10 Things to do with the Kids in the Scottish Borders

Knowing what to do with the kids on holiday, is challenging,  More so if your not familiar with the area.  Here’s all the activities we’ve tried over the years that our kids loved.  Bowhill Adventure Playground is always a big hit and despite the fact they’re all ageing teenagers they still love it!  We’ve included activities for hot days as well as cooler days!    We’ll be adding another post soon on more things to do with the kids in the Scottish Borders.  So look out for it.


Kids go wild in the woods

Kids of all ages can go wild in Bowhill’s Adventure Playground and soft play area.  There’s a  full programme of activities and events throughout the year to tempt you back again and again.  Make sure you get at the “Pay Once Pass” for unlimited access  during the open season.  There are two exciting zip-wires, each spanning an impressive 30 metres in length.   Two slides – a 12-metre tunnel slide and an eight-metre-long open slide.  There’s also a world of information about walks, wildlife, flora and fauna just waiting for you.  So if you have a young Tarzan or Dora the Explorer take them along to the Bowhill Adventure Playground.  Take a picnic or enjoy the family friendly cafe on site.  Located 3 miles west of Selkirk on the A708, the Moffat/St Mary’s Loch Road (TD7 5ET).


Try your hand at being a printers apprentice

Robert Smail Printing Works is a piece of printing history.  Since the 1908s it has been in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.   It is a living museum of a thriving printing firm, whose premises changed very little for over a century.  It celebrates a vital part of our industrial heritage and social history by giving you a hands on demonstration of how things used to be printed.  The machinery is kept in good working order and is still used today for a variety of commercial print jobs.  The Smail family were notorious hoarders.  You can view the 52 scrapbooks covering  every  job they did for nearly 100 years! Complete with dates and number of copies printed.  In the caseroom you can learn about setting type by hand, inking and proofing the type. You can then have a go yourself. Located on Innerleithen High Street (EH44 6HA)


Zip over a reservoir

Built on the hillside within the beautiful Glentress Forest (part of Tweed Valley Forest Park), the Go Ape Tree Top Adventure makes good use of the valley for some jaw dropping exposure, and features an amazing  high zip wire over the reservoirs in the valley.  So  take to the trees and speed down zip slides, clamber over rope bridges, Tarzan swings and crossings,  all set high above the forest floor.  There is a pay car park at the site, a bike shop and cafe.   Located on the A72, 2.5 miles  south of Peebles.


Donkey heaven

The Scottish Borders Donkey Sanctuary is an amazing rescue centre set up by Rosemary Dale, a lifelong enthusiast and breeder of donkeys.  The donkeys are re-homed in small groups, in well fenced  and watered paddocks on permanent  pasture each with a field shelter.  Look out also for the ponies, llamas, goats, pigs, sheep, ducks, many breeds of poultry and a mule called Muffin.  Donkey Heaven is the charity running the Sanctuary and, you can sponsor a donkey or make a donation on their website.  The Sanctuary runs a free one hour tour at 2 pm on a Saturday and Sunday.  Located between Newtown St Boswells and St Boswells on the A67 (TD6 0EL).

Fast and thrilling rides on the ocean waves

Eyemouth Rib Trips are your key to exploring the stunning Berwickshire coastline of the Scottish Borders.  The highly experienced powerboat skipper Tim Grimshaw will be at the helm. The marine environment of the Berwickshire coast is perfect for birdwatchers, photographers, geologists – and everyone else who appreciates nature and wild places.  Try the very popular Fast Blast or the more leisurely Coastal Exploration – a relaxing sea safari and scenic trip along the stunning Berwickshire coastline, with caves, seals and seabirds. Gaze up at the mighty cliffs of St Abbs Head and see thousands of seabirds – guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and others.  Just remember your camera. On the way back you’ll see the Burnmouth sea caves where local legend says smugglers worked.  Located at Eyemouth Harbour (TD14 5HY).


EYEMOUTH MARITIME CENTRE (please note this venue is closed for 2017)

The Eyemouth Maritime Centre looks like an 18th century frigate and inside the museum recreates what life at sea was like, for officers and crew.  There is a replica gun deck and living quarters of the period, complete with sound effects of a rough storm outside.  It’s a great immersive experience that really runs home the history for kids, allowing an insight into the conditions and sensations of the ship’s crew.  There is a dressing up box for younger children and lots of quizzes.  The Eyemouth Maritime Centre forms part of the “World of Boats” charity who have around  400 boats in their collection.
Located at Eyemouth Harbour (TD14 5HY)



A Spy Mission themed walking Treasure Trail around Peebles.  Suitable for all ages from 6 – 106 (no children necessary!).  The Trail is approximately 2 miles long, and will take around 2 hour to complete. There’s also  the chance to win some real treasure by entering the monthly £100 prize draw if you get all the answers correct.  There’s a free mobile phone text service for clue answers if you get stuck, ensuring that no mystery goes unsolved!  The Trail can be sent to you in the post or downloaded for £6.99.   Other trails available in the Scottish Borders are Melrose, Hawick, Kelso, Selkirk & Galashiels and Jedburgh.



If it’s wet or very hot try out one of the the six public pools in the Scottish Borders.


Eyemouth Leisure centre
Kelso Swimming Pool
Galashiels Swimming Pool
Peebles Swimming Pool
Selkirk Leisure Centre
Teviotdale Leisure Centre (Hawick).



Geocaching is the perfect way to get kids outside and using the GPS on their mobile phones to find hidden containers called geocaches.  They can be basic like a waterproof container with a logbook and pen to record your visit, or a large container where you leave or take a small token/item.  There are around 250 geocaches in the Scottish Borders – more than enough to keep the kids busy.



Download a map of the heavens.  Wait for  a dry, clear night, pack a groundsheet, warm clothes, torches, your binoculars or telescope (if you have them) and a midnight picnic –  a flask of hot chocolate and a big bag of marshmallows (my favourite) is a must.   Then find a spot away from the streetlights, park and look up.  You might be surprised to hear that Moffat, which nestles in the middle of Scottish Border country, has the title of Europe’s first Dark Sky Town, having adopted special street lighting to keep light pollution to a minimum in order to preserve the wondrous starry, starry skies. Here’s a link to the top 5 stargazing Apps by Geek Squad, to help you work out just which stars you’re gazing at.


Check opening times and entry fees

We strongly suggest you check out all the venues before you set off on your family day out.  Check  to make sure they are open and to confirm admission prices.  There is nothing worse than disappointed kids in the back of your car.


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