At Birkhill House CIC

Improving mental health in the Scottish Borders through caring, creativity & collaboration

At Birkhill House CIC is an animal assisted activity and crafting centre near Earlston in the Scottish Borders. We offer a mixture of modern and traditional crafting opportunities ranging from pewter casting to embroidery, stained glass to paper making. We are in the process of developing our fleece and fibre programme, putting an emphasis on traditional hand-processing techniques such as skirting, picking, carding and spinning. Making the most of connections with local fibre artisans, we offer workshops in knitting, crochet, weaving and felting. We also stock kits with patterns specially designed by local makers for At Birkhill House. The focus here is on wellness and mindfulness – taking a moment out to be compassionate and nurture the creative side in all of us.  

Set on nine acres of beautiful land about 30 miles south of Edinburgh city centre, the workshops take place in renovated stables dating back to the early 1800s. With a rich farming and equine history, the property is now a busy small-holding, whose residents include Huacaya alpacas, Castlemilk Moorit sheep, pygmy & Golden Guernsey goats, 14 beautiful domestic Ragdoll cats, a gaggle of small dogs, a plethora of hens and a friendly pair of peacocks. 

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Daniel, 14, was at a low ebb because of the stresses of high school when Lara invited us to come and have some therapeutic ‘kitten time’.  I can honestly say it was the best thing we could have done. Our weekly sessions really helped Daniel feel in touch with a wider and kinder world beyond school. The kittens made us laugh together, and gave Daniel something he could care for, which helped him feel more positive.  We still talk about the kittens very often and it’s good to know Daniel can go and visit Lara’s if he needs to.

Daniel's mum – Scottish Borders


I took students to to visit Birkhill to specifically look at suitable cat accommodation. The cat accommodation was spacious, light and airy with cosy reading room. The students were so taken with the set up and the calming ambiance they asked to be bought to visit the cats prior to all assessments. They all agreed they felt relaxed, peaceful and rejuvenated and in a better frame of mind for returning to college to continue classes. But of course they would loved to have stayed longer. With more awareness of mental well-being, as a group, we all agreed that Lara's facilities will be an asset to people of all ages providing a positive distraction from chaotic busy lives.

Gert Riddell, Lecturer in Animal Care, Scottish Borders College


Simply the most relaxing experience. Really helped me out, and I'd recommend it to anyone. If you're going through a difficult time or just feel as though you need some cheering up, and you like cats, then this will almost certainly be the perfect solution. I'd also recommend it to writers that feel as though they need a bit of down time to come up with new ideas.

Bernice Summerfield, Scottish Borders


Birkhill House

Earlston TD4 6AR

email & phone

07779 339 653