4 Scottish Borders Walks You Would be Mad to Miss


I recently had the pleasure of sitting down over a coffee with Hazel Hall, an exceptional lady who along with her husband John has just bagged her last of 282 Munro’s (Scottish Peaks over 3000ft) by reaching the summit of Ben More.

This love affair with Scottish mountain’s started in 1995 when her and John climbed Ben Nevis, they then set themselves the task of climbing all 282 Munro’s, taking them 10 years to achieve. This feat is in itself exceptional enough but the thing I really love about Hazel is her infectious enthusiasm for Scotland and walking. Not only has she achieved something amazing in her own right but she has inspired countless others including myself (via our various impromptu chats) and two further generations of her own family. [Read more…]

10 Ways to Help Ensure your Holiday Let Guests are Safe from the Risk of Fire

holiday cottageIn this guide I will introduce you to one of the main areas of health and safety for holiday let properties in Scotland – fire safety.

Much of this is covered by legislation that you must comply with.

I will also give you some common sense ideas to help ensure your property is safe. In my next guide I will discuss Gas and Electricity legislation.

If keeping your guests safe is not top of your priority list then it should be! So before you pick the fabric for the duvets or the pillows for the beds think safety first then everyone will be able to sleep well at night.

It is suggested that the risk of injury increases when people are in a property that they are unfamiliar with. You may know every nook, cranny and trip hazard in your house but that doesn’t mean that your guests will.

As a holiday let owner you are ultimately responsible for your guest’s safety and that your property complies with all safety legislation relating to the letting of self-catering accommodation.

Even if no specific legislation exists owners have a duty of care to guests and should adopt a common sense approach to eliminating potential safety hazards.

In conjunction with a sensible approach to risk assessment this should minimise the potential for any accidents or injury.

 Fire Safety

fire safety

Source: The Scottish government

Although the number of fires in Scotland is at a 10 year low, potentially 46 people lost their lives and 1311 were injured due to fire. (2012-2013) In order to minimise this risk at your property and avoid adding to these statistics you must comply with the following. 

Fire Risk Assessment

As the owner no one knows the property better than you and that is why it is your responsibility to carry out a fire risk assessment.

The fire risk assessment  is essentially a common sense review of the property you are responsible for, identifying any potential fire hazards and allowing you to decide whether you have taken adequate precautions to minimise this risk or whether there is more you can do.

The fire risk assessment should be displayed in the property perhaps with the welcome and property information pack that you should provide. If you do not feel confident to carry out the fire risk assessment yourself, you can employ a Fire Safety Consultant to do this on your behalf.

Furniture and Furnishings 

Enforced by the Trading Standards Department, The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988/1989, 1993 and 2010  are designed to set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery.  All furniture (new and second hand) that is affected by the regulations in your property must comply.

Open fires and log burners 


Log burners and open fires are a particular attraction of holiday cottages. The majority of guests will not have one of these at home and whilst this adds to the romance and cosiness of your cottage it also increases the risk of injury from fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

If an open fire or log burner is provided for guests then the chimney must be swept at least annually. In addition to this a fire guard of appropriate size with mess that little fingers cannot poke through should be provided.

It is not only the fire that poses a risk, many people do not realise the danger of hot ashes. Ashes can and often are still hot enough the following day to cause a fire. The ashes should be disposed of in a metal bin kept outside the property.

Lowland Lettings properties have a minimum of one carbon monoxide alarm in each property. The alarm is relatively low cost (around £20) but could be a life saver.

Please do not make the mistake of installing alarm and forgetting about it. The alarm should be tested weekly and as most are battery operated the batteries should be regularly replaced.

You should ensure that any log burners or stoves are fitted by a qualified HETAS engineer.

Smoke alarms and heat detectors

smoke alarm

New building standard guidance published in October 2013 states that there should be

  1. One functioning smoke alarm in every room which is frequently used by the occupants for general daytime activities
  2. One functioning smoke alarm in every circulation space, such as hallways and  landings
  3. One heat alarm in every kitchen
  4. All alarms should be interlinked.

Whilst this is not yet compulsory in holiday let accommodation this is the standard that Lowland Lettings are planning as part of our ongoing maintenance and refurbishment of all of our properties.

As with all aspects of fire safety it is the owner’s responsibility to protect the people using your premises from the risk of fire.

Please note that this also applies to staff members using the property i.e. cleaners etc.  Current benchmarks should be used to reduce the risk of fire in your holiday let property.

When fire strikes there is clear evidence that early warning is a key factor to whether or not people escape unhurt. The vast majority of accidental house fires start in the kitchen.

That is why Lowland Lettings think that it is advisable to have a heat detector fitted in the kitchen. You must also have a wall mounted fire blanket readily accessible, situated between the cooker and an exit from the room.

Again please do not forget about the maintenance of the detectors, these should be tested on a weekly basis and a log kept. This can quite easily be adhered to as normally there is a cleaner in the property at least once a week.

The detectors should also be vacuumed at least every 6 months to remove any dust from the sensors.

Other common sense things to consider:

  1. All doors should be easy to open from the inside and should never be obstructed
  2. All tumble dryers should be regularly cleaned to ensure filter is lint free. Failure to do this can lead to the appliance overheating
  3. Fire retardant waste bins should be provided in the living room and the bedrooms
  4. A torch should be provided to aid evacuation in the event of a fire
  5. Emergency contact numbers and instructions on what to do in the event of a fire should be provided in the welcome and property information pack
  6. Provide Fire extinguishers. Guidance suggests a suitable fire extinguisher at least every 25 metres within the property

Key take aways

In order to reduce the risk of injury or death from fire in your holiday let property you need to do at least these 10 things:

  1. Carry out a Fire Risk Assessment
  2. Ensure all Furniture and Furnishings comply with regulations
  3. Adhere to regulations on log burners and open fires
  4. Fit and maintain adequate smoke and heat detectors
  5. All doors should be easy to open from the inside and should never be obstructed
  6. Fire extinguishers are also advisable. Guidance suggests a suitable fire extinguisher at least every 25 metres within the property
  7. All tumble dryers should be regularly cleaned to ensure filter is lint free. Failure to do this can lead to the appliance overheating
  8. Fire retardant waste bins should be provided in the living room and the bedrooms
  9. A torch should be provided to aid evacuation in the event of a fire
  10. Emergency contact numbers and instructions on what to do in the event of a fire should be provided in the welcome and property information pack.

It is generally acknowledged that relative to other ‘sleeping risk’ premises, the risk from fire to persons in well managed small B&B and self-catering premises is likely to be relatively low. Hopefully this guide will help you to understand your obligations and ensure that this is the case for your properties.

Now it’s your turn

Let us know what steps you take to ensure that your property is safe or any problems you have experienced.


Why a Poor Night’s Sleep Could Make Your Guests Fat

Adventures of A&WMan - Chap 1Research shows that 25% of us have some sort of sleep problem and that people who sleep for less than seven hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese.

Now I’m not suggesting that a 7 night stay in your holiday cottage is going to put the pounds on your guests but getting a good night’s sleep is vitally important generally so why should it be any different when you are on holiday?

Hotels are vying to get you into their beds and some like Premier Inn base their whole advertising campaign on a good night’s sleep even offering a good night guarantee. [Read more…]

Holiday Letting Advice: Are You Barking Mad to Accept Pets?

37-52 the seventh nap of the day is the most important one
Deliberating whether to allow pets in your self catering holiday cottage? Can’t decide which way to go? Well I’m here to tell you that you can profit from either option.

Why would guests want to bring their pets on holiday?

A new poll conducted by Travel Supermarket revealed that two of 5 in the UK now take their pets on holiday. The survey of 2010 pet owners also showed that 13% would rather go on holiday with their animal than their partner!

To me guest’s holiday with their pets for two reasons:

Avoidance of separation anxiety for both parties. Our relationship with pets can be quite extreme and sometimes just plain weird. We buy them gifts not just restricted to birthdays and Christmas.

We talk to them in a baby voice referring to ourselves as ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’. They sleep in our beds. We tell them our deepest secrets. [Read more…]

If you go down to Pressmennan Woods today you are in for a big surprise…

Go in search of mystical creatures known as Glingbobs and Tootflits who reside in what is believed to be the last traces of Scotland’s Ancient oak woodland. Pressmennan woods run by the Woodland Trust Scotland is a truly enchanting place situated in beautiful East Lothian countryside, near to the village of Stenton. With amazing views to the Bass Rock and beyond this magical woodland is rich in wildlife and you may be lucky enough to glimpse a Roe deer roaming through the trees or otter fishing in the lake. Woodpeckers can be heard high in the trees and if you dare to enter after dusk you may see bats and owls searching for food.

[Read more…]

Rally Round for 40th Anniversary

Saturday March 17th 2012 is set to be one of the highlights of the local motorsport calendar when the Borders Counties Rally celebrates its 40th anniversary with a special stage of the event to raise much needed funds for two local charities; the Borders Children’s Charity and the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

The Borders Children’s Charity provides children in the Borders who are in desperate need of beds, bedding, bedroom furniture, floor rugs, clothing and footwear. They also assist with equipment and funding for both physical and mental disability needs and provide much needed treats and holidays for young carers.  This allows children who are often in extremely stressful situations an opportunity to enjoy themselves even just for a short while which can make all the difference.

[Read more…]

Scottish Borders in bid to be Scotland’s leading cycling destination

The Scottish Borders is cranking up a gear to become Scotland’s leading cycling destination with the launch of the new look website www.cyclescottishborders.com. The site is crammed full of information on routes, forthcoming events, places to stay and things to do. It has fantastic interactive maps that allow you to search routes by town, level, distance and even altitude gain.  The new look site is the first result of a £175000 grant provided from Europe, LEADER and the Scottish Government to The Scottish Borders Recreational Cycling project. The project is a partnership between local businesses and public agencies including Scottish Borders Council, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland. The groups aim is to establish the Borders as the leading cycling destination in Scotland and maximise the opportunities for the whole area by attracting cyclists.

The area has long been a favourite destination for cyclists with its stunning scenery and relatively quiet, traffic free roads.  The area is now renowned for its world class mountain

A typical quiet Scottish Borders road

A typical quiet Scottish Borders road

biking facilities the 7 stanes, offering seven biking trail centres, including the famous Glentress, that span the South of Scotland.

The Scottish Borders boasts more Cyclists are Welcome accredited accommodation providers and attractions than anywhere else in the country.  Couple this with the stunning scenery and the guaranteed warm Scottish Borders welcome and you can see why the Borders is the ideal destination for a cycling break.

The Scottish Borders has been given the honour of hosting the 2011 Tour of Britain cycling event which begins in Peebles on September 11th and culminates in London on 18th September.  This first stage heads from Peebles along the Tweed valley and past the multi award winning mountain biking centre at Glentress. Then on to Innerleithen where the town will have the honour of hosting the first ever intermediate sprint. This is yet another indication of The Scottish Borders’ rising status within the cycling world.

Why not get on your bike and see for yourself if the claim to be Scotlands leading cycling destination is a legitimate one for The Scottish Borders.

Broaden your Tweed Horizons – 4 new Border cycle rides to experience.

A wonderful new guide written by Mark Porter and published by Cycle Guides Jedburgh entitled Tweed Horizons is available which details four new border cycle rides. The guide is highly informative, free and fits in your pocket.  Each ride is detailed with information on what to do and see places to stay and eat and many interesting facts about each area. The thing that grabbed me most about this guide though was the photography. The guide really illustrates the beautiful Borders countryside at its best; this will appeal to everyone not just cyclists. The Borders is a super location for cycling with quiet roads, magnificent

Rush hour on a Borders road

Rush hour on a Borders road

scenery and a multitude of places to stay and eat all with a typical warm Borders welcome thrown in.





The guide covers four new rides:

Tweed & Castles: 25mile (40km) easy moderate ride taking in Cornhill – Coldstream – Norham – Etal – Branxton – Cornhill. This route takes you through stunning scenery passing the 12th Century battle weary Norham Castle and on to the Flodden Fields where the Scottish casualties were high on that day nearly 500 years ago. Well worth a stop is Ford and Etal which has a miniature railway linking the two and a fabulous tea room and pub. The village is immaculate and the inexpensive food is delightful, you might share a pint with a Morris dancer here in the summer.


Norham Castle has a turbulent past

Norham Castle has a turbulent past


Kelso via the Bonny Banks: 25 mile (40km) easy/ moderate ride taking in Kelso- Eccles- Birgham- Coldstream – Cornhill. Kelso is a bustling market town with a Flemish style cobbled market square and was once described by Sir Walter Scott as the most beautiful, if not the most romantic village in the whole of Scotland. Once visited few would disagree. There is so much to see and do in Kelso from the magnificent Floors Castle, home to the Duke & Duchess of Roxburghe to the mighty junction pool where the Rivers Tweed & Teviot meet; you may struggle to start your journey!

The route takes you through delightful picture perfect villages where again you will be met with a warm Borders welcome.

Battlefield Trail: 34 miles (55km) moderate difficulty taking in Branxton – Kirknewton – Kirk Yetholm.

The scenery on this route will take your breath away with many 360 degree vistas across the rolling Borders countryside. The route will also take you past Hoselaw Chapel and Hoselaw Loch an important wildlife reserve with the rolling Cheviots in the back ground, a truly inspiring and tranquil spot. You will also visit Kirk Yetholm which sits at the end of the Pennine Way and is a main stage in the St Cuthbert’s Way Walk, a 62km walk from Melrose where St Cuthbert is said to have begun his monastic life to the breath-taking Holy Island where he ended his days. Here you will find the delightful Border Hotel where fine food and beer awaits.

Moorland, Coast & River: the Holy loop: 65mile (104 km) demanding ride taking in Flodden Field – Ford – Doddington – Belford – Holy Island – Berwick – Norham – Colstream – Cornhill – Flodden Field.

The highlight of this ride I would say is the breath taking Holy Island which the guide says you will need to set off early if you wish to take this detour. Crossing the causeway and visiting the island is an absolute delight but make sure you have checked the tide times as you would not be the first to get stranded on the causeway!

This is a fantastic guide detailing some wonderful rides throughout the hidden gem that is the The Borders.  The scenery and the people will remain with you forever and keep you coming back again and again and again!

Follow the Tree Trail at Bowhill Selkirk, Scottish Borders

Bowhill is home to the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry and encompasses 63,500 acres with a huge variety of tree species to be found in the surrounding woodland. The Tree Trail at Bowhill is one of 5 way marked paths on the estate and takes you on a wonderful journey through beautiful scenery in search of some of the finest trees in the grounds. Discreet natural pathways that cut through the meadows lead to 19 different and very fine examples of species of trees. [Read more…]

Hawick Golf Club appoints its first PGA qualified golf professional – Keith Morgan.

There has been much to speak about on the Vertish Hill at Hawick Golf Club so far this year. The club has recently run a new membership initiative which has attracted over a hundred new members, which in current economic times is no mean feat. This is clearly a culmination of great efforts from many individuals from within the club to raise standards and promote the clubs facilities, and move the club firmly onto an upward spiral.

The hard work put in by this year’s Captain Roddy McIntyre, & his vice Ryan Lyle along with the committee, have effectively helped raise the clubs profile with a number of new initiatives.

Firstly the club rooms and Bar have had a complete makeover, where Roddy and several members gave their own time to create an environment where you can now relax and enjoy after round food and drinks, from the new superb catering now on offer, or equally be at home at any of the clubs functions, or just bring the family up for a meal. [Read more…]