As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve started wondering about the feasability of hosting a knitting retreat/get-together here in the Scottish Borders some time around the end of April/beginning of May 2007.
Please note: This is still just at the idea-generation stage. I have not finalised dates, or a schedule, or anything!
Anyway, I’ve posted on a few of the mailing lists I belong to, and there seems to be a little interest, but not yet enough to get me excited. Sadly, KnitU appears to have a ban on what they refer to as advertising, and my posting about this fell foul of that. Funny how they don’t have a problem with their staff posting about their new books on any other lists they happen to belong to….
So, here’s a brief (I hope) summary of the facts so far.
Some time in late spring 2007, probably end April/early May as the tourist season hasn’t quite kicked off here and we’ll be able to arrange for B&B without too much difficulty.
Jedburgh is a small town (population circa 4000) on the A68 which runs between Edinburgh and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. It is very much a tourist town, but still quiet enough that you are unlikely to have trouble parking your car, and rural enough that we have lichen growing on the stones in the middle of town.
Our hotel dates from around 1515 to around 1940 – lots of different building periods – and currently has 5 bedrooms. There are two other hotels in town, and loads of B&Bs. Because the town is so small, everything is within walking distance.
The furthest you’re likely to have to walk is the mile to the campsite by the river, but taxis are cheap and friendly!
One important point to make is that with the town being so old, truly disabled-accessible venues are few and far between. Our bedrooms are all on the top floor, and we’re several years away from being able to convert the old stables to ground floor accommodation. Tourist Info does have a list of places to stay which are suitable for people with mobility problems, but the room we are likely to be using for workshops, lunch etc is one floor up.
We are about an hour from Edinburgh, Berwick-Upon-Tweed and Newcastle, and about 90 minutes from Carlisle by road.
Public transport is fairly good for such a rural area. We have regular bus services to Newcastle, Edinburgh and Carlisle as well as local buses. There haven’t been trains since the Beeching days, but your cheapest option may well be to get the train to one of the main stations and then get a coach the rest of the way. At the moment, London-Newcastle single with GNER can go for as little as £10 online!
The nearest airports are Edinburgh and Newcastle, and the nearest ferry terminals are there as well.
Although the Borders has a rich textile history, there is very little left – a few Cashmere producers, some machine embroiderers, and a few fibre-artists are all I’m aware of.
I have been in touch with Margie Robinson of Moondance Wools which is based on a farm in Berwickshire. She was about to leave on holiday, and we’ve agreed to discuss things in more detail when she returns.
Lindsay Roberts, of the Workhouse Gallery has run fibre workshops in Jedburgh before. I have spoken to her in the past about the possibility of running something at the hotel, and we will be talking in more detail as the time gets closer.
There’s also been the suggestion of contacting Sheila McGregor (author of Traditional Fair Isle Knitting) who may live in Ediburgh, although rumour has it that she may have moved to France….
There is a fairly active branch of the Knitting and Crochet Guild based in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, and the Guild may be able to provide details of people willing/able to run workshops if that’s what we choose to do.
Alex Byrne, who organised SkipNorth has also offered to help with organisation. She’s the one collating a list of interested parties right now, and I can provide her contact details to anyone who asks.
What if you get bored with knitting?
The Borders is beautiful, uncrowded, and relatively unknown. The scenery is every bit as good as the “real” part of Scotland where all the tourists go (the Highlands) and, most importantly, we don’t get nearly as many midges.
We have a very attractive golfing package locally known as the Freedom of the Fairways, with 6 rounds over 3 days on any one of 23 courses for GBP70 and 10 rounds over 5 days for GBP100. There are discounts for juniors and seniors based on playing fewer rounds.
There is a lot of very good mountain-biking nearby – Glentress is probably the best-known area within the Seven Stanes project – as well as gentler shared off-road walking and cycling routes.
There are a number of waymarked walks – both short and long – including the Borders Abbeys Way and St Cuthberts Way.
If you’re into motorbiking, Keilder Forest is about 45 minutes away across the Carter Bar and into England.
If you’re thinking about bringing children, there is a Deer Park, an Archery Centre, a working silversmiths, and several other “active” venues within easy driving distance.
Any and all suggestions will be gratefully received. I don’t know if I can do this, but I’d like to try!