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14. Lauder to Longformacus

Lauder to

Start: Lauder

Finish: Longformacus

Nearest Town: Lauder

• Distance: 15.4 miles

• Height Gain:
• Approx. Time: 6hours

• Relevant Map:
Difficulty: Moderate

• Terrain:
• Toilets:
• Refreshments:
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Route Description
This section crosses fertile agricultural land, over the soft heather-covered contours of the historic Lammermuir Hills.

For those who have come the long way from Portpatrick, this fifteen-mile section bears some comparison with the long hill sections through Dumfries and Galloway, but with fewer trees and wider views.

The lack of windbreaks on this section limits shelter from bad weather. For most of the distance, there are no farm buildings or woods, and no easy routes down to farms or villages. You should therefore be prepared for an open bivouac, carrying either a tent or a survival bag.


TWIN LAW (447m)

Detailed Description

Lauder to Longformacus (no intervening roadheads):
Proceed from either the centre of Lauder or the Police Station east along the A68 (T) for two to three hundred yards to the left turn (north) into the drive beside the gate-lodge of Thirlestance Castle. Continue past the stables, then leave the drive and follow a wall straight towards the river (Leader Water). At the river, turn left along the bank for the footbridge, crossing into a small copse and then walking up the left side of a section of woodland, which is entered just short of a small burn. The burn gulley is followed to the far side of the woodland, the Way then turning sharp right (east) onto a track beside the woods as far as the A697 road.

Crossing the road, the Way proceeds up a farm road to Wanton Walls Farm; the Way goes round the east side of the buildings, following a field track up into Park Hill woods, reaching a junction of four forest tracks at NT 553487. At this point the Way turns right (east) along a forest track until it reaches the corner of the wood, then turns hard left across a stile back along the wall on the eastern edge of the wood, before crossing another stile across a field wall and heading for a marker-post at the hilltop. The Way descends a section of moorland between two sheepfolds, to cross Snawdon Burn and a field track before proceeding uphill beside a wall, which is crossed by a stile beside a cattle-grid (NT 563501). The track is followed to the far edge of the field, before the Way turns right (east) beside a wall to a stile where it crosses Blithe Water burn.

The next part of the Way is poorly defined, but the walker should head across fields and a wall towards the plantation on Scoured Rig. A stile in the wall along the hilltop should be crossed before turning left (north) beside a wall running towards a break in the plantations where a field track passes between them. Note that although Scoured Rig plantation does have a central track, access from the southern edge is uncertain and not all forest tracks are necessarily passable or agreed rights of way. It is safer to keep to the route from the stile.
From the break in Scoured Rig plantation, the Way follows the field track across and slightly downhill towards a farm, but turns away uphill towards a line of grouse-shooting butts and so uphill to the corner of a fenced field. Continuing northeastwards for a further two miles, the Way passes a quarry, a sheepfold with a square of plantation and a second small quarry, before coming to an end at a wall on a hilltop (NT 613556) marking the County Boundary. The Way turns to the right (southeast) beside the wall until it crosses a stile at which three boundaries meet, then heads uphill to the Twin Laws cairns (NT 624548).
The cairns reputedly mark a place where two champions (Scots and English) fought to the death, not knowing they were brothers separated at birth - the kind of legend that may hide a grimmer truth; Border reiving families were often split by feuds, cousin certainly fighting cousin, if not brother fighting brother. One is tempted to ask if it was a case of two ''in-laws'' who fell out. The cairns themselves are interesting items of stonework and mark an excellent viewpoint in good weather; one offers a niche to look towards the distant North Sea.
From the Cairns, the Way descends eastwards to a stile across a wall, before following a wall round to the right (east) for about a mile down to a field track and across a burn. The Way keeps to the right on the next two junctions of field tracks, heading down a track past Scarlaw Farm and a ruined pele tower, with Watch Water Reservoir down to the right beyond some fields. The Way turns right (east) to cross the spillway of the reservoir dam and along the dam itself, before turning right (south) down the side of the Reservoir for a short climb over Windy Law and the last two miles to Longformacus. The Way follows the track to a junction with a minor road (NT 671558) where it turns left (northwest); the Way passes Rawburn Farm and Rathburne House before a straight walk downhill into the village of Longformacus.

At the bridge, one can turn left towards the Post Office or right along the main road for a few hundred yards, before leaving the village for the walk to Abbey St. Bathans.