What’s on September


September is Heritage month in the Scottish Borders and there’s lots of exciting events to tempt you.  Sit down with a cup of coffee and the event programme and start booking your tickets – here’s a list of my favourites .  Look out for the  Lammermuir Music Festival, which brings fine musicians and old buildings together.  And don’t forget its Sourdough September, so have a go at making your own bread.

Scottish Borders Heritage Festival – Where people, place and myth & meet

Celebrate the Year of History Heritage and Archaeology, explore our sense of place through the myths and legends of the Border country.  Join in at 90 venues hosting over 200 events including:  living history, storytelling, archaeology, walks, tours, film, theatre, music, exhibitions and re-enactments.
  • Hear haunting ballads from Scocha, Fisher Lassies, Scottish Vocal Ensemble and the Smailholm Singers.
  • Watch sword fighting, skirmishes and musket smoke rising at Eyemouth Fort, Hume Castle and Philiphaugh Estate
  • Become a Covenanter and attend a secret conventicle on Duns Law where you will be invited to sign the covenant in blood!
  • See horsemen ride into Hume Castle with the Marchmont standard after an absence of over 300 years and Lady Hume’s surrender on the battlements
  • Light a lantern or bring a torch to the parades in Duns, Newcastleton and Newark Castle as part of Lighting the Borders
  • Meet Scottish royalty, priests living in terror and a master mason at Traquair House and the Abbeys of Melrose, Dryburgh and Jedburgh
  • Uncover history at St Abb’s archaeological dig and view real time archaeology at Coldingham Priory
  • Remember WW1 through historic cameos, interpretive dance, talks and a day of presentations at Stobs Camp, Dryburgh Abbey, Ormiston Institute and Mac Arts Centre
  • Taste a Norman feast at Riddell Tower and afternoon tea in the Georgian splendour of Paxton House
  • Explore myths, legends and tales of witchcraft at the Heritage Seminar
  • Be Inspired by artist commissions, exhibitions and compositions including premieres of South to Scotland, Light Years, Sounding out the Past and th’Fleety Wud
  • Walk in the footsteps of the romans, drovers and monks at Trimontium, Tweeddale and Old Melrose
  • Create a lantern at our workshops or take a picture for our photography competition.

It’s Sourdough September

The initiative was launched by the Real Bread Campaign in 2013.  This year many Campaign members  in bakeries and baking schools are running classes and tastings. Sourdough is an ancient way of making bread rise without using commercial yeast.  It involves mixing flour and water and living it to ferment to make a starter.  When the starter is ferreting vigorously a portion is mixed with more flour and water to make a dough. Find out more at www.realbreadcampaign.org.  Find books here and sourdough recipes at www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk.


Lammermuir Festival 15-24 September

A remarkable festival that brings the finest musicians together with local people and visitors in celebration of music in towns and villages across the county of East Lothian, nestling between the Lammermuir Hills and the sea. The area’s wealth of beautiful buildings inspires the choice of music and artists. Listen to the wonderful Quatuor Mosaïques in their core repertoire of Haydn and Mozart, pianist Steven Osborne and cellist Alban Gerhardt, Gould Piano Trio, Red Note Ensemble, the Orlando Consort, the Dunedin Consort with Handel, the Hebrides Ensemble with Schubert’s Octet, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with Mahler, and Lars Vogt with three Beethoven piano concertos.  And much more!


Yarrow, Etterick & Selkirk (YES) Festival 14-17th September 

The biennial YES Arts Festival brings together local artists and makers with those from further afield.  A a celebration of the unique culture and heritage of the Scottish Borders.  Poetry, Dance, Music, Walking with James Hogg & a 2 day Myths & Magic Conference.


Doors Open Day Edinburgh 23-24 September 

Edinburgh Doors Open Day is your chance to explore some of Edinburgh’s architecturally and culturally significant buildings – all for free. From heritage landmarks to the city’s newest architecture.  Most not usually open to the public or where normally they would charge an entry fee. The event also offers the public an opportunity to find out more about the capital’s public buildings.  A series of talks begins during the week of 18 September.

Remember to check all venues and activities are open before you leave home.  Charges may apply at venues and for activities please check and book if required.

Steam Train to the Scottish Borders

A steam train trip to the Borders, was on my bucket list for this year.  Last year it was a big sellout so I booked the  tickets early  as a birthday surprise for my friend.  And as a special surprise I booked us first class.  The train took us from  Linlithgow to Tweedbank round the Fife Circle, and back the same route – so we went over the Forth Railway Bridge four times in the same day.  On the way back we were hauled by Diesel from Tweedbank to Niddrie, and then by steam round the Fife Circle and back to Linlithgow.)


Early Start

It was an early start to get to Linlithgow for a 9am (8.53 to be exact) departure.  There was plenty parking in Linlithgow as it was a Sunday, so no hold ups, with trying to find  a parking space.  On the platform there was a growing band of train spotters, passengers and a bemused group of locals waiting for the regular services to Edinburgh and Glasgow.


Black Five Steam train

The Black Five 44781 steamed into the station on time.  Excitedly we made our way to the carriage.  The  first class seats were large and very comfortable.   We had a table for two at the window, complete with white table cloth and a little vase of flowers.   There are 2 buffet cars selling tea, coffee, cakes, confectionary, soft drinks beer, wine and spirits.  There’s also a small shop that stocks a selection of railway books, cards, postcards. calendars, gifts and souvenirs.
Our volunteer stewards (all train enthusiasts of course) did a fabulous job of taking care of us.  One of our fellow guests was a steam train owner and well known to our stewards.  We had booked morning coffee and afternoon tea on the train.  With our morning coffee we got a  warm croissant with jam, a Borders Biscuit and a nice cup of coffee.  Afternoon teas was a more lavish affair, with sandwiches, pork pie, scones and clotted cream and very dainty cakes.  Fortunately we had a light lunch in Melrose (in Apples for Jam) during our 2 hours for touring the town.  Other options were alighting in Galashiels, a trip to Abbotsford or lunch at Seasons in Gattonside.


THE Journey

The timetable gave us a very detailed account of where we were in mileage and times.  So we had a very good idea if we were ahead or behind schedule!  Crossing the Forth Railway Bridge four times was a great highlight.  The  scenery on the Fife Circle, looking down at the silver sands and across to Edinburgh was inspiring.  The views travelling down to the Borders were spectacular.  There  is nothing more soothing, than watching the world go by when  travelling by steam. It was a joy to  look  out the window as you go round a long curve and see the smoke from the engine billowing into the sky.   But the most memorable part of the journey was, that everywhere people came out to look and wave at the train.  There were photographers at strategic points all along the route and at stations.  Train spotters at the stations and small children waving tiny flags.  At each station we stopped you could see the smiles spreading across the faces of travellers waiting on the platforms for their train, as we chuffed past.   In our technology driven world its good to know that there are some old, traditional things that can make us smile and bring joy to our hearts.  So well done to the Scottish Railway Preservation Society, the Museum of Scotland’s Railways at Bo’ness and the Bo’ness & Kineil Railways, for keeping the joy of a ride in a steam train alive.

The Scottish Railway Preservation Society

The trip is run by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society and all profits go to the the Museum of Scotland’s Railways at Bo’ness and the Bo’ness & Kineil Railways.  The Museum of Scottish Railways  is three large buildings full of historic locomotives, carriages and wagons, as well as models, displays and photographs telling the history of building, operating and using railways in Scotland.   A visit to the Museum is a great day out for kids (big and small).  It is rightly recognised by Museums Galleries Scotland as being of national importance to Scotland.
SRPS runs a number of different rail tours across Scotland and beyond, with various pickup points along the way.
  • From Glenrothes to Fort William & Arisaig
  • North Berwick to Plockton & Kyle of Lochalsh
  • Edinburgh to Wick & Thurso
  • Glenrothes to York & Scarborough
  • Edinburgh to Blackpool
  • Inverurie to Oban
  • Ayr to Aviemore & Inverness
  • Linlithgow to Skipton & Saltaire
  • Linlithgow to Lincoln
 So I wonder where we’ll be going next……………