Travel review: Rink Hill, Galashiels, Scottish Borders
Discovering this place is breathtaking; all around there are stunning vistas of a landscape which has been etched by the passage of time.
So when the sunlight breaks through the clouds and illuminates the emerald hillside opposite, it is as if time itself is scudding across the hills, shapeshifting along the valley below. The beautiful Scottish Borders have beckoned us, close enough to be convenient for a short break, yet far enough away to feel like you are entering a different world.
We are escaping to Rink Hill near Galashiels, a lovingly created holiday home with all the comforts of a top-end establishment. I will never tire of this panoramic view overlooking the Yair woodland and the Tweed Valley. It has been framed perfectly by floor to ceiling windows in this architectural designed self-catering house for two.
The bespoke building which is nestled or cooried into the landscape, is hidden out of sight a short distance up a farm track. The sturdy exterior walls are made from repurposed stone, but its modern good looks are enhanced by a Scots pine cladding. It’s a low impact building that I would move into in a heartbeat.
The decor makes a unique living space, which wows from the second you open the door. Owners Fiona Bayne and husband Mike have chosen to showcase local suppliers where possible.
Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall, a shop situated in Galashiels, supplied the dining table and stools, while the statement cushions come from Berwickshire-based textile company Orwell & Goode. The comfortable sofa comes from Chrysties, of Hawick, and is ideal for flopping down into after a busy day exploring.
The open plan living space means that you can always be distracted by that view, but the kitchen has everything you need to cook up a storm, including a De’Longhi coffee machine. Even the coffee beans are sourced from a local company based in Selkirk.
Three Hills Coffee, is named after Trimontium, or the three hills which was a Roman Fort. You can discover more by visiting the site itself or the Trimontium Museum of Roman Scotland, Melrose which is open from April to October.
Included in the Rink Hill welcome pack are a couple of bottles of Galashiels brewed beer, made by local husband and wife team Gavin and Annika Meiklejohn from the Tempest Brew Co. Also included is a tasty fruity Selkirk Bannock made by Alex Dalgetty & Sons.
The company uses slow fermentation which gives the bannock its rich flavour, taking 20 hours to produce.
Queen Victoria herself sampled a similar bannock when she visited nearby attraction Abbotsford House. This place was home to Sir Walter Scott, the 19th-century writer famed for writing the Waverley series of novels, as well as popularising tartan, and campaigning to save Scottish banknotes.
He celebrated the romance and history of Scotland which still attracts tourists to this day. His extensive library and eclectic collections of furniture, arms and armour, and other curios are well worth visiting, as are the picturesque estate grounds and walled garden which he created.
You should get outside as the area is a magnet for walkers and cyclists. On two wheels you can hurtle downhill at speed at nearby Innerleithen and Glentress, or take it at a more leisurely pace tootling along the Selkirk cycle pathways.
There are four circular routes which explore Bowhill, Midlem and Lillesleaf, and Ettrickbridge and Yarrow and one practically on the doorstep here; Ettrickfoot and Yair. The routes use quiet roads and paths wherever possible.
Or you can sign up for the Tour o’ the Borders, a closed road sportive which takes you through stunning scenery on beautiful Borders roads, with a date for 2020 confirmed as 6 September.
If fishing is more of your bag, then you are in luck as Rink Hill comes with complimentary permits for trout fishing with salmon fishing available nearby. Adrenaline junkies might be tempted by the Go Ape treetop course near Peebles or sailing on St Mary’s Loch.
It is not that often you get to holiday in a place that makes you feel instantly relaxed. We made sure we soaked up every second watching the last rays of sunshine sink below the hills, before indulging in one last soak in the massive stone bath, spoilt by the luxury of Sanctuary Spa products. After an evening in front of a roaring fire and a wonderful night’s sleep in the bespoke bed, I’m loath to leave for home. ■
Three nights at Rink Hill (www.rinkhill.com, 07870 629244) costs from £550, four nights from £675 and five nights from £750.