“The Tweed Valley”. This wasn’t an expression I had heard until I moved to Peebles. This is despite being born on the Tweed (north bank for the avoidance of doubt) and spending many formative years doing water sports at its mouth.
So why has it taken me so long to plan a canoe trip down it? A perennial obsession on cycling up the steep hills that rise from its meandering banks at this Western end of its winding path may explain it, but I’ve also been waiting for our kids to be old enough to accompany me on a leisurely float down some of the Scottish borders most scenic river way.
Lockdown also hasn’t helped; I’ve been speaking with Craig from Biggar Adventure for around 18 months now. Waiting for weather, river conditions and government guidance to align and here we are then – May 2021. Easter snows have passed, and river levels and temperature are conducive to a 4hr float down the Tweed from Cardrona to Yair. I enlisted other intrepid adventurers (Duncan and Holden from @Overland Scotland) to give us company and their camping wisdom to ensure I’m not seen as a failure on the fire lighting front and of course Craig to ensure our safety during the half day paddle downstream.
The Tweed close to its origin is relatively wide, shallow and gentle. But the family dimension of the trip requires that we make it as safe as possible and an experienced, qualified river guide is the insurance policy we need to relax and enjoy the adventure.
Setting up camp
Let the adventure begin
Having dropped our camping gear down river Craig met us at Cardrona just ½ mile from the hotel. This meant we could drift down river unladen with all the trappings we needed to enjoy our camping in its own right.
With a short picnic lunch on an island close to Inner’s, the journey was interspersed with some fun faster sections where the river flowed quickly through some shallow channels and slower sections that required more paddling. Even the faster sections were easily navigable and low consequence, despite needing some teamwork and paddling at both ends of the canoe.
3.5 hrs/20km, several 360-degree spins and only a couple of “are we there yet” incidents we arrived at Glenkinnon with a mild sense of fatigue and some sun kissed faces. Happy to be on dry land the campsite was only a few minutes’ walk with Craig taking care of canoe logistics.
Good times on the water
Biggar Adventure keeping us right
All that remained was to gather some firewood, BBQ some snags and enjoy some of the valley’s other delights in the glorious evening sun that flooded a beautiful little camping spot.
As it turned out a slight over enjoyment of the Uisge beatha was entirely wise as an unseasonably hard frost set in overnight. Between the fresh air, “water of life” and the superb tepee style tents provided by Craig a good night sleep was still had.
Another BBQ breakfast was all that was needed to finish off a superb first canoe trip only a stone’s throw from the hotel.
A well deserved Long White Cloud
The other “Water of Life”
Please see our family packages section for more ideas on itineraries and of course www.biggaradventure.co.uk for a full list of the outdoor activity options Craig can provide.
We would heartily recommend this as a great family adventure for a diverse age range or as an adult only excursion.