By the time we reached Peebles we were used to the normal hotel Covid routine: no daily room service, masks to be worn in communal areas, a one-way system around the building and table service breakfast.
Peebles Hydro being considerably larger (and somewhat newer) with wider corridors, there was less need for one-way routes to bedrooms, but breakfast was a surprise. Rather than attempting to cook to order, there was a form of limited buffet where guests followed a one way route to select from shrink-wrapped pots of fruit salad and cellophane-wrapped pastries before requesting hot food from the masked restaurant manager who stood behind a row of chafing-dishes.
Whilst in Peebles we experienced two different approaches to a Covid-secure guided tour. It goes without saying that masks and frequent hand-sanitising are compulsory. But at Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, we pre-booked our entry slot, and on arrival were advised to download an app with the audio tour. I don’t normally care much for audio guides, but this one was very well done, and presented from the point of view of the elderly Scott welcoming visitors to his home and showing them his prized possessions. Each couple or ‘bubble’ had a separate entry time so that we had each room to ourselves, though we were conscious that we should not linger too long.
At Traquair (the oldest inhabited house in the country, dating back to 1107) only the grounds were fully open (visits to the maze are by timed pre-booking) but we were fortunate enough to be able to book a private house tour for the two of us, with a highly informative guide. This is a great way to see a house, but of course limits the opportunity to far fewer visitors.
Whilst in Peebles we walked the John Buchan way, or at least the first half of it. In Stobo, we caught a local Borders bus back to the town. Social distancing was not a problem: we saw no one else at all on the walk, and aside from the driver, we had the bus to ourselves.
We visited Peebles in September 2020