Scottish National Trail - Melrose to Slateford

Date walked: 28/02/2013

Time taken: 3 days

Distance: 80km

Melrose to Edinburgh Day One

The day has finally arrived to start the first section of the Scottish National Trail although we are doing the second section first which is Melrose to Slateford (Edinburgh). Melrose is a beautiful village, hidden in the hills in south east Scotland between Galashiels and St. Boswells. Steeped in history it is the home of Sir Walter Scott's home (Abbotsford House) and the wonderful old abbey is the final resting place of Robert the Bruce's heart. We arrive and leave Melrose on Thursday 28th February. It's a cold, crisp morning but the sun is shining brightly and it's obviously going to be warm later on in the day.

You could spend the day in Melrose visiting historical venues however this is our starting point and we have a lot of walking to do so we leave Melrose, with the abbey on our right, heading towards the chain bridge over the river Tweed. This is clearly marked as part of the Southern Upland Way.
The first leg starts off gently along the Tweed, meandering up to some steps up to a point that overlooks Skirmish Hill, the scene of a small battle which was overlooked by a 14 year old King James V. A couple of miles later and you are approaching Galashiels. I didn't have any need to go into Galashiels so rather than follow the Southern Upland Way around the north of the town we walked around the south and re-joined the path further on which saved a little bit of time. It's only after leaving Galashiels that we start to feel as though we're leaving civilisation behind for the first time. We made our way up Hog hill and pause for a while to have some lunch, next to a cairn which, strangely didn't seem to appear on the map. Following the way down to a car park at Yair we then moved into into some woods where we were shielded from the hot sunshine which hadn't let up all day. The climb up to the Three Bretheren brings on a bit of a sweat and zaps the already tiring legs.

Past Minch Moor we begin to descend as the last of the daylight is closing. We can see Traquiar down below where we intend to camp. We finally come across the first people we've seen since leaving Galshiels earlier in the day. A couple of young kids out walking their dogs. I ask what is in Traquair and they simply say Traquair house but nothing else which makes me laugh. As the light fails we pitch our tents in a field and get some food on the go with a brew. The tents are up in minutes and the beds are ready, it's only about 7pm. After eating we are both shattered so we tend to our slightly blistered feet and get our heads down for the night falling asleep almost instantly. We would be up and away by about 6 the following day as it's a long leg ahead.

Melrose to Edinburgh Day Two (Traquair-West Linton)

Early rise on Friday 01st March after a cold night in the tents and interesting body odour from under the arms although I can't blame the wife as we had seperate tents. She, as always smells of roses due to her odourless merino top. A quick brew, pack up and on the road walk towards Cardrona which looks big enough on the map to have more than the 3 houses and a phone box in the beautiful village of Traquair. Not a huge fan of walking on the road, especially the type where people fly round blind bends however we cover the 3 miles to Cardrona and are greeted by houses and a small play park but no sign of any shops however just when we thought the nearest pit stop was going to be Peebles we turn right at a sign post for Cardrona Village and just on the left, at the roundabout is a lovely village store.

If you go into the store, apart from being able to get plenty of supplies and a lovely bacon/sausage roll and a cup of tea/coffee you will be able to meet Linda the owner who was a lovely lady that looked after us well. Linda also gave us a bit of info about the local area. She told us the path and bridge were just about complete and she was expecting the path to get a bit busy with cyclist and walkers in the future. We set off from Cardrona along the freshly laid path making one little detour onto the golf course to avoid the workmen laying the tarmac. The next 7 to 8 miles is mainly flat and follows the banks of the Tweed but be careful just after the odourless, merino sewage works there is a path leading up to the road and if you don't take it you are met by someone's garden gate which is triple padlocked with a sign saying no walkers. If you jump it and run really quick the chap is not fast enough to catch you. On the other side of his garden is a field which leads you into the start of Peebles where you are greeted by rugby pitches and sports fields. We stopped in Peebles for a short time and were lucky enough to see the golden postbox in honour of Olympic showjumping winner Scott Brash.

We left Peebles, heading out past the Rosetta camp site and follow the old drove road signs for West Linton. This takes you along the east side of Hamilton hill. We took a bit of a detour at this point to save a little time and dropped down west to the kidston burn and followed the path next to the wall to the east of white meldon, rounding the hill before dropping down to the car park at harehope forest. The was plenty of wildlife on the walk with loads on white meldon. Hares, birds and I got a bit peckish so ate a sheep and all that was left is shown below.

For fear of a law suit I'd like to point out I was only joking and in fact found the skull laying on the hill. From the car park follow the forest track to upper stewarton farm and then back into the forest which is clearly marked with posts as the drove road to West Linton.

We stopped for lunch when we came out of the forest onto a landrover track overlooking an old farmhouse that was only housing sheep now. The path falls down to a river and again it is well sign posted to work your way up the side of the hill before snaking your way through the hills with some stunning scenery.

A long stretch through the hills before dropping down to Romanno Bridge. At this point it should be a short road walk to a track leading into West Linton however we were unable to find the track however hard we tried. The traffic hurtles along this road as well so take care. Disappointingly we had to take the last two and a half miles by road into West Linton which played havoc with the aching feet. We arrived in West Linton where we booked into the Gordon Arms Hotel for a well earned meal, shower and bed for the night.

The hotel charges for B and B and a twin room cost us £75. The food was outstanding and very reasonably priced. The only misfortune we had was that a stag night was on which we heard in our room until at least midnight. Again the food in the morning was excellent and the path for the start of the next day is directly opposite the hotel.

Melrose to Edinburgh Day 3. West Linton to Edinburgh

Another beautiful, sun kissed day as we set off up the track opposite the Gordon Arms Hotel. A short climb up to some farms and along a well marked route. Passing one of the farms we were greeted by the sound of a ferocious killer, although it actually turned out to be a soppy looking retriever carrying it's rabbit teddy bear. It must be something about the breed because mine has a monkey teddy bear and Dylan, my sister in laws old dog had a teddy as well which they look after like a child with a comforter.

We passed through some more amazing scenic hillsides before passing the North Esk reservoir which indicated we had finally reached the Pentland hills. I've walked some parts of the Pentlands previously but hadn't realised how stunning the whole area really is. It was icy in areas with some patches of snow which only added to the beauty. The ground was boggy in parts but not too bad and we came across an entire track made from logs laid side by side. Due to it being wet this was a bit difficult and we had to take care not to slip. This road had obviously been laid to allow vehicles up to the higher points.

After moving across the Pentlands we dropped down to join the Water of Leith walkway which tells us we're close to the finishing point for this leg but we're not silly enough to start to relax just yet as there is still a good few miles to go. There's a lot more people on this part of the walk which tells you you're getting closer to the city. We soon picked up signs for the canal and the visitor centre which marks the end of this part of the route. There are regular signs, with mile markers on so we knew exactly how far there was to go before we arrived at the canal. Until now any walking I had done was always to the north however this truly stunning walk has changed my thoughts and will certainly make me think about heading south in the future. The only downside to this entire walk for me was with Edinburgh council or more realistically Edinburgh and Lothian buses. Standing, in pieces after the walk, the bus arrived only for the driver to say "I can't take that £5 note for a £4 journey, we don't give change". What he failed to mention was that he could've taken the £5 without giving us any change, which I would have gladly done. I then had to walk around another 3/4 mile to find a shop for change only to be told by the next driver that they could've taken the £5. Not happy however I didn't let it ruin my memories of the walk but this really seems like a way to rip off un-knowing tourists to me which contribute a massive amount to Edinburgh's economy. I certainly won't be using the bus in future unless I have to.

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Activity: Munro compleatist
Pub: Clachaig Inn
Place: Glencoe
Gear: ME Kongur jkt
Camera: Canon EOS 450D
Ideal day out: A long walk involving a bit of character, wee bit of scrambling, views of the sea or lochs, no midges, finishing with a well earned pint (or 5) next to a log fire and some decent tunes..

Munros: 147
Corbetts: 1
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   

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Trips: 1
Distance: 80 km

Joined: Oct 21, 2011
Last visited: May 09, 2021
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