After yesterday’s hills it was time to treat our legs to an easy wander and a stretch of the Southern Upland Way was next up on our master plan. With the assistance of a helpful parent we got dropped off in a dreich but humid Galashiels for the start of the walk to Lauder. We were getting the tail-end of Hurricane Irene: New England got a metre of rain; Galashiels gets slightly damp.
By this point the SUW is moving into lower and greener countryside which provided a marked contrast to the sections further west that we are used to. The path follows the old railway (thanks Dr Beeching) crossing the Tweed on its way to Melrose. The part along the river near Melrose was very attractive with Salmon jumping, old trees with Nuthatches calling, and nice houses beside the river. You can see why old Walter Scott liked the place so much. In Melrose we crossed the Tweed again, this time over a nice old suspension bridge to the north side. The path then doubles back until it heads north following the line of an old Roman road towards Lauder. You can tell the Romans came this way because someone left their sandals behind!
It’s all rolling countryside around here with mixed farming: lots of fields with grain trying to ripen but also lots of others stuffed full of sheep and cattle and the SUW heads straight through them. This proved a bit of problem when we crested a hill to find a couple of tonnes of bull chatting to his girlfriends on the path. An immediate about-turn and strategic detour around the field and through a wood added a kilometre to the route but avoided any goring unpleasantness that would ruin the day.
The path continues in a nice line along the hill crest 1 giving nice views into Lauderdale. Just outside Lauder it takes a dog-leg and drops down into the town itself. We were aiming to get the hourly bus and our timing was immaculate as you’d expect. Unfortunately the bus was a little early and we saw it drive past the end of our side road. So at the end of a day’s walk the good people of Lauder were treated to man+dog sprinting down the main street to (successfully) catch the bus. 2
This was an interesting change in feel to the SUW, and we particularly liked the part along the Tweed. The area has another path, the Borders Abbeys Way, that is a 109km circuit taking in the famous abbeys (no, really). This would make a very pleasant week’s walking – something to add to the list.
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