Ride Scotland’s Horse Country grew from the Tweed Trails/South of Scotland Countryside Trails project managed by Southern Uplands Partnership more than ten years ago. That project put in place 350 kms of waymarked routes suitable for equestrian use. These routes linked northern England with the existing Hawick Circular ride and went through to Biggar and as far as Ae in Dumfries and Galloway.
Gowan Miller was employed as Ride Scottish Borders Project Coordinator from December 2017 until December October 2020 when funding ceased. The project sought to promote the region as a centre for riding holidays and worked to develop collaborative working and marketing based on the extensive network of local riding routes.
The website www.ridescottishborders.com continues to grow and develop, with over 30 equestrian and rider-suitable accommodation providers listed on it. All the accommodation businesses link into the trails and a solid network is developing, meaning visitors have more choice and can ride through the Borders on a network of routes. Route maps also provide skill-level guidance. Catering options during rides and at destinations are also highlighted, as are opportunities to visit attractions and events for family and friends for rest days during the rides. Ride Scottish Borders also won the Regional Thistle Awards run by VisitScotland as an example of the best in “collaborative tourism”. Thanks to NatureScot funding, SUP contracted Gowan Miller, Marianne Bailey and Kiersten Aram to undertake further development work looking at: a South Scotland equestrian network; a South of Scotland website; a Big Houses tour and a Festival of the Horse for 2022/3. The report on their work looks at how the Ride Scottish Borders approach can be extended across into Dumfries and Galloway and includes proposals for a refreshed Festival of the Horse and a “Big Houses” riding trail. The report is available on the Publications page.