Innerleithen, Scotland: Small Town, Big Place

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Innerleithen, Scotland: Small Town, Big Place

It is highly likely you have never heard of Innerleithen. Innerleithen is a small town in southern Scotland in the heart of The Scottish Borders, very close to the border with England. It takes roughly an hour by car to reach the nearest airport from Innerleithen, and takes 15 minutes on a bus to reach the nearest swimming pool, in Peebles.

It is a small town to say the least, with a population of around 2,600. There are very few activities for families, kids and teenagers. We used to think that growing up here was like a jail sentence, it was so boring.

Learning to Appreciate the Natural Beauty

It took some time for my eyes to open to what was around me. Innerleithen rests in the valley surrounded by seven beautiful and safe hills – fantastic for hiking.

There are hiking trails through the beautiful forests nearby, offering inexperienced and skilled walkers a challenge.


Hills of Innerleithen. PIC: NH

Innerleithen boasts a downhill biking trail sponsored by Red Bull, and has a really active and popular biking community that comes back time and time again to experience the thrills of the Red Bull hill and Glentress Forest only a few minutes drive away. There are always new and interesting people to meet in this busy little town.

A couple of miles, easily walked, is the beautiful Traquair House whose grounds and giant maze you can explore for free. If you want to pay a little, you can explore the beautifully kept house of Mary Queen of Scots. Traquair hosts the yearly popular event called The Mighty Deerstalker, which brings in people from all over the country, including popular TV show stars from the UK.

The town also provided us with a natural swimming pool up at what we called ‘The Cauld.’ This was beside the popular Golf Course, and not far from the beautiful St.Ronans Wells too. There is a lot to see in Innerleithen if you choose to explore.


The beautiful Traquair House, Innerleithen. PIC: NH

A short drive away you can swim in the St Marys Loch… or climb the famous Grey Mares Tale waterfall.

Growing up in Innerleithen was not so bad when you change up your idea of ‘fun.’


We used to travel to Edinburgh or Galashiels to eat in chain restaurants and we never saw a problem with this. How were we to know we were throwing away support for our beautiful community and giving all our pocket money to wealthy businessmen.


Award winning ice cream selection at Caldwells, Innerleithen. PIC: NH

Once you begin to try the places to eat in Innerleithen, you learn that you live in a wonderful place with such a variety of options… There is the famous Caldwells Icecream, beautiful cafes and boutique hotels, which all boast interesting and delicious food.

You can even take on the mighty Burger Challenge at the Tweedside Hotel and try to get your name on the Wall of Fame.

If you are feeling more adventurous, you can cycle or walk the paved path for three miles up to nearby Cardrona and visit Nashys Coffee House for some of the best food you have ever tasted.


The clean and easy to use path up to Cardrona from Innerleithen. PIC: NH


I attended St.Ronans Primary school in Innerleithen. It was a safe walk only minutes from my house. The school was well kept and a safe, fun environment to learn in. They promoted sports weeks and always chose the best students for the annual ‘Games Week.’ The chosen kids would be dressed as Monks and Sash Girls, who supported the Dux boy and girl in a whole bunch of parades and activities.

We were also blessed with the wonderful Robert Smails Printing Works where we could learn about letterpress printing, an important part of the area’s history. This establishment is now owned by The National Trust for Scotland.


Countryside, Innerleithen. PIC: NH

Innerleithen also offers free cooking classes to anyone, to teach us how to make the most of our food and save money.


This is a town where everyone knows everyone. Sometimes that can be bad as you hear rumours about yourself that can be totally wild. But other times, it is the most special thing in the world.


Innerleithen. PIC: NH

This is the kind of place where you can get obscenely drunk and know that someone will take you home, or give you a bed for the night. You can leave your handbag on the table in a bar and trust that no one will take anything – which I have done so many times I couldn’t even tell you. Or, if you are my friend Sarah, you could drunkenly drop your phone on the High Street and find it there 14 hours later having not been touched.

Innerleithen may have been a prison to me at some time – before my eyes were opened to what a wonderful place it is to grow up. It certainly may be a small town, but its a big place, with so much to do and see. The perfect place to have grown up.

Also check out Living in Walkerburn, Scotland.

Natasha Haley

Natasha Haley

Natasha is a travel and social media blogger at Meldrums On The Move ( She blogs about her family travels and aims to make family travel cheaper, easier and more enjoyable for other family travellers. Natasha grew up in Scotland and considers herself an expert on her local area.


  • Erika

    Sounds like a beautiful place.

    June 18, 2017 at 4:51 pm
  • Natasha

    It is very beautiful, Erika

    June 19, 2017 at 3:28 am
  • Dave Garbutt

    Great piece! Now I want to live there 🙂

    June 22, 2017 at 3:52 am