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Archive for the ‘Borders Abbeys Way’ Category


Day 5

Selkirk -Melrose – 20/02/2010

The last day, and at 8 miles it was always going to be a short one.  For once the fine clear day failed to materialise and we started in some fine mist.  It eventually started to lift, certainly making the early part of the walk extremely atmospheric.   Considering the amount of frost there had been it was quite muddy underfoot, but also on some of the road sections it was potentially treacherous, thick ice covering the road surface.

Wrapped up warm, we covered the distance quickly, but there was still a lot of charm about this last days walk.

It was a tad chilly this morning

The Abbeys Way eventually ends up right back where it started at Melrose Abbey, but first meanders along with the Tweed before crossing under, then joining with, the Southern Upland Way for a short distance.  The last section into Melrose, which it shares with the SUW, is delightful and a fitting finale to a walk that was over far too quickly.

It strikes me that, although the Abbeys Way touches the St Cuthberts Way in a couple of places, it is perfectly feasible to start in Kelso, walk to Melrose (clockwise) and without missing a beat, continue onto the St Cuthberts Way.  As a Long Distance Walk it would come in at around the 120 miles mark.  Not too bad for two trails combined!

Day Rating  – 8/10

A very pleasant, if short day.  The finish into Melrose is a gentle end to a fairly easy walk.

Overall Rating – 37/50 (74%)

There was never any great physical challenge in the Abbey Way, but for a relatively short trail it has some wonderful sections.  There are a couple of places where tedium can set in, but aren’t all LDP’s the same?  I would quite happily rank this firmly in the top 10 walks I’ve done over the past 7 or 8 years.

Jedburgh Gaol

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Border Abbeys Way – Day 4

Hawick – Selkirk – 19/02/2010

This really was a consistently good day.  Varied walking through moorland, plantation and eventually parkland coming into Selkirk.

It’s a bloody long climb out of Hawick though, up through a housing estate.  Unfortunately it seems that the pavement is very popular with dog walkers.  You have to be very careful where you step, not for the first time on this walk.  It seems to be a problem that disappeared for many years but is now rearing it’s ugly head again.  However, there are some none too subtle signs dotted around the place suggesting that owners might like to clean up the mess.

Still, something like that is not going to spoil the day at all, especially, for the 4th day in a row the weather was outstanding.  The long haul out of Hawick was well worth the work to the top.  The view was quite magnificent.

Even if the hill didn't take the breath away, the view did!

A few minutes after this we bumped into an old lad who looked as fit as a fiddle.  He’d just been for his daily constitutional round the tops and was heading back down into town.  I hope I’m still going like that at his age.  The day just got better, added to by the fact the our little area had escaped the snow which was now covering the Cheviots to the South and what looked like the Pentlands to the North.

The high point of the day.

The next few miles were spent dropping down to Selkirk via a busy golf course and quite a steep descent through some newly cleared forestry.  Again the buzzards were in close attendance, and for the second day running we managed to spot a harrier; quite a heartening sight.

On the way down into Selkirk, in a reflection of the way out of Hawick, we bumped into a man, 80 yrs old or more, tottering up into the park with his walking stick.  Apparently he was quite a pioneer for walking in the Borders, heavily involved in running walking festivals and the likes in the mid 60’s.  Nice to see that he can still get out and enjoy it all, even if it takes him a bit of time!

In no time at all we were in Selkirk and heading for the B & B.  Not a bad place, right on the main A7 through the town with fine views out over the valley.

Day Rating – 9/10

Some cracking scenery and the most enjoyable day yet.  The walk is getting better as we walk round it, which is the way it should be, I suppose.

A close up of the Waymarker

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Borders Abbeys Way – Day 3

Jedburgh – Hawick – 18/02/2010

After an excellent night in the B & B and a pretty good meal in the hotel across the road we set off, again in stunning weather, across the high point of the walk.

Looking at the trail on the OS maps, you don’t really get a sense of the remoteness of the path. This meant that the feeling of  isolation was a real surprise, even though we had only walked a mile or so from Jedburgh.  The path climbed rapidly and gave us some stunning views out over the Borders and beyond.  The way headed on to open ground along an old track, but was interrupted by an odd plantation of Conifers while the track was lined (if I remember correctly) with beech.

So far we hadn’t met another soul all day, hardly surprising as it was Baltic up there, but we were graced with some bird life, a Harrier flying overhead, and plenty of Buzzards circling around overhead. (They seemed to be a feature of this walk and, judging by their numbers, have had a fairly successful winter).  Just shortly after this, as the path headed out over open moorland (well waymarked – I might add) we were furnished with possibly the best view of the walk.  Certainly it was the best up to this point.

From here the way drops briefly into the hamlet of Bedrule, before crossing the Rule, and heads back up onto higher ground, again giving some fine all round views.  This is a very pleasant section that really is too short, blink and you miss it.  A rapid descent into Denholm brings quite a big surprise.  Denholm has a huge village green which is quite an unusual sight in Scotland.

The first thing that you see as you walk towards the green on the path is the pub.  I would recommend though, a little tea room that has opened almost opposite the pub.  You can’t quite see it until you reach it, but the Lass who runs it does some fine grub and a nice pot of tea!  The place had only been open since mid-2009 and she said that it had been a real struggle over the winter, although throughout the summer it had been pretty busy.  It was a welcome refreshment stop about the halfway mark on the day, and for a change it was nice not to be in a pub!

The rest of the walk was back along the bank of the River Teviot.  A nice gentle walk again, but at many places the farmer has put an electric fence rather to close to the edge which could make sections of this a tad….uncomfortable when it’s wet.  I had visions of straying too far to the right and getting zapped on a regular basis.  Some people might just like that kind of thing though…..

The walk into Hawick, mainly the last mile or so, is a bit naff.  It’s a small price to pay though for the walk through from Jedburgh, which, although quite short, is one of the most enjoyable day walks I think i have had in a long time

Day Rating – 8/10

If it hadn’t been for the large industrial estate and waste transfer station on the way into Hawick, this would have been a 9/10.  It just took the gloss off what had been a superb days walking.

Hawick

When in Hawick town centre it is wise to chose carefully the pub in which you go into.  The sight of a 60 year old pissed up hag coming onto to you is one moment I shall never forget. “Come walking with me lads, I know all the best places to go!”  I bet she does an’ aw!  A rather disappointing (although cheap) chinese meal followed, before we got to our rather 1970’s seaside B & B that seemed to have an obsession with Ford Escorts.  Still it was a bed for the night, not a bad breakfast and, importantly, right on the path

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Borders Abbeys Way – Day 2

Kelso – Jedburgh 17/02/2010

Day 2 started in a similar way to the first.  Stunning cold morning, and after a nice hot breakfast we were on our way, past Kelso Abbey, over the bridge and then onto a second river walk (this time the Teviot) which had it’s fair share of dog walkers along it’s bank.  After stopping and chatting to a rather exuberant Boxer, his owner mentioned that otters had been spotted earlier on.  Not much chance of that for us, with yapping furry rats and a couple of mental Spaniels running around like loonies they would have been long gone.  Still, things got quieter the further we got from Kelso, and there was a real sense of solitude and peace along this section.  It was all fairly easy walking too.  Up until Roxburgh that is…

Disused Railway Viaduct

The dismantled railway features in the second half of the walk, but the way for the time being carried happily on along the river bank.  Until we crossed a stile into a field that must have been used for a re-enactment of the battle of the Somme.

Note to self – Gaiters are a very good idea!

This was topped off when, finally getting to the path exit from this field, it was routed straight up the old railway embankment.  This wouldn’t have been too bad, but the steps that had obviously been there for some time had been ripped out and not replaced.  This meant an ascent of what could only be described as a rather unstable Pit Bing! At least there was a fence to hold onto.

Where did those bloody steps go?

The railway looked like a promising walk until we crossed a road at an old station, surprisingly pretty much intact, platform and all.  The railway became a farm track, one of the muddiest farm tracks I have experienced, and for the second day running the walk became a little tedious.  The mud makes this kind of walking fairly stamina sapping, and it was with great relief the way eventually left the track bed for the riverside.  Immediately things became a little more interesting, and for a short while the St Cuthberts Way joined us, up a steep Roman Road (Dere Street I think).

Why did the Roman’s build straight roads anyway.  Wouldn’t it be quicker to go round a hill rather than straight over the top of the bloody thing?  Hard as nails these Romans!

Still, it gave us some good views of the surrounding area, even though the way up had been a bit of a mud fest.  More importantly it meant that it was downhill all the way into Jedburgh.

On entering Jedburgh we were presented with the vista of boarded up shops, lots of bruised folk, shouts of “‘Ere, look at these two comin’ up the road!” and a rather large group of people partaking in what looked like a giant Bundle!

Apparently, this is some kind of annual….ahem – Rugby – ahem…game that is played between the top and bottom of the town.  God knows where it came from, but one local suggested that it used to be played with the head of an Englishman.  Presumably when detached from his body?  I don’t know whether to believe this or not, and one can only take it really with a pinch of Salt.

Now the B & B in Jedburgh was superb.  It was the old Tollhouse, sticking out into the road halfway up the hill to the old Gaol.  This has to be one of the best B & B’s I have ever experienced.  Very nice building, very comfortable on-suite room and an extremely warm welcome.  Will be going back a t some point.

Rating 6/10

Like the day before it had it’s good points and bad points.  This was still an enjoyable day walk though but with a couple of not very interesting moments.  The next day is on to Hawick.

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Borders Abbeys Way – Day 1

Melrose to Kelso – 16/02/2010

Long Distance walking is a passion of mine, and a week off work, in February, in Scotland is never really the best time to be undertaking one, especially during one of the harshest winters that I can remember.  However, the need took me and I ended up on this fairly local, and relatively new 60 odd mile circular walk from Melrose, in the Scottish Borders.

Border Abbeys Way

The Way starts in Melrose and works its way, fairly serenely for the most part towards Kelso.  It was a stunning day, if a tad cold, which was quite remarkable considering the weather over the winter had been nothing short of horrific.  There was to be no camping this trip though.  Purely B & B’s.

The way rises quickly out of Melrose and we soon had a fine view back over the town, one that would stay with us for most of the day.  The waymarks were a simple, but very clever A superimposed inside a W.  Fortunately the acronym had not been used, otherwise we would have been walking on the BAW (it’s funny if you’re Scottish!)

The first part is a fine river walk along the Tweed, passing Dryburgh Abbey only after a few miles and then only after linking up (briefly) with BAW’s older brother, the St Cuthbert Way.  The weather made this an absolute pleasure, with fine views back towards Melrose and easy walking over the fairly frozen ground.

The way here was fairly secluded and it came as a great surprise to see a huge number of Swans, feeding on the Kale by the riverside.  I don’t think I have ever seen so many of these birds in one place at the same time.  The wildlife was in abundance, probably breathing a sigh of relief after the melting of the snow, Deer, Buzzards and Oystercatchers were all in abundance.

Around the halfway mark to Kelso, the Way changed, slowly and surely.  It left the river and started along green lanes, most of which had been left incredibly muddy by a combination of farm traffic, horses, bikes and of course walkers.  Eventually though these changed to roads.  Fairly quiet ones, but roads nonetheless, something I hate walking on at the best of times.  Unfortunately this meant around 7 miles of road walking into Kelso.

The big problem here it seems, and this is only conjecture, is that to have a “cross country” route, so to speak, would mean passing through the grounds of Floors Castle.  Floors Castle is private land (you have to pay to get in to the place) so I can understand why the planners took the path the route that they did.  It meant that the latter half of the day was rather uninspired, not helped by the clouding over and the rather rapid temperature drop.

However we slogged it into Kelso, and although the route may seem a little odd, it is worth following right back down to the Tweed for a last little river walk before hitting the Town Centre.

Day rating 6/10  (First half 8/10, Second 4/10)

This would have been higher had it been consistent all the way.  A fine opening half to the day followed by a rather dreary road walk.  An excuse to walk this in reverse perhaps?

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