John Buchan Way
Peebles – Broughton – 14 Miles (10/05/10)
Well, not really a Long Distance Path as such, at just a measly 14 miles, but a waymarked trail nonetheless.
What a little cracker it is too.
This is the 4th time I have walked this trail, having persuaded one of my work colleagues to try a bit of trail walking in between bouts of histrionic back pain! (Only kidding Simon)
I would post some photos of the walk, but the battery ran out just as we left Peebles. Sod.
Anyway, on to the walk.
This has been the latest time of the year I have walked this, the other times being around Easter with all the cold wet and icy weather that comes with that time of year in the Borders. The walk itself starts pretty much in the centre of Peebles, with plenty of parking close to the start of the trail.
Don’t be put off by the pay and display car parks – they only operate on a Saturday, when the town does really fill up with tourists.
The John Buchan Way is really split into two distinct sections with Stobo being the split point at halfway. The path climbs rapidly out of the town firstly up past a rather grand house, then passes the High School playing fields before turning right and meandering through a small woodland next to a fairly new housing estate. From there the way heads out onto the hillside (with associated sheep) and gives some cracking views back over the town and beyond. There has been a lot of thought put into route planning here as each rise brings a surprise view eventually resulting in a quite stunning panorama of the surrounding hills.
At one point the path seems to inexplicably dogleg to the right, until you pop out from behind a small lump only to be presented with a truly impressive vista. The path seems to be heading straight over the rather large Cademuir Hill (complete with iron age forts) in front of you, but instead countours gently round the left hand side of it to give some more fine views and link up with a quiet single track road that is part of the Tweed Cycleway.
This is quite an attractive low level walk which continues along the road into Manor valley. There is a nice spot for a picninc here with a number of picnic benches by the river, and for those that want to linger in the area there is a B&B right next to the path here. The way starts to rise again on a small road before enter the Glack and returning to open country. It is a steady but fairly gentle climb heading towards Stobo and as you reach the top there is a grand view over the Tweed valley before dropping down into the village.
The Kirk in Stobo is worth a visit, reputedly Norman and dating from around the Mid 12th Century. A very pretty walk beside Easton Burn ensues as the path gradually build up height again, before entering open moorland via an A frame step stile. In contrast to earlier in the walk, this is bleak, but no less spectacular country. Penvalla and Mid Hill loom invitingly just to the right but the way instead contours round into a fairly well hidden glen. The hills here are just crying out “walk me and there looks to be an impressive circuit, bourne out by the fact that this area seems to be the most popular for walkers on the way. Eventually we meet a farm track which rises up to a house and barn that look as if they are only really used around lambing time. This places has a great feeling of remoteness to it, and to be perfectly honest it is, even though you are only around 5km from Broughton.
Once the path has reached the farm it branches off to the left up along Well Burn. This is peat and heather country and when it’s wet it can be a real bog trot. Today however it has been dry for quite a while and the ground is surprisingly firm and a pleasure to walk on. At the top of the burn the ground opens up into another surprise, this time Hollows Burn, and turns a sharp left to follow the Glen down into Broughton.
A walk through the village culminates in a fitting finale at the John Buchan Centre, well worth a visit.
As a trail this is always going to be a very short one, but it really does make for a cracking day walk, with plenty of variety. Although having two cars is handy, there is a direct bus service from Peebles to Broughton which is fairly regular. Short and sweet, this is a wee cracker.
Overall Trail Rating – 8/10
Everything you want from a trail in a small package. The only negative – it is far too short. More walking like this in the Borders please!