Hills climbed: Peat Hill & Deuchar Law.
A scenic walk through Glen Estate, Traquair, near Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders.
With nice weather forecast for the weekend, frosty with some sun, I decided to do a route which I've had my eye on for more than twenty years, just never got around to it. It's a walk from a guide book I got in the 1990's. I only stay just over an hours drive away, so finally it was time to do this walk that's eluded me for all this time.
The route starts at Kirkhouse, but according to the guide book, there's not really anywhere to park there. So I planned to use a small parking area by the roadside at the junction to the farm of Damhead, about half a mile northeast from Kirkhouse.
I set off at first light, with a lovely red sky overhead. Though, isn't red sky in the morning a warning for bad weather?
As soon as I walked into the small village of Kirkhouse, I turned right to follow the road leading to Glen Estate. This road, which becomes a track, passes Glen House, & the houses of Glen Estate, to reach the head of the glen after around 4.5 miles. Three miles along this, the views of the glen really open up, with Deuchar Law & Peat Hill separated by the steep sided valley of Glendean Banks between them.
The track ends at Glenshiel Banks, a beautiful spot, complete with a little cottage, which sits directly below Dun Rig, the highest of the Glensax Hills.
From here the route continues through a gate onto the open hillside, & the climb up to the shoulder of Peat Hill begins. This part of the walk now follows an old drove road, (it eventually joins the more important drove road from Peebles, which runs along the eastern ridge of the Glensax Hills, then traversing below Dun Rig to reach Whiteknowe Head).
It seems as though this ancient road may eventually be lost forever, as it's seldom walked, & the ordinance survey no longer show it on their 1:25000 map, so it will be used even less in the future. But for me today, I was there to enjoy the peace & quiet, & enjoy the whole place to myself.
From Glenshiel Banks, the track is easy enough to follow to start with. Turning left at first junction, crossing Gumscleuch Burn. Then turn right at the next to continue uphill to Peat Hill, straight here leads to Loch Eddy, I think.
Once on the shoulder of Peat Hill, the path becomes more vague, & I lost it a few times. Then all signs of it disappeared all together, but it's easy enough to get to the edge of Blackhouse Forest. The original drove road enters the forest here to goto Blackhouse Tower. But for me it's a left turn to follow the edge of the forest up onto Deuchar Law. An alternative longer walk would be to continue on the drove road to Blackhouse, then join the Southern Upland Way to return.
So I left the old drove road and followed the forest up to Deuchar Law, a bit boggy on the initial downhill section, but nice easy walking on the uphill. This was the highest point of my walk, and was rewarded with some good views of the surrounding hills.
From here, it was simply to follow the forest until I joined with the Southern Upland Way.
The SUW is a great path from here all the way back to Kirkhouse, and once reaching Blake Muir, the views to the Tweed Valley are superb.
The route continued over Newhall Hill, then finally dropped down to enter Kirkhouse & so then back to my starting point.
So was my walk worth the 20 year wait? It may not have been the best walk I've ever done, but it was a great route through an area of Scotland I love to walk. Typical borders hill country with great views without too much climbing, as the high point is only around 1690 feet. For me, it was a bit of an early in the year 12 mile challenge...still had sore legs two days latter But glad to have done it.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.