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Hawick is a small town in the Scottish Borders, midway along the historic route from Carlisle to Edinburgh. It's pronounced hoick, one syllable, like the act of kicking a rugby ball high into the air. Several townsfolk have proved adept at doing so but Hawick's best-loved contributor to rugby, Bill McLaren (1923-2010), found fame as a commentator after illness ended his playing career. The town was also the birthplace in 1940 of the yachtsman Chay Blyth.
Hawick grew up as a textile town on the River Teviot, which flows northeast to join the Tweed. From linen it moved on to knitware, first practical tweeds then high-end cashmere and merino. This enabled it to survive the 20th century decline of the UK textile industry, but in recent years the luxury trade has also collapsed, and the town lost major employers such as Pringle. Other Border towns have been boosted by the re-opening of the railway, becoming commuter towns for Edinburgh, but Hawick is too far out to benefit. The main reason to come is to explore the hills and forests above the town.
Hawick is on the A7, 43 miles north of Carlisle and 50 miles south of Edinburgh. From eastern & southern England the quickest route is A1 to Newcastle, A696 / A68 to the Scottish border on windy Carter Bar, then A6088 through Bonchester Bridge to Hawick.
First Borders Bus X95 runs hourly, daily from Edinburgh along A7 via Galashiels and Selkirk, taking two hours. It's quicker to take the train from Edinburgh to Galashiels then change to the X95, which runs every 30 mins between Galashiels, Selkirk and Hawick. This bus continues south along A7 via Mosspaul, Langholm, Canonbie and Longtown to Carlisle, taking 80 mins: hourly M-Sat but only every 3 hours Sunday.
The "Waverley Railway" used to run through Hawick to join the main line at Carlisle but was axed in 1969. The northern part was restored in 2015, linking Edinburgh, Galashiels and Tweedbank; there are no plans to restore the southern part.
The town is small and walkable. A7 now runs west of the river, and the historic route along High Street has become a one-way north to south B-road. And A7 is no longer the main route to Edinburgh: from northwest England you stay on A74(M) far to the west. This means that Hawick still has quite a lot of local traffic but no longer suffers from through-traffic.
phone: +44 1450 377615address: 1 Tower Knowe TD9 9ENSmall museum within the Drumlanrig Tower tells the story of the region’s textile heritage.
address: Wilton Lodge Park TD9 7JLArt gallery and museum in Wilton Lodge, an 18th century mansion house. The museum has town history and an exhibition on motorcycling champions Jimmie Guthrie and Steve Hislop.
- is the scrappy remnant of a Norman motte-and-bailey fortification.
- Watch Rugby Union at Hawick RUFC, who play in the Premiership, the top tier of Scottish rugby. Their home ground is Mansfield Park, Hawick TD8 8AW, on the north bank of the river. The Hawick Sevens tournament is played here - the next is probably 8 Aug 2020 but tbc.
- Hike in the surrounding hills and lonely forests of Ettrick. Walk Highlands suggest a dozen trails, including the Southern Upland Way.
- Hawick Common Riding is the ancient custom of "beating the bounds". There are civic parades and mass "ride-outs" of hundreds of riders cross-country. It's traditionally held around the Friday that follows the first Monday in June. The next is expected to be 4-6 June 2020 but tbc.
- Sainsbury's is on the main road west of the river, with a filling station. There's a Spar on Dickson St, 200 yards north.
address: 22 Bourtree Place TD9 9HLJD Wetherspoon's pub with meals, in the former Conservative Club built in 1897.
phone: +44 7707 856123address: 2 Silver St TD9 0ADPeaceful cafe and bookshop in quiet alley just off main road.
- Along the main strip between those two are Sanghatpur Gate, Le 2016, Brodie's and Adam's Kitchen, with Santa Marina on riverside and Gino's just over the bridge.
- As well as The Bourtree there are Drumlanrig Bar and Stag's Head at the south end of town.
phone: +44 1450 363760address: 12 High St TD9 9EHThere are still two banks in Hawick but this former RBS is now a B&B. Clean comfy place, and Donna is a great host.
phone: +44 1450 372866address: 17 North Bridge St TD9 9BDClean welcoming place in town centre. Two twin rooms in ground floor annex are suitable for those with limited mobility or dogs.
phone: +44 1450 372858address: Buccleuch Rd TD9 0EHPleasant mid-range Victorian hotel with 9 bedrooms.
phone: +44 1450 360400address: Weensland Rd TD9 8LB19th C building, now a hotel with 15 bedrooms. On hillside east of river, dog-friendly.
Decent mobile signal in town, but don't be relying on it in the hills and forests south and west.