Hills and tills come alive for walking event

Hawick’s second annual Walking Festival Weekend has been hailed a huge success and a welcome boost to the local economy, writes Sarah Williamson.

A total of 115 places were taken up over a three-day programme that boasted six walks throughout Teviotdale – and with many of those who attended last year bringing friends for the weekend – the event looks set to be a fixture on the calendar.

Hawick Walking Festival group chairman Andrew Farquhar stated: “It’s growing in popularity, with many regulars making return visits and bringing with them friends and acquaintances. Some even extended their visit to spend a few extra days in the area.

“All these people were staying in the town that wouldn’t be here normally, which is good news for businesses.”

The weekend was also advertised with the Ramblers Association, with walkers visiting from Newcastle, Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland, Cleveland, Leeds, Selkirk and even Angus. Indeed, organisers revealed that this year there were more vistors taking part than locals.

The Saturday programme was the most popular day and with the weather good, one walk went from Teviothead to Hawick, across the Borthwick Water to Roberton, whilst another set off from Northhouse to the summit of Skelfhill Pen and returned via Newmill.

A well-attended concert and ceilidh featuring Bernie Armstrong and Gordon Brown’s Scottish Country Dance Band in the evening also ensured that the Walking Festival Group had put Hawick on the map.

Although day two brought showery weather, it did not dampen the spirits of those who enjoyed the Ian Landles-led Nan Lyle walk to Chapelhill, whilst guest leaders Dougie Rae and Alistair Hunter – both highly praised by visitors – took the Slitrig Valley walk via Stobs and St Leonards.

The last two walks on Monday featured Margaret Smith and Margaret Cairns leading the more strenuous hike from Hermitage to Shankend, whilst Ian Louden and Ian Crozier followed the old Waverley Railway line from Whitrope.

Mr Farquhar added: “The whole weekend proved to be a great success and we are absolutely thrilled.”