Caddon View adds to Innerleithen's cafe culture
Press, Steve and Lisa Davies.JPG

Caddon View, an award-winning country guest house and restaurant in Innerleithen, has undergone its latest transformation, with owners Steve and Lisa Davies (pictured) creating a whole new food and drink experience this summer.

Last month, the couple unveiled The Sitooterie, a stylish new cafe tucked away in a delightfully-secret spot overlooking the house’s hidden garden, which has already gained a strong following amongst visitors and locals alike.

Steve and Lisa have run Caddon View for the past 12 years, gradually upgrading the 160-year-old former Victorian doctor’s surgery and turning it into one of the area’s most acclaimed accommodation and restaurant options.

During this time, Caddon View has won a host of major tourism awards. It was recently the Scottish nominee in the Friendliest B&B category of the AA’s prestigious B&B Awards for 2019. It has also previously won Scottish Guest House of the Year, plus Scottish Taste Awards and Hospitality Gold Medals at the Scottish Hotel Awards, and is listed in both the Michelin Guide and Good Hotel Guide. 

The new café serves morning coffee, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, plus a daily changing evening menu that was previously served in Caddon View’s acclaimed restaurant.

“The food ethos remains the same as in our award-winning restaurant, with local, seasonal food, all freshly prepared on site,” explained Steve. The list of local suppliers includes Burnside Farm Foods, Tempest Brewery, Shaws Meats and Terroir Wines.

The next stage of the café’s development will be to host wine-tasting events and other themed evenings that will appeal to local residents as well as visitors staying at Caddon View.

Steve and Lisa’s plans are just the latest example of tourism innovation in a town that is full of growth and energy – with a variety of high-quality shops, galleries and accommodation having opened in Innerleithen over the past year or so.

In June, the town hosted the inaugural Transcend Bike Festival, while planning for a Mountain Biking Centre of Excellence in the heart of Innerleithen, plus construction of a world-class bike park, are at an advanced stage.

“These are exciting times for Innerleithen,” commented Steve. “With our new café venture, we’re delighted to add to the buzz!”

Further info

The Sitooterie is open 9am-5pm, Tues to Sat. Dinner reservations also available from 7pm. For more, call Caddon View on 01896 830208, or visit www.caddonview.co.uk

Rich Rowe
Hub lights up Innerleithen High Street
Pauline Archibald at the Hub on the High Street, Innerleithen

Pauline Archibald at the Hub on the High Street, Innerleithen

For the Archibalds, the family behind the latest addition to Innerleithen High Street, some opportunities are just too good to resist. Pauline Archibald recently opened the Hub on the High Street, a high-quality gift shop in the heart of the town – although that is only half of her plan for the new business.

Pauline, her sister-in-law Marie and husband Danny are already well known in the area as owners of Headcases hair studio – which operates a salon in Penicuik and one inside Peebles Hydro – as well as running a busy holiday let in Innerleithen itself.

Already with experience in tourism having worked in the industry overseas for many years, Pauline knows all about how to welcome visitors to an area. “When the building came up for sale, we knew it would be perfect for what we had in mind,” she explained.

With the shop staffed together with friends Carmel Scott and Hayley Cameron, the emphasis is very much on showcasing bespoke products from local producers, artists and manufacturers. One corner of the shop is devoted to a range of craft gins from the likes of Lilliard, Holyrood Gin, Selkirk Distillers, Kerr’s and Gin Bothy, plus beers from Born in the Borders, Traquair and Tempest Brewery, and mixers and soft drinks from Bon Accord. Nearby there are condiments from Damn Good Jam and chocolates from Ruby and Cocoa.

The shop also brims with local arts and crafts, with art, gift cards and gin lamps from Lesley Johnson Shedio Art, wool art and cards from Juniper Cards, handmade gifts from Phabulous Pheasant, pictures from Inspired by Tweed, candles from Carol’s Creations and Love Scottish Candles, plus soaps and shampoos from The Soap Farm.

Other local items include bike accessories from Wee Cog, canvasses from Ian Linton Photography, slate art from Hatch, Burn, Carve, recycled items from Recycled Vegan and cards from artist Mary Kenny.

Meanwhile, those who have visited the craft workshops at Traquair will also recognise the handmade jewellery and leather craft from Centaur Design, plus quirky violin clocks made by Kenneth McQueenie from his Driftwood Studio.

“High Streets are known to be struggling up and down the country and now people are looking for more bespoke, one-off gifts – it’s gone back to supporting local again,” explained Pauline. “We felt Innerleithen was ready for a shop like this where you can pick up small gifts and save a trip further afield. We’d like the shop to be for Innerleithen, as well as for visitors.”

But the gift shop is just one part of the plan for the building. As Pauline explained, it will soon also include a visitor centre with an accompanying website where local businesses will be able to advertise what’s on offer in the area – from cafés, restaurants and activities to accommodation, sights and attractions.

“We’ve got so much going on locally and we need to let people know that this is such a great place to visit and spend more time in.”

Further info

The Hub on the High Street is at 33 High Street, Innerleithen. The shop is open seven days a week: 10am-6pm, Mon - Sat; 12am-5pm, Sun. For more information, including for businesses wishing to be involved in the new visitor centre, contact Pauline or Carmel on 01896 209012.  

Rich Rowe
Draft business plan published
Runners beneath Neidpath Castle, credit Ian Linton Photography.jpg

Following detailed consultation with a wide range of local tourism businesses, the Tweed Valley Tourism BID Steering Group has published its draft, five-year business plan, which outlines an exciting vision for developing the Tweed Valley into a world-class activity destination. 

As part of presenting the case for developing a Tourism Business Improvement District (BID) for the Tweed Valley, the document provides further detail on how a Tourism BID will benefit local businesses, what priority investments will be made, and which businesses will be involved.

Crucially, it also details the banded scale of levy fees that have been set as a means of ensuring that all tourism businesses, including those owning multiple properties, participate in and contribute to the Tourism BID. The banded levy structure is seen as the most equitable way of funding additional projects that businesses in the area have said they would like to see developed, but which the public sector is not required to provide.

With around 120 participating tourism businesses, it is expected that the levy fees will generate an income of around £80,000 a year, or £400,000 over the five-year period. However, this amount is very much a start rather than an end point as funds raised by private business will be used to leverage match funding from the public sector, as well as maximise joint funding opportunities and ‘in kind’ support that will benefit tourism in the Tweed Valley.

“As a business owner in the Tweed Valley for more than 30 years, I have witnessed the many fluctuations of tourism in this area,” said Catherine Maxwell Stuart from Traquair House, and Chair of the Tweed Valley Tourism BID. “What has been particularly clear is that the Tweed Valley has benefitted significantly from the development of mountain biking, cycling and other outdoor activities which, together, have increased visitor numbers and spawned many new tourism businesses.”

The Steering Group, which consists of representatives from a range of tourism businesses in the Tweed Valley, believes a Tourism BID is the perfect vehicle for further developing the area’s tourism product, adding the kind of focus, energy and resources that will take the Tweed Valley to a whole new level as a destination.

“A Tourism BID will enable local businesses to shape the future of tourism in the area and be at the heart of the decision-making process,” added Catherine. “With local input and support, the Tourism BID will fund and deliver projects that will help businesses grow and secure a strong, sustainable tourism industry for years to come.”

Local tourism businesses are now invited to read through the draft business plan and submit feedback. All comments received will help inform and shape a final, and far more detailed, business plan that will be presented to businesses in June ahead of the Tourism BID ballot scheduled for the Autumn.

The draft business plan has an accompanying list of Frequently Asked Questions which can be read here. Comments on the draft business plan should be sent to Emma Guy, Project Coordinator at tweedvalleyemma@gmail.com by the end of April.

Photo: Runners on the Tweed Valley Tunnel Trail Run beneath Neidpath Castle - Ian Linton Photography

Rich Rowe
Bringing tourism best practice to the Tweed Valley
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Representatives from more than 20 local tourism-related businesses gathered at the Union Club, Innerleithen last week to learn more about how best tourism practice from elsewhere in the world can inform plans for the Tweed Valley Tourism Business Improvement District (BID).

Hosted by Emma Guy, Project Coordinator for the Tweed Valley Tourism BID, the evening saw presentations from Ed Shoote, Scottish Cycling’s Tweed Valley Mountain Bike Coordinator, and Gordo Hodge, Team Director of Adrenalin Rehab Bike Holidays. Although both come very much from biking – and in Gordo’s case also snowsports – backgrounds, the presentations were very much about how destinations can create well-rounded tourism products that appeal to a broad range of interests.

Ed, who is also a widely-published cycling journalist and bikepacking adventurer, highlighted a recent visit to Park City in Utah, USA, where he was hosted as part of a media fam trip. As Ed revealed, he expected the trip to be all about bikes, but was instead also treated to many of the area’s other attractions, from great food and drink to live music, fly fishing, horse riding and road cycling.  

His presentation reflected on the many similarities between Park City and the Tweed Valley – not least in terms of terrain, size, proximity to a major airport and the wide range of activities and attractions available. And like the Tweed Valley, Park City is a place that has grown considerably over the past decade, attracting an audience that likes to experience the outdoors in a variety of different ways.

“One of the biggest things that struck me about the trip was what a joined-up offer they had,” explained Ed. “The quality of the bike trails is there for all to see, but they are tied in closely with everything else that is available and the whole culture of the place. It works really well.”

It’s a theme that was continued by Gordo Hodge who discussed his experience of building tourism packages in countries such as Italy and Canada, before outlining why he thought the Tweed Valley bore close comparison to such destinations. Gordo also explained the great appeal of the area and the reasons for bringing his company, which includes the Adrenalin Uplift service at Innerleithen and Glentress, to the Tweed Valley.

“It’s an area with everything,” he said. “Packaged right, and with solid branding, the Tweed Valley could grow to become another of the world’s outstanding destinations for outdoor activities. That’s what the area is good at. I’d say, play to your strengths and build from there.”

And this is exactly where the Tweed Valley Tourism BID will come in, explained Emma as part of the lively Q&A that followed. “I’d like to thank all the businesses who attended, and for all the feedback given,” she said. “It’s exactly this kind of close consultation with tourism businesses that will help shape the BID and, ultimately, enable us to realise the potential of the Tweed Valley to become a world-leading tourism destination.”

Rich Rowe
Tweed Valley Tourism BID visitor survey
Enjoying the Peebles CAN Saturday market, Peebles High Street

Enjoying the Peebles CAN Saturday market, Peebles High Street

Having conducted an extensive online survey asking how tourism businesses would like to see the industry develop locally, the Tweed Valley Tourism BID project is now looking to gather similar feedback from recent visitors to the area.

As with the online survey of businesses, the Tourism BID team has created a short survey for visitors to answer – with responses feeding into the development of the wider Tourism BID business plan.

The survey asks visitors about their recent visit, including highlights and what could have been done differently and, more importantly, better. The aim is to discover what visitors most value about the area and how local tourism businesses can work together to make the visitor experience even better on every level.

Local tourism businesses are now being asked to share the link to the visitor survey in their own customer communications. The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/tweedvalley

Rich Rowe
Excellent response to Tourism BID business survey
Visitors enjoy some extreme juggling at this year’s Traquair Medieval Fayre

Visitors enjoy some extreme juggling at this year’s Traquair Medieval Fayre

We have seen a hugely enthusiastic response to the initial Tweed Valley Tourism BID survey, with valuable feedback and strong messages about how businesses would like the area to develop as a tourism destination in years to come. 

Sent to more than 170 tourism-related businesses, the survey is part of the first stage of an extensive consultation with accommodation providers, activity companies, retailers, restaurants and others with an interest in tourism in the Tweed Valley. 

The survey asked businesses a series of questions exploring their views on everything from access and infrastructure, advocacy, marketing and promotion and the visitor experience to the relative importance of specific markets, activities, events and festivals. 

The questions clearly struck a chord, generating not only a large number of responses from a cross-section of businesses, but also some very detailed ones. 

Although the consultation process remains very much in its early stages, the responses demonstrated some clear initial priorities. Chief among them is improving the wider visitor experience, in part through the provision of better, more accessible information about the area and understanding the different needs of various visitor segments.  

The Tweed Valley is lucky to have a wide range of activities and experiences to offer visitors, and it is exactly this mix that is key to many businesses. Survey responses told us that while mountain biking is, unsurprisingly, important to local businesses, so too are activities such as walking, wildlife watching, plus arts, cultural and historical experiences. This reinforces the aim of the BID to build a business plan that is layered around not just bike-related activities, but also a wide range of other activities to offer a complete visitor experience. 

Building a strong, recognisable Tweed Valley brand is another important theme identified from the survey, as is promoting that brand through a mix of specific marketing campaigns, online presence and traditional print media such as leaflets and maps for visitors. Other priorities identified by the survey include the importance of collective marketing, engaging with national tourism bodies to promote the area, plus leveraging the area’s prime geographical position to take better advantage of key transport networks from north and south. 

"We’ve received so many good ideas and feedback from this initial survey, with a lot of businesses commenting on the same points and issues,” commented Emma Guy, Project Coordinator for the Tweed Valley Tourism BID. “There is real enthusiasm for driving the tourism product forward in the area and the importance of working collectively to make that happen."

This feedback will now be used to help shape the creation of a comprehensive, five-year business plan for the Tourism BID. This will be prepared between September and November, with further consultation, including group meetings with businesses throughout the Tweed Valley, planned for that period.

Further info

Businesses that have not yet had a chance to complete the survey are still very welcome to do so - the more input received, the better. The survey is available online here

 

Scott Noble