Towns and villages across the Scottish Borders are gearing up for the upcoming season of special events and one of the area’s most spectacular traditions – the Common Ridings.
Hundreds of horses and riders will turn out in 11 separate festivals to take part in each town’s annual ride-out – a celebration of the centuries old riding of the Boundaries. The tradition harks back to the days when the magistrates and burgesses of the town made an annual inspection of the various markers that outlined the ground belonging to the town. Each town has its own special week of events each summer that combines with various ride-outs with parades, music and song.
The rides are the most spectacular element of each festival and can over 300 horses and riders gallop across open fields, through rivers and up hillsides and parade through town centres behind an elected principal rider that bears the town flag as they follow the historic boundary lines. They can last anywhere from four to ten hours and often include a ceremonial element.
It’s an amazing sight, with almost everyone from each town turning out to cheer on the riders and wish them luck and a safe journey with the phrase – ‘Safe Oot, Safe In!’ Many of the rides start first thing in the morning so if you want to see them for yourself, you’ll need to be prepared for an early start.
Hawick is the first of the larger town ride-outs and this year’s Common Riding Festival takes place from 5 to 11 June, with the main ride-out being held on Friday, 10 June 2016.
In Hawick the traditional ride-out is combined with a commemoration of the young men who successfully defended Hawick from a raiding party at the Battle of Hornshole in 1514. Following the disastrous Battle of Flodden in 1513, where all Hawick’s menfolk between the ages of 16 and 60 were killed, it was heard that a raiding party was approaching and the young men of Hawick decided to defend their town. They surprised and defeated the invaders who had camped at Hornshole, taking their banner and riding triumphantly back to town. Although small in scale, the victory was a huge boost to the town’s pride after the Flodden defeat.
The main ride outs for each town take place on the dates below, although dates should be confirmed before travel:
- West Linton – Saturday, 4 June 2016
- Hawick – Friday, 10 June 2016
- Selkirk – Friday, 17 June 2016
- Melrose – Monday, 13 June 2016
- Peebles – Wednesday, 22 June 2016
- Galashiels – Saturday, 2 July 2016
- Jedburgh – Friday, 8 July 2016
- Duns – Saturday, 9 July 2016
- Kelso – Saturday, 23 July 2016
- Langholm – Friday, 29 July 2016
- Coldstream – Thursday, 4 August 2016
- Lauder – Saturday 6, August 2016
These events are the most familiar example of the heritage and traditions of the Scottish Borders but the region is also filled with stunning countryside and history and makes a wonderful holiday destination at any time of the year.
We have a selection of fabulous cottages in gorgeous locations in the area, ranging from romantic retreats for two, to beautiful family friendly cottages that are perfect for a relaxing break or a larger family get-together. We even have some properties that allow you to bring along your own horse, should you fancy riding in some of the beautiful countryside yourself.
Click here to discover more or call 01835 822277 where a member of our friendly team will have lots of suggestions of great places in the region for you to stay.