The family-friendly Scottish Borders

We've put together a round up of where to go and what to do around the Scottish Borders this autumn. All locations are open and following Scottish Government Covid-19 regulations and guidelines - as of 11 October 2020 - but please make sure you get in touch with them before turning up to avoid disappointment.


The Scottish Borders is a great place for children, with an abundance of family-friendly activities and attractions - indoors and outdoors - to keep everyone happy even in these tricky times.


We've picked out some of our favourites to help you make the most of your precious family time. Why not watch this little trailer from Visit Scotland, then dive on into the listings below? This isn't a comprehensive list - so get in touch if you have a suggestion of your own and we can add it to the page.


Beirhope alpacas

Family fun with alpacas. Their guided treks round the local hillside are a firm family favourite, with a range of activities from a gentle stroll to a three hour trek. Or for little legs, there’s a 30 minute Meet a Paca session. In which you meet an alpaca and your hosts promise to answer all your alpaca-related questions, so don’t forget to prompt the little ones to ask them where baby alpacas come from… They’ve got availability and are taking bookings online, with plenty of hand washing and social distancing going on.


The Wild Outdoors

For those who prefer not to wrap the kids in cotton wool, something to get them out and about and off the Xbox. Tree climbing, archery, scavenger hunts: what's not to like? They’re running activity camps at Thirlstane Castle all week with a day ticket priced at £35, and at Longridge Towers school the week after. Check with them for details.


Eyemouth Rib Trips

The half hour fast blast is popular but take a look at the Coastal Exploration trip which sets a more leisurely pace taking in the Burnmouth sea caves, smuggling haunts and round past St Abbs head, home to thousands of seabirds. There's a chance of dolphins too. You’ll need to wear a mask and it’s best to book ahead, but a great family-friendly activity.


Traquair House & Maze

They’re open and even offering bookable tours of the 900 year old house - the oldest inhabited house in Scotland. Great for all the family but the maze in the garden is a favourite with children. Parents particularly attached to their offspring can shout directions from the terrace to help them find their way out. One household at a time, bookable. There’s a cafe and children’s playground too.


Go ape at Glentress

For those with a head for heights, there are still adventures in the trees of the Glentress forest to book with Go Ape near Peebles. It’s a beautiful location, with plenty of wildlife including red squirrels, and there’s a 50 metre high zip wire that runs for 325 metres and a full high ropes course. They’ve got full social distancing and hygiene in place - best to check with them direct to see what experiences are open.



Paxton House

The grounds of Paxton House are open and offering free admission for under 16s. There’s 80 acres of gardens, woodland and riverside and an adventure playground with a zip wire. The house is on the Scottish side of the border, close to Berwick on Tweed.


Trimontium Roman Fort and Museum

Think the Romans stopped at Hadrian’s Wall and never ventured any further north? Think again. At the foot of the Eildon Hills lies the site of a major Roman fort (and there was a signal station on one of the hills, should you fancy a climb and a spectacular view). There’s not much to see of the fort now but information boards and viewing platforms help to bring it alive and get you out in the fresh air and there’s a temporary museum in Abbey House, Melrose, with free admission to learn all about the Romans in Scotland.


Abbotsford House

The house is open and well worth a couple of hours to learn more about one of Scotland's greatest writers and his extraordinary life. Outside there’s a family playtrail in the neighbouring woodland. Keep an eye out for otters on the river. There’s a family-friendly cafe too.


Bowhill Estate

The house and adventure playground are closed but the grounds still offer somewhere for children to let off steam and lovely walks for all the family, with beautiful autumn colour on the trees around both lochs.


Cycling

There’s excellent mountain biking at Glentress and for a selection of road and cycle path routes from the heart of the Scottish Borders, there’s a downloadable guide with some suggestions. There are several companies offering bike hire and e-bike hire.

Border E-Bike Hire, Kelso

Diamond Cycle Centre

Tweed E-Bike Hire


Fishing

Fisherman Bill Drew offers family friendly fly fishing, with individual tuition or small groups, for all ages and levels of experience with access to some of the best beats.


Also try:


Jim Clark Motorsport Museum - in Duns, open Friday to Monday. Discover the story of one of the world’s greatest racing drivers of all time. They’ve got a new museum trail for children.

Gunsgreen House - private exclusive self-guided tours of this great little smuggling museum in Eyemouth. Great fun for children.


Thirlestane Castle - open to small groups for pre-booked guided tours


The Hirsel Arts and Crafts Centre - family friendly day out, Coldstream


Jacksons at Jedburgh - working farm


Harestanes - play park, cafe, shop, near Jedburgh


Floors Castle - Scotland's largest inhabited castle with children's playground