Sunday, 5 June 2011

Whiteadder Water, Ellemford to Abbey St Bathans

This is a beautiful walk down a lovely stretch of the Whiteadder to historic Abbey St Bathans, then back via the Southern Upland Way. This takes about two hours with a bit of ascent and descent on good tracks. Most of the walk is clearly marked.

Ellemford is on the B6355 between Cranshaws and Preston. Park near the bridge over the Whiteadder at Ellemford. Nearby are the fragmentary remains of the church, dedicated in 1244, but long abandoned.

Take the farm road to the right, along the north bank of the Whiteadder. Charming, gently rolling farmland makes up this bank, broken by some deciduous forest.

Follow the road to its end at Greenhope Ford, where there is a small settlement. The path, clearly marked ascends through Greenhope Wood to a beautiful pasture.

The path then descends slowly to the river, with the remaining woodland on your right between you and the river.

As you reach the riverbank a style and small bridge take you into a flat pasture. Follow the riverbank and pass through farm gates, keeping the river to your right. There are waymarkers to keep you on the right path.

As the river meanders you rise up on a good farm track through Barnside farm high on the north bank, past farm cottages to a decent height above the valley. Good views here.

Eventually the farm road points back down the valley floor and you see the settlement of Abbey St Bathans below you.

Abbey St. Bathans was originally a priory of Cistercian Nuns, dedicated to St. Bathan, the second abbot of Iona (believed to have built a chapel here). It has a number of interesting buildings, scattered through the settlement. The old kirk is beautiful, with lovely stained glass and an alcove containing the recumbent figure of a Prioress. It was built on the site of the Priory.

Edin's Hall Broch, the unusual remains of a Pictish Broch in Southern Scotland, are also situated in the locale. It was a massive construct, 17m in diameter and with walls 5-6m thick,built on the ruins of an earlier multivallate fort. Thought to date from 1-2nd Century.

Join the main road once you reach the valley floor again, and turn right and walk for 400 meters until you find the way post for the Southern Upland Way pointing west back to Ellemford. The village Telephone Box and Notice Board are here.

Note you can extend the walk by continuing down the road  a few hundred meters to the Riverside Restaurant, where you can cross the Whiteadder by bridge or ford, then take the very pleasant woodland walk back up river and cross at the Kirk. You arrive back at the Southern Upland way marker.

The return to Ellemford is through forestry Commission plantations, and a bit damp and dark. You rise to quite a height above the Whiteadder Water at times, and can clearly track your earlier path. Deer are frequently seen on this stretch.

As you near the road at Robber's Cleugh a sign directs you off the Southern Upland Way and back to Ellemford Bridge and your car.
 Approximately 2 hours.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Tweed to Ladykirk, past Milne Graden House

A walk that brushes the ghosts of the Napoleonic Wars and the great age of British Naval supremacy, meets the long traditions of the Tweed fishery and ends where nations glower across the border.

This works best with two cars, one left at the  Ladykirk Bridge, and the other at the start on a bend of the B6437 just above the Tweed, between Lennel and Whitsome. The path's start is clearly signposted, and part of the Coldstream path network. About and hour or hour and a half, great paths throughout, and very quiet.
Park near the bend noted above, and turn off the road at the signpost marked 'Norham Bridge'.

Follow the path through woods on a steep slope above a bend in the Tweed, which descends slowly to a stone wall.

Pass through a gate into a meadow which descends to the river. Cross the meadow to another fence, and way post. A round fisherman's hut lies ahead.

You are now walking along a grassy flat bank of the river, below a wooded slope. Follow the path as you enter the Milne Graden estate, built by Sir David Milne, second in command at the Bombardment of Algiers. Large North American firs line the bank, and you pass over an ornamental bridge before you see the large Milne Graden House, high above the path up a steep grassy slope.

Continue on along the banks, through a stone arch and into mixed woodland with a good path.

Continue on for a mile or so along a good path with wooden walk ways following the river bank, until you emerge into another sheep meadow with another round fisherman's hut. There is a lot of wildlife on this beautiful, quiet wooded stretch - deer, waterfowl and many butterflies.

Sand Martin's nest in the bluffs above the river on your right. Continue on over a small wooden bridge to another good path along the side of the Upsettlington Estate.There are often fishermen here.

This path is bordered by a formal stone wall with woodland behind - in parts cut smartly into the stone of the river bank. This is a charming and well kept pathway.

The path opens up again to a broad grassy walkway, before turning into another broad meadow.

Follow the sign across the meadow, which has yet another traditional Tweed fishing hut.
Once across the meadow you join another good marked path along the edge of the estate.
Passing another fisherman's hut, and some of the best fishing sites in Berwickshire, you approach the Ladykirk Bridge and the second car.

Ladykirk is worth a look - see my Ladykirk Circuit walk. Across from Ladykirk Bridge is Norham, famous historic border town. It has a great butchers!

Sir Walter Scott described Norham Castle in his poem Marmion as “the most dangerous place in England.”

The Flowers of the Forest

I've heard the lilting, at the yowe-milking,
Lasses a-lilting before dawn o' day;
But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning;
"The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away".
As buchts, in the morning, nae blythe lads are scorning;
The lasses are lonely and dowie and wae.
Nae daffin', nae gabbin', but sighing and sobbing,
Ilk ane lifts her leglen, and hies her away.
In hairst, at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering,
The Bandsters are lyart, and runkled and grey.
At fair or at preaching, nae wooing, nae fleeching,
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.
At e'en, in the gloaming, nae swankies are roaming,
'Bout stacks wi' the lasses at bogle to play.
But ilk ane sits drearie, lamenting her dearie,
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.
Dule and wae for the order sent our lads to the Border;
The English, for ance, by guile wan the day:
The Flowers of the Forest, that foucht aye the foremost,
The prime o' our land are cauld in the clay.
We'll hae nae mair lilting, at the yowe-milking,
Women and bairns are dowie and wae.
Sighing and moaning, on ilka green loaning,
The Flowers of the forest are all wede away.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Tweed from Ladykirk, circuit

A lovely walk along the Scottish bank of the Tweed, downstream from Ladykirk, and back across the heights above the Tweed. An hour and a half

Park at Ladykirk Bridge

Cross the road and the path begins to the north of two cottages on the east side  of the road.

Cross the style and enter the steep wooded bank of the Tweed. The path leads through the wood, and eventually down the river. It was very dry when I did this walk, but I could see when muddier this might be a bit slippy under foot. The path is mainly a sheep trail at this point (many trees and bushes lean over it, with a lot of wool in the branches).
On the opposite bank is the historic town of Norham. As you continue along the bank there are good views down the river, and across to Norham castle.

Lots of butterflies here and waterfowl. As you get nearer Norham castle the river swings in the opposite direction and the bank flattens out into a meadow, with some signs of the winter floods (flotsam strewn across the meadow). The river is shallow here - Norham castle was built to protect this fording point from Scottish raids. I could have walked across today.
Follow the edge of the meadow around the bend in the river. The path on the English side is visible as it trails along the bottom of some cliffs. The meadow ends with a fence and hedge - follow this to a gate leading up the gentle slope, and to New Ladykirk. Walk through the farmyard and onto the road. To the west you can see the tower of Ladykirk - walk that way back to your car.
Great views across to the Cheviot and across the merse.
Ladykirk is a fascinating church, largely from 1500, at the behest of James IV, after almost drowning in the Tweed here. Lots of interesting features in the Kirk and settlement around.

See also:

Borders Family History Society

Undiscovered Scotland on Norham

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Westruther to Twin Law

A short burst into the western Lammermuirs, starting at Westruther, with commanding views across the Borders. Two hours or so.

From the B6456, a lovely road running across empty moorland below the Lammermuir plateau, dotted with volcanic plugs, turn off past the Pub in Westruther towards Flass farm and Harecleugh Forest. Park at the right of way sign pointing right (East).

Follow the marked path East NE to the landrover track running above Cralaw, heading north. A gentle climb takes you up to a ridge where at once you can look down over the Borders, and to the East to the Watch Water.

A few hundred yards further you cross the Southern Upland Way. Turn left (West) onto this well trodden path and follow to the gentle peak of Twin Law, and its impressive brace of Cairns.

A tin in one of the cairns holds a log book, and a few sweeties for the tired traveller. Again, superb views across to the Eildons.

At the cairns turn due south and follow a simple trail into the Harecleugh Forest - a bit of pushing through the conifers will take you to a clearing which quickly develops into a trail and a landrover track. Follow down, via Flass to the road you left your car on.
OS map is recommended to navigate the twists and turns of the last section through the forest.