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.