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A perfect escape.. Enjoy truly warm hospitality in historic and naturally beautiful southern Scotland.

SCOTLAND'S Border regions provide an ideal opportunity to get away from it all.

Wildife, birdlife and nature in general are the cornerstones of many people's reasons for heading south.

From the Caerlaverock Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Reserve for birdwatchers to the forests of Glentress enjoyed by cyclists, you'll find visitors enjoying the great outdoors.

Glentress has become the hub for mountain bikers. There are routes within the forest to suit all types of rider - from the race-perfect to the novice and, indeed, the whole family.

As well as bike hire, repair shops, cafes and restaurant, you'll also find places to stay for a whole weekend of bike riding.

For those who prefer to take things a bit easier, the Galloway coastline and the Solway Firth provide sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the town and city.

From Stranraer, the ferries ride over to Ireland. Nearby Portpatrick and Whithorn are a quieter and ideal for a magical weekend away from it all.

The area is steeped in history, with plenty of castles, historic homes and monuments to visit.

It is also a haven for the artist and photographer seeking inspiration from often desolate scenery and stunning sunsets.

Further inland, centuries of welcoming strangers from neighbouring regions have given the Borders towns a reputation for hospitality.

You'll find coaching inns, real ale and a spirit of community. Borderers are also no strangers to fine cuisine, with field fare, game and fish some of the local specialities.

Melrose, Galashiels and Kelso are bustling towns where weekly markets still take place and historic "riding out" ceremonies are a feature of the summer months.

Castles and grand estates such as Mellerstain and Traquair House - where they make their own beer - are a joy for the visitor interested in Scottish history.

There's even the chance to see a ghost, at Abbotsford House, the former home of poet and novelist Sir Walter Scott.

The Borders has a natural beauty, from its forests, moors and hills to the great River Tweed, which provides another great sport - fishing.

And don't forget the golf and the rugby. No matter where you go in the Borders, you'll find a golf club or a rugby club.

Another Borders jewel is Peebles. A former major mill town and market for local farmers, it's also well known as spa resort.

The Peebles Hydro is a fourstar luxury hotel, set in 30 acres.

Back in 1881, it was known as the Peebles Hydropathic Company and its "water cures" were the answer to all manner of ills.

Today, as a family-run concern, the emphasis is on luxury and relaxation.

But that's what the Borders does best - offer rest and relaxation to the weary traveller, as it has done for centuries for those making their way from England to the north and from Ireland to the east coast.

Other than this guide, the website www.visitscotland.co.uk/surprise is a good place to start planning your visit south, for either some great outdoor pursuits or else just places to chill out.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 30, 2011
Words:506
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