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Article published 27/05/2024

Case study | Tweed Valley Canoe Trail

We spoke to Go Tweed Valley, the public face of the Tweed Valley Tourism BID based in the Scottish Borders. They've recently launched a new product - the "Tweed Valley Canoe Trail". 

Hear from Project Manager Rich Rowe about the new trail and how businesses can get involved. He also shares Go Tweed Valley's approach to responsible tourism and the steps they take to embed this into their business practice.

Tell us about Go Tweed Valley?

Go Tweed Valley is the public face of the Tweed Valley Tourism BID – a business-led initiative that aims to turn the area into one of Scotland’s leading year-round activity destinations.

Guided by a business plan that was voted for by participating businesses, we work with and on behalf of more than 100 tourism businesses of all shapes and sizes. The Tourism BID area extends east from West Linton and Stobo, roughly following the River Tweed to encompass Peebles, Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Clovenfords, finishing just west of Selkirk. To the north, Eddleston is also included.

Formed in 2020, we were at the time only the second such tourism-specific Business Improvement District (BID) in Scotland after Visit Inverness Loch Ness, although there is now a third in the shape of Visit Moray Speyside. 

We're expertly supported in our work by a Board of Directors that represent a range of tourism businesses in the area from major hotels to activity providers and attractions.

Ashietiel Bridge

Paddlers experience the River Tweed by canoe

We're now in the final year of our current five-year Tourism BID term. We plan to go to a renewal ballot in early 2025 and hope to gain a mandate to continue our work for a second term through to 2030.

Visit the Go Tweed Valley website

Where are you based and where do you cover?

We're based out of the Go Tweed Valley Visitor Information Centre on Peebles High Street. Housed in a space previously used by VisitScotland for the same purpose, the visitor centre offers visitors a go-to place for local tourism information in the heart of the Tweed Valley.

An important visible presence for Go Tweed Valley, it’s a warm, welcoming space for all to discover more about the people, places, activities and attractions that make this area so special. Find out more about the Information Centre on the Go Tweed Valley website.

In addition, the centre serves as a showcase for the many businesses involved in the Tourism BID, with regularly changing themes, exhibitions and in-person events. It's also highly valued by local residents who use it as a resource for when they have visitors to stay.


Go Tweed Valley centre

Go Tweed Valley Visitor Centre based in Peebles High Street

Tell us about your new product – Tweed Valley Canoe Trail

The trail launched on 1 May following 18 months of work with landowners, fishing interests, river guides and local businesses. The first of its kind in the south of Scotland, the trail runs for 30 miles, starting minutes from Dawyck Botanic Garden and finishing just beyond Sir Walter Scott’s magnificent Abbotsford. Find out more about the route split into six sections.

Strong paddlers might cover the full distance in a single day, but the trail has been designed to be enjoyed over multiple days – or dipped into section by section – allowing time to stop and enjoy the area’s towns, villages and attractions along the way.

Infrastructure along the route is deliberately light touch, with information signage, a series of way marker posts, secure canoe anchor points and a range of paddler-friendly accommodation.

We also have physical maps plus detailed information online to help paddlers enjoy the river safely and responsibly, with particular emphasis on the river’s precious wildlife and ecology.

Our intention is to promote the canoe trail as an experience to enjoy from April to September, so avoiding the peak salmon fishing season in October and November.

As part of its development, Go Tweed Valley has established a donations system that enables paddlers to contribute to ongoing maintenance of the trail, as well as support conservation projects along the river.

The Tweed Valley Canoe Trail has been made possible thanks to generous support from the Fallago Environment Fund, for which we are extremely grateful. Our local authority, Scottish Borders Council, has also been of huge help. Find out more about ways to support the trail on the Go Tweed Valley website.

Find out more about the route sections

How important is responsible tourism to Go Tweed Valley?

It's central to everything that we do. Responsible tourism is better for local communities and local businesses. It's also more rewarding for visitors themselves.

We'd like local communities to see great value in the visitors that come here and for visitors to see equal value in the welcome they receive. We're deeply committed to helping develop a strong, sustainable and high-quality tourism offering, with responsible travel at its core.

Neidpath Castle

Neidpath Castle which sits on the River Tweed and the canoe route

How can tourism businesses get involved with the Trail?

We're pleased to see that the canoe trail has already generated interest from around the world – even featuring on a Canadian radio station’s recent podcast. This is great news in terms of helping attract an international audience to the area – not least the North American market which is known to bring the highest spend amongst visitors to Scotland.

We love how people are interested, not just in paddling the River Tweed, but also experiencing the richness of other activities and attractions on and around the river. This is just what was intended when creating the trail.

There’s a unique opportunity here for local tourism businesses to tap into a wider UK and international audience. Several hotels and self-catering businesses along the trail have already partnered with us on the paddler-friendly accommodation front and we expect more to come on board as interest in the trail develops.

While maintaining appropriate scale, we’d love to see more paddle guides and canoe hire businesses attracted to the area. There's an opportunity for other activity providers, such as fishing instructors and walking tour guides to benefit from the increased visitor numbers too.

Local tourism businesses have seen first-hand the positive economic impact that mountain biking has brought to eateries, pubs and accommodation in the Tweed Valley. We hope that these businesses will embrace our new paddling visitors with open arms, especially those located along the length of the trail.

Keep up with the latest news, media and updates

So, what's in the pipeline for 2024?

It’s never quiet here in the Tweed Valley, so there’s a lot happening in 2024!

As well as monitoring ongoing use of the canoe trail, we will launch a new cycling guide featuring classic bike routes – a physical (and digital) resource for visitors looking to explore the area’s less technical mountain bike trail network.

Work continues on developing motorhome and campervan provision throughout the Tweed Valley. We're helping develop interpretive signage for a fantastic multi-use path that connects the village of Eddleston with Peebles, plus curating the programme for the next Peebles Outdoor Film Festival and Wild Writers Festival at the Eastgate Theatre in January.

And, of course, there's a huge amount of consultation with tourism businesses as we begin work towards a renewal ballot for the Tourism BID in early 2025. Exciting times!

Visit the Go Tweed Valley website

Fairnilee rapids

Fairnilee Rapids on the Tweed Valley Canoe Trail

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