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11. St Mary's Loch to Traquair

Nearest Town: Innerleithen

Start: St Mary's Loch

Finish: Traquair

•Distance: 12 miles
•Approx. Time: 5hours
Difficulty: Moderate/images/gradientmoderate
11. St Mary's Loch to Traquair
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Route Description

While the previous section offered quite a few challenges, the section through to Traquair is considerably easier. A gentle route alongside St. Mary’s Loch to Dryhope is followed by a gentle climb through moorland and woodland before dropping down into Traquair.

The small town of Innerleithen is about a mile and a half from Traquair and offers a wider choice of accommodation plus shopping, banks and a post office.

On the way, look out for the ruins of 16th century Dryhope Tower, standing by the northern shores the Loch, once home of Mary Queen of Scott.


Detailed Description

St Mary's Loch to Dryhope:

The main part of this is a walk beside St. Mary's Loch. Beginning at Tibbie Shiels Inn, proceed through the grounds of the Sailing Club to the lochside, then turning right (east) along the loch shore for about half a mile to a footbridge in March Wood. The path skirts the wooded base of Bowerhope Law until it reaches the small farm of Bowerhope, where it joins the lochside forest track for two or so miles to Dryhope bridge. The contrast of loch, woodland and moorland, seen across the loch from the path, makes a pleasant view. Turn left across the bridge, then right across a stile onto the river bank, continuing on a short distance before crossing a footbridge and heading up to the A708 road (Moffat-Selkirk).

Dryhope to Traquair:
From the A708 follow the Way northeast from a stile beside a farm wall, until the Way reaches a farm track just to the east of Dryhope Tower and continues up beside Dryhope Burn. Below the earthwork on Mid Hill the Way leaves the track and becomes a grassy path across the flanks of the Hawkshaw Rigs, crossing two small burns on footbridges before heading down across Douglas Burn footbridge towards Blackhouse Tower. Turn left onto the track towards Craighope Farm then right (north-east) onto the track leading into the Brakehope Rig plantations. The track runs fairly straight up through the woods not far from Craighope Burn, crossing another forest track before petering out into a woodland path which the Way follows onto the Middle Rig Moors.

The Way is less distinct on the open moor, but follows waymarkers and crosses two small burns before passing well to the left (west) of a cairn on the brow of the hill. There is then a descent along the side of the hill into the head of the Sprain Burn and across a wall before rising to the top of Blake Muir, following the right side of a wall to the hilltop. From there, the Way descends the spur of Newhall Hill towards a stile at the left (west) corner of a covert of broadleaf and coniferous trees. Innerleithen can be seen in the distance, with nearer at hand a gate at a junction of three walls. The gate leads onto a path with gorse on one side and conifers on the other, becoming a walled farm track down a hill spur past a line of beech trees. The track reaches the B709 road, the Way passing left along the road past an 18th-century church with an external staircase, then the gardens of Kirkbridge House.

From this point, it is something over a mile down the road and into Traquair, crossing the Kirk and Fingland Bridges to the centre of the village. Those with enough time are strongly recommended to turn left over the Knowe Bridge to visit Traquair House, the oldest continuously-inhabited house in Scotland, with its own excellent small brewery. The Traquair beer is a particularly good way of celebrating the walk from Tibbie Shiels Inn, whilst the house itself offers a mass of historical delights.