Saturday, 19 February 2011

Hardens Hill to Duns, via Duns Castle

Hardens Hill, to the West of Duns on the road to Longformacus, commands impressive views across Duns and the Merse to the imposing plateau of the Cheviot. This easy walk on land rover track and rough roads  takes about an hour and a half, passing through the beautiful estate of Duns Castle.
We used two cars; one left in Duns to take us back to the starting point.

 Start at the parking area just below the summit of Hardens Hill, on the Longformacus Road from Duns. As you climb the hill passing Hardens farm the parking area is in the first section of woodland on the right hand side of the road as you approach the summit.
Follow the land rover track through the plantation and down towards Duns. The way is signposted and clear as you descend. Other than the superb views there is little remarkable until you enter the Duns Castle Estate towards the bottom of the hill.
As the walk flattens out you are on the 'Colonel's Walk '. There are several opportunities to turn left and walk to the 'Hen Poo', the lake of the Castle estate - an excellent birding spot, considered one of the best places to watch birds in the Borders.
As you reach the edge of the mixed woodland a 'Private' sign greets you on the path. Take the track to the right with a vehicle barrier across it. This leads you down the side of the Castle Estate, past the impressive stable block and the Castle itself.
The stables are over two storey, with a courtyard and octagonal tower. Next the Castle appears in parkland to your left. Originally a Peel Tower dating back to 1320, it was expanded in the 19th Century with elegant Gothic Revival additions.
Continue through the parkland past several estate houses to the Duns Road (A6105) to Duns. You emerge to the west of the Old Berwickshire High School, a short walk to the centre of Duns to your left.

To make a circular walk turn right and right again to climb up the Longformacus road back to your car - add another hour or so for this walk.

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