The Borders

Key information: The Borders

    •  The Borders, the hill country between England and the Scottish lowlands, is a beautiful and atmospheric area - and relatively empty of walkers.
      • Grassy (rarely heathery) hills and ridges, rolling rather than sheer, treeless other than a certain amount of rather depressing conifer forests, they separate very varied valleys. The scenery includes rough crags, moorland, hill farmland and stretches of good arable land. And the odd loch - and even coastal cliffs and wildlife reserves.
        • Rich in history, from prehistoric hill-forts to remains of the Romans to ancient brochs (round defended towers) to abbeys, churches, castles and towers, to fine houses and their gardens, to monuments and reminders of Scotland?s bloody civil and religious strife.
          • Lovely and interesting towns to explore, from the pleasing market town of Moffat to ancient Melrose, to Kelso and Jedburgh. Staying here is a pleasure, not a function.
            • These can be tough and remote hills, with always unpredictable weather. Come prepared.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating87
  • Beauty31
  • Natural interest15
  • Human interest10
  • Charisma31
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating87

Vital Statistics

Top

WALK SUMMARY

The Borders, the hill country between England and the Scottish lowlands, is a beautiful and atmospheric area - and relatively empty of walkers.

These are grassy (rarely heathery) hills and ridges, rolling rather than sheer, treeless other than a certain amount of rather depressing conifer forests, they separate valleys which vary from rushing upland streams and larger rivers winding through wide, lonely bottoms, to the grand, lower valleys of impressive rivers such as the Tweed. The scenery includes rough crags, moorland, hill farmland and stretches of good arable land. And the odd loch - and even coastal cliffs and wildlife reserves.

The land is rich in history, from prehistoric hill-forts to remains of the Romans to ancient brochs (round defended towers) to abbeys, churches, castles and towers, to fine houses and their gardens, to monuments and reminders of Scotland?s bloody civil and religious strife.

There are lovely and interesting towns to explore, from the pleasing market town of Moffat to ancient Melrose, to Kelso and Jedburgh. Staying here is a pleasure, not a function.

The landscape is shaped by its geology: sedimentary rocks have been buckled and lifted by the impact of the Highlands with the European tectonic plate, resulting in gentler, in more rounded hills than the rough, broken grandeur of the ancient, igneous Highlands, the geological siblings of America's Appalachians and the mountains of Norway.

The Borders have several famous long-distance trails running through them, including:

  • The Southern Uplands Way. The finest route in southern Scotland, the Southern Upland Way runs 341km north-east from the western Rhinns of Galloway Peninsula to the North Sea, across a variety of beautiful, often delightful, and usually empty landscape. The Way mainly traverses grassy (rarely heathery) hills and ridges, treeless other than a certain amount of rather depressing conifer forests (particularly in bits of Galloway and the Lowther Hills), which separate varied but consistently lovely valleys.

Every nest of hills will offer fine walking, and you can usually pick a route from a local map and head off.  That said, some favourite walks are:

  •    The peculiar but delightful Eildon Hills, a group of three steep  protruding from the rolling countryside just south of Melrose which offer grand 360? views of the surrounding landscape. A hill fort and Roman signal station crown the northernmost hill. Unusually for the area, they are heather-clad. A tour of all three takes a brisk 2.5 hours, although you would be mad not to eat at least one picnic on a hilltop here.
  •     The 25km (16 mile) stretch of St Cuthbert's Way between St Boswell's  and Harestanes, south-east of Melrose, which follows a delightful curve of the Tweed then a stretch of Roman Dere Street.
  •     A stretch of the pretty Teviot valley then Dere Street between Kelso and Jedburgh, two historic towns.

-          the hills south and north of Tibbie Shiels and St Mary's Loch (where Stages 8 and 9 of the Way meet); lovely hill walking, some on fine ridges and on old drove roads and passing the ruins of old towers, as well as the shores of the large and lovely loch itself;

-          the superb high-level old drove road from Innerleithen to the outskirts of Galashields, over Brown Knowe, under Broomy Law and over Three Brethren (Stage 10, 28km, 17.3 miles total of skirting Galashields to Melrose); and

-          the crossing of the bare, lonely heather moorland of the  Lammermuir Hills from Lauder to Longformacus (Stage 12, 25km). 

  •          A 10km (6 mile) circuit along the Whiteadder river east of Abbey St Bathans to examine the ancient (C2AD) Edin's Hall Broch (stubby round tower), then back round over the hills to the north.

  •           The lovely and fascinating St Abb's Head nature reserve on the east coast: its cliffs, coves and stacks are a haven for a huge selection of seabirds in their specialist corners. On its highlands are the faint remains of the defended C7 monastery founded by St Aebbe, a fascinating reminder of turbulent, Viking-ridden times. You won't be alone in the summer months.

  •          The area around Moffat, strictly in Dumfries and Galloway but part of the Borders as most of us would consider them. This nice town has got its ambulatory act together, and has produced a series of booklets on local walks, including Walking in and Around Moffat and Strenuous Walks Around Moffat. Well worth a few days as a base.

 Have a look at the dreaded TripAdvisor - you should get some good, current views on this area.

This page is at an early stage of development: we plan to mention a lot more walks. Please help us by recommending your best walks, making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

Membership is FREE AND JOINING TAKES 30 SECONDS. To login or sign up click here

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Top

Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more

Our partners Responsible Travel 

have carefully chosen expeditions 

and holidays around the world.    

Great walking, and much else...

Walkopedia Sponsor

See their site for inspiring ideas

For £50 off your trip, contact them quoting WW50

All material on this website is � Walkopedia Ltd 2008 - 2015, unless specified otherwise.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED