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.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Allanton Inn to Chirnside Bridge

In the path of genius: it's not often you can claim to have walked in the footsteps of not one, but two of the great minds of the modern world. This walk takes us through the lost estate of Scottish Enlightenment Philosopher David Hume, and we will see some of the extraordinary geology that inspired the father of modern geology, James Hutton.
Start at the Allanton Inn, south of Chirnside. Parking is available near the Inn. Head north towards Chirnside on the road.  As you leave Allanton you cross a Robert Stephenson Bridge over the Whiteadder Water. Over the left hand side of the bridge you can see the Blackadder and Whiteadder water meet, and a Ferryman's cottage, now ruined.
There is a decent grassy verge as you head north from the bridge. As the road turns sharply right you are at the South Lodge of the old Ninewells Estate. A sign post for Dexter's Mill points ahead, to the left of the lodge.

Leave the road here and enter the old estate grounds. Once past the lodge the old walled garden of the estate is on your right (19th Cy). Follow the well marked path behind a sawmill and past a modern house built on the site of Ninewells House.

Ninewells was named for the springs that flow from the hillside into the Whiteadder Water. It was home to several generations of Homes (later Humes) and was the childhood home, and later the summer home, of David Hume. The original Ninewells house was entirely rebuilt in the mid 19th Cy in a Tudor style, but was demolished in 1954. During World War Two it was designated as a hostel for Polish and Eastern European displaced persons. Some Polish army personnel were billeted there and some also lodged with Chirnside families. Around 1942-1943 it was designated as prisoner of war camp.

The path now enters thick woodland plantation, and takes you down to the Whiteadder Water.

Follow the clear path along the banks towards Chirnsidebridge Mill. In spring and summer this is an excellent area for butterflies. The stream bed of the Whiteadder has some striking rocky feature, and James Hutton farmed to the north of here. He is said to have studied the formations.

Following the curving bank of the Whiteadder you eventually emerge onto the A6105 near Chirnsidebridge Mill. Opposite where you emerge is the ruined, ivy covered facade of the Chirnside Rock House, thought to once be a lodge to Ninewells House. It was partly cut out of the rock of the river bank, and was occupied into the 20th century. It has pointed arch windows, and had a heavy oak door opening into two rooms.

Turn left and walk along the A6105 for a few hundred meters, over the Whiteadder. Opposite the entrance to the Mill a line of trees heads south west from the road - this is the old Berwickshire Railway line. Follow this for 400 meters, until a sign directs you back east towards Allanbank and Allanton. Follow the track around the edge of a series of fields to the road from Allanton to Duns. Turn left here and back to Allanton.

The features of the last stretch can be read about in my Allanton Inn to Blackadder House walk.