Southern Upland Way 26 Main Street , St Johns Town of Dalry , Castle Douglas , Scotland, DG7 3UW, United Kingdom
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12. Traquair (Innerleithen) to Melrose

Nearest Town: Galashiels

Start: Traquair

Finish: Galashiels & Melrose

Accomodation Search: Click here

•Distance: 17.3 miles
•Approx. Time: 7hours
Difficulty: Moderate/images/gradientmoderate
12. Traquair (Innerleithen) to Melrose
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Route Description

This section takes you down into the one urban area of the route – famous for its tweed and woollen industry. Woodland gives way to moorland as you reach the edge of the two towns, with a riverside walk to the Chain Bridge in the middle of Melrose town, venue of the famous annual Rugby 7s tournament.

There is no doubt the most impressive views in this section are those across the river towards Scott's home of Abbotsford and the ruins of Melrose Abbey.

Please note: The mileage displayed is an average mileage for this section and is dependent on your accommodation location in Gala / Melrose.


(POINT 512m)

*Innerleithen is a 1.3 mile (2.1km) detour from the SUW. This distance is not added to the cumulative distance along the route.

Detailed Description

Traquair Crossroads to Yair Bridge (10 miles):
Starting at the crossroads (NT 331347) in the middle of Traquair, take the minor road uphill past the turn for the school, onto track running almost straight up the hill towards the woods. After passing through Dunbetha Knowe copse, the Way runs along the side of a wall, beyond which is open moorland and a former sheiling converted to the Minch Moor Bothy (NT 342337), surprisingly close to Traquair. Walkers following the Way keep to the track and re-enter the woods, the track diminishing to a stony path (the 'Minchmoor Road') beside a stone wall through the plantations and across a section of open hillside. The path follows the line of an old drovers' track to the so-called 'Cheese Well', a spring where offerings of cheese were left for the 'Wee Folk' as a cantraip against harm. This was probably a pagan shrine, whose veneration has fallen to superstition.
Beyond the well, the path skirts the edge of the woods for a bit before crossing them to a long open ride across Little Minch Moor up onto Hare Law. Soon after crossing a wall, the Way leaves the Minchmoor Road, turning right at a Y-junction to head east beside a wall towards the junction of three walls on Brown Knowe. About a hundred yards short of the summit, the path crosses the so-called 'Wallace's Trench', although the association is uncertain and the Trench may date from another period than that of the famous patriot. Crossing the walls on Brown Knowe, the Way continues to follow the old drove road, crossing the Cameron Burn in its steep gully before following the north side of a wall from the Burn for nearly a mile across Broomy Law to the western tip of Yair Hill Forest plantations. Note the grouse butts on the side of Broomy Law, from the days before plantations when this was an important shooting area.

Just short of the plantation, a stile across the wall leads onto a waymarked path for the Youth Hostel (NT 417303) at Broadmeadows, about a mile south of the Way.

The Way continues just inside the edge of the plantations eastwards and almost to the top of the stony hill where the beehive-like cairns called The Three Brethren stand. This offers an excellent view. Turning right (south) the Way next heads downhill beside and round to a stile through a fence, then left (east) a short distance through the wood on a path until it reaches a forest track. This is crossed and a path taken down to another track, which is followed to the left (north) down to Shorthope Burn. After crossing the Burn, the Way follows its northern side along forest tracks to the edge of the woods overlooking the House of Yair. Tracks are followed right (northeast) between the edge of the woods and the Burn until the drive to the House of Yair is reached.

The House of Yair is a rather beautiful late-1700s building, but the Way does not go near it, heading right (east) along the drive beside the River Tweed to Yair Bridge.

Yair Bridge to Old Town of Galashiels:
This section offers a short and fairly easy walk across the hills into Galashiels.
Crossing Yair Bridge to the north bank, follow the B7060 round to the left, then turn right (north) up the farm track beside the cottages by Fairnilee Farm. Following the track up across the corner of the wood, keep going up Fairnilee Hill into the shelter-belt. At that point, follow the track round through the trees onto the east flank of the hill to where the track divides near a small burn. Taking the right-hand track, head across the burn towards and through a gap between two small plantations on Hog Hill, from where a field-wall heads towards a small plantation about a third of a mile to the northeast. The Way crosses a wall-line but follows a track trending towards the small plantation, which it passes on the left (west) side. From here, Galashiels can be seen on a clear day. The Way proceeds about half a mile down the slope of the spur of the hill to cross a second small fir and beech plantation by way of stiles and path. Once beyond the plantation, the Way keeps to the crest of the spur, going steadily downhill towards the woods at the base of Gala Hill, joining a track heading towards the minor road around Gala Hill.

Note that at this point the original Southern Upland Way went onto the road and down the hill towards Galashiels. This may in fact be a reasonable diversion as a road-head. The track joins the road at NT 487354. The Way is rejoined from the road at a junction with Barr Road at NT 492356.

Following the official route down into the Old Town of Galashiels, turn left (north) on reaching the corner of the woods, leaving the track, then crossing and following the left (west) bank of the Moss Burn down to where a stile marks a left to in the Way across into the grounds of Gala House and the School. The Way goes round the back of the School, through a path between rhodedendron bushes, crosses a footbridge at the edge of a small pond, turns right in front of the school and follows a path to the Church, with its sandstone steeple. From this point, one can reach the shops and other amenities of Galashiels.

Old Town of Galashiels to Melrose:
This is a fairly short but rather tortuous section making use of suburban paths and a dismantled section of railway. Its main attraction is the view it gives of Sir Walter Scott's home at Abbotsford from across the River Tweed and its proximity to Melrose Abbey, where the casket of the heart of King Robert I is buried.
From the Church, head along the street to the next left turn for Gala Hill and proceed uphill, taking the third road on the left (Barr Road) at NT492356. Proceed along Barr Road to its end and along the tree-lined track to the Roger Quinn memorial, following the wall-line south across two fields to a house beside a minor road at NT 499341. Turn left (north) onto the minor road for about two hundred yards, making a turn right and then immediately left onto steps down to the A7 (T).

Caution: Care should be taken crossing this busy main road.

Follow the No Through Road opposite the steps between the farm and the cottages down onto the path along the riverbank. There is an excellent view of Abbotsford and the path itself has wildlife interest, with wild garlic and house martens in the summer season. Unfortunately, the path goes under a concrete bridge and joins a minor road, passing a sewage works before the Way turns right (east) under some power lines onto a footpath and cycle track on a dismantled railway line. This nevertheless gives a good crossing of the River Tweed on a high viaduct, and a fairly good illusion of the country in the town. The Way leaves the trackbed about a mile from the viaduct, turning left onto a side-path that leads across a road to the riverbank. This provides a pleasant walk of about half a mile until it turns up the bank onto a minor road (NT 539345). This road provides the crossing of a burn, after which the walker can walk the short distance onto the B6374, turning left down the street to the centre of Melrose.

Advice to Walkers:
Walkers are strongly recommended to make any purchases they require for the remainder of their walk towards Cockburnspath in either Galashiels or Melrose, as the shops in Lauder are otherwise the only ones before reaching the coast at Pease Bay.