Tibbie Shiels to Traquair

St. Mary's Loch

St. Mary’s Loch

This is the second day of our weekend doing the central section of the Southern Upland Way (SUW) and a kind Missus dropped us back at Tibbie Shiels Inn for the much shorter wander around St. Mary’s Loch and then over the hills to Traquair.  This was probably just as well because although it was a gorgeous morning the forecast was for snow by mid-afternoon.

SUW Opening Plaque

SUW Opening Plaque

St. Mary's Loch

St. Mary’s Loch

Wheel-barrow sculptures

Wheel-barrow sculptures

A sign on the side of the Inn commemorated the opening of the SUW and by one of those nice coincidences it was exactly 31 years previously: good to share its birthday.  The first 5km is along the south side of St. Mary’s Loch and this was just lovely with blue skies and lovely hills all around.  There was even some interesting wooden wheelbarrow sculptures beside the loch to enjoy.

Dryhope Tower

Dryhope Tower

Blackhouse Farm

Blackhouse Farm

Looking back at St. Mary's Loch

Looking back at St. Mary’s Loch

At the end of the loch we head through lambing fields (very short lead time for Jazz) and from a discreet distance watch a lamb being born – clearly it hadn’t seen the forecast!  The path crosses some fields towards the fortified Dryhope Tower – luckily we’ve had a dry spring, because otherwise this could have been a mud-bath, i.e. you Hope for Dry.  The view back from the tower towards the loch is lovely.  Now it’s a wander along a good track over the hills towards Blackhouse: this is another very remote farmhouse where, of course, the Ettrick Shepherd once lived and worked.

Jazz at picnic bench with last view of St. Mary's Loch

Last view of St. Mary’s Loch

Here comes the snow

Here comes the snow

View from Blake Muir

View from Blake Muir

Here we re-enter the forest and as my guidebook says “So begins another long ascent on the SUW”.  But this is actually not too bad: the path is lovely and the gradient just right.  Near the top some kind soul has even put a bench with the last distant view of St. Mary’s Loch.  We now pop out onto moorland for a nice walk on a great grassy path over Blake Muir.  This is ideal walking with big skies, great underfoot, and views all around with Innerleithen in the distance.  However, the blue skies of the morning have been replaced by gray and a cold wind.  As we start to descend towards Traquair the promised snow showers catch up with us and its all layers on.  We hope that lamb is sheltered.  The path finally meets the road for a couple of kilometres of road work to the pick-up point at the SUW car park at Traquair 1.  I thought the previous section was good but I think I enjoyed this one more: the wander along the lochside swung it.

Previous section of SUW: Beattock to Tibbie Shiels Inn
Next section of SUW: Traquair to Galashiels

Notes:

  1. Space for 2 cars beside the phone-box but there is a bigger car-park just up the lane (and an interpretation board!).
Distance:20km
Effort:
Scenery:
Do It Again:
Duration:4½ hours