Valley

Peebles is a great place to start if you're looking to explore the Tweed Valley, a beautiful part of the country. If walking, cycling, wild swimming or bird watching is your thing, we'd highly recommend you explore the valley. You can follow the Tweed Valley Railway Path which takes you from Peebles to Innerleithen passing through the town of Cardrona. This is around 7 miles long and is best explored on a bicycle. Learn more here - scotlandstartshere.com
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Visit the Peebles Old Parish Church

This impressive Gothic structure sits right in the middle of the town and towers above the surrounding buildings. As soon as we arrived in Peebles we heard the bells going which we thought was just great timing, but apparently the bells go at least a few times every hour.
Built in the mid 19th century, the building is amazing to look at from the outside but to really appreciate it you'll want to go inside. Chances are it'll be quiet, and you'll get to experience it in silence which is quite a powerful experience. The stained glass windows are beautiful too. Visit the website of the church here - topcop.org.uk
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Admire the signs

If you spend a bit of time walking about Peebles, you'll quickly notice that many of the signs dotted around the town are quite interesting looking. You might spot a few signs with fish on them, like this really cool sign above the entrance to the Peebles Rugby Club. This is the Coat of arms of Peebles, and the fish are salmon. You can actually see that on this sign there were originally 3 salmon (which is the correct number for the coat of arms), but one has fallen off, possibly caused by rowdy rugby players. The salmon is the fish used because of all of the salmon in the River Tweed. As we say, the town has plenty of signs like this and it can be quite fun to spot them.
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Get involved in the Tweed Valley Trail Run

As you'd imagine, as well as being very popular with walkers, the Tweed Valley is also a great area for running as there are so many different routes to follow, covering a range of terrains (with some killer hills too) If you're up for a challenge then there is a great event you can get involved in called The Longest Day which is organised by the Tweed Valley Trail Run team. This involves completing as many laps as you can of a 7k course within 10 hours. Amazingly, some people attempt this on their own, but you can also try it as part of team. Learn more here -tweedvalleytrailrun.com
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Visit Stobo Castle

From Peebles, you're only a short distance (around 7 miles) away from Stobo Castle, Scotland's only destination spa. If you've spent a weekend walking or cycling in and around Peebles, then we can't think of a better way to reward yourself than with a trip to Stobo Castle - the spa experience here is like no other you will ever have encountered. This is much more than just a jacuzzi and a steam room - the hydrospa at Stobo is one of the most advanced of its kind, and the outdoor hot tubs allow you to relax while admiring the stunning surroundings. You can also enjoy a delicious meal at Stobo in the restaurant, all of which is made using Scotland's finest produce. Learn more and book a trip to Stobo here -stobocastle.co.uk
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Cycle to Traquair House

Traquair House - the oldest inhabited house in Scotland - is approximately 8 miles from the centre of Peebles, a distance which might be a little too far away for walking but which can easily be reached by bike. We'd definitely say that if you've got the time and the energy, a cycle to Traquair House is highly recommended as it's a very interesting place to visit. The restaurant here is also excellent and a lovely place to get some food after your cycle.

There are 2 main cycling routes you can follow from Peebles to Traquair House, and we've created a Google Map for both of them. This route takes you via the A72, and this route takes you via the B7062. Happy cycling!

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Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to visit this excellent town! If you enjoyed this guide, we have guides about other areas within the Scottish Borders, including Melrose. We also have guides about walking routes within the Scottish Borders, including the Borders Abbeys Way, and the Southern Upland Way.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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