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The Scottish Borders Walking Festival

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Stuart Forster heads to Kelso in Roxboroughshire, Scotland, to participate in the 2023 Scottish Borders Walking Festival and find out what it offers to people who enjoy walks.Disclosure: Some of the links below and banners are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.The Scottish Borders Walking Festival is an annual event that was established in 1994. It attracts walkers to celebrate the landscape and history of the border region and in 2023 was organised by volunteers based in Kelso.Welcome to Kelso sign with another that welcomes participants of the Scottish Borders Walking Festival.2023 Scottish Borders Walking FestivalThe 2023 edition of the week-long walking festival took place from 2nd to 9th September. It featured 28 walks of varying degrees of difficulty, designed to be inclusive and accessible to people of a range of fitness and mobility levels.The walks included a three-mile (five-kilometre) family and doggy-friendly stroll (Easy Access) coinciding with the Wallaceneuk Parkrun on September 9. More challenging was the nine-mile (14.5-kilometre) walk along the River Tweed from Clintmains to Butchercote Craigs, rated as Steady, on September 8. Also on September 8 was an 11.8-mile (19-kilometre) walk along the Borders Abbey Way from Clintmains to Kelso.Scottish Borders Walking Festival lanyards and name tags.The guided walks present opportunities to view abbeys and castles set in rolling countryside that provides habitat for creatures including otters, ospreys and red deer.And as I discovered at a ceilidh held at Kelso Rugby Club, the Scottish Borders Walking Festival is not purely about walking. It’s also a celebration of the community and the camaraderie that is fostered while walking. I enjoyed a haggis meal with fellow walkers before an evening of dancing.The Walking Hub was at Abbey Row Community Centre, which people could drop into to book walks.Abbey Row Community Centre was the organisational hub of the 2023 Scottish Borders Walking Festival.The 2023 walking festivalShirley Redgrave was Chair of the 2023 Scottish Borders Walking Festival, part of a small team which began planning the event in June 2022. She also led five of the festival’s 28 walks, walking approximately 50 miles over the course of the week.“We had four amazing walks each day and a fabulous social programme,” said Shirley after the walking festival had come to an end. “Meeting such amazing people and enjoying their company were the highlights for me. It was such a privilege.”She explained that the challenges to making the walking festival happen included applying for grants and uncertainty relating to the number of participants, as some people were still fearful of taking part in events following the COVID-19 pandemic.Shirley Redgrave, Chair of the 2023 Scottish Borders Walking Festival.Impact on Kelso“Feedback about the 2023 Scottish Borders Walking Festival has been positive, which is absolutely amazing. The traders in Kelso are very happy. The town has been so buzzy. The walkers have been frequenting the cafes, restaurants and shops. When we planned the festival, we wanted to make sure that it was a community event. So all our venues were local facilities like the rugby club, the cricket club and Abbey Row Community Centre. It’s been great,” said Shirley.“I would just like to thank all of our sponsors and everybody who’s attended, from near and far. We’ve had locals, people from all over the country and even overseas visitors. I think we had 195 individual walkers registered for the walks,” she concluded.As a first-time visitor to Kelso, I was impressed by the town and the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. The walking festival provided a reason to visit and I anticipate returning.Floors Castle is one of the historic buildings in the rolling countryside around Kelso, Scotland.Map of KelsoZoom into the Google Map below to locate places of interest in and around Kelso:Map showing Kelso, Scotland. A track used in an easy walk during the 2023 Scottish Borders Walking Festival.Hotels in KelsoLooking for accommodation in Kelso? Find rooms via Booking.com:Booking.comKelso Town Hall on The Square.Books about Scottish Borders WalksKeen to identify walks in the Scottish borders? Find further information in the following books, which you can purchase from Amazon by clicking on the links or cover photos:Cicerone Guides’ Walking in the Scottish Borders: Cheviots, Tweed, Ettrick, Moffat and Manor Hills by Ronald Turnbull:Pathfinder Walking Guide’s Northumberland and Scottish Borders: Outstanding Circular Walks by Dennis and Jan Kelsall: Walks for all Ages: 20 Circular Walks in the Scottish Borders by Hugh Taylor and Moira McCrossan:The Scottish Borders:40 Favourite Walks by Robbie Porteous:Ordnance Survey Landranger map of Kelso and Coldstream (Map 74):Further informationSee the Borders Walking Festival website for information about the 2023 edition of the event. Find out more about Kelso and the surrounding region on the Visit Kelso website.Stuart Forster, the author of this post, is an award-winning travel writer. His work has been published by the likes of National Geographic Traveller, The Mail on Sunday and Love Exploring.The photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.Thanks for reading this post about the Scottish Borders Walking Festival. You may enjoy my post about places to visit in Northumberland.If you enjoyed this post, why not sign up for the free Go Eat Do newsletter? It’s a hassle-free way of getting links to posts once a month.‘Like’ the Go Eat Do Facebook page to see more photos and content.Go Eat Do blog post looking at the 2023 Scottish Borders Walking Festival.You may also enjoy reading these posts:

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