Showing posts from January, 2017

Walk: On Cademuir Hill - a writer's round

Scottish Borders | Peebles | Half day walk | ★★★

Long before the town of Peebles was founded, iron age settlers established three great hill forts on nearby Cademuir Hill. Much later in the 1890s, budding author John Buchan wrote a short story entitled "On Cademuir Hill" about the local landscape. Fittingly then, the recently opened John Buchan Way provides the route for the first half of this varied circuit, visiting the trio of forts with superb views over the Manor Water - meandering haphazardly "like the scrawl of a pen of a bad writer" as perfectly described by Buchan. Views are a little more restricted for the return along the River Tweed, but with plenty to look out for including an old viaduct and a couple of imposing tower houses, as well as the river itself.

📌 Walk: On Cademuir Hill - a writer's round ★★★
Start / finish at Kingsmeadows car park, Kingsmeadows Road (B7062), 5-min walk south of Peebles town centre, G.R.: NT 252402 ///pickup.against.charm

Peebles Old Parish Church

Scottish Borders | Peebles | Church | ★★

Despite the name, Peebles Old Parish Church is the newest in the chain of Peebles parish churches. The chain began with St Andrew's, transferred to Cross Kirk in the northern Old Town across the Eddleston Water, continued with a new church built in 1784 on the burn's south bank, and finished with the current building in 1887, on the same site as its predecessor. Got all that? The interior feels slightly smaller than you might expect given how the church dominates the west end of the High Street, but features beautiful stained glass windows, paintings, flags and galleries on 3 sides.

Location & info

📌 Peebles Old Parish Church★★
West end of High Street, Peebles town centre, G.R.: NT 250404 ///tiger.ponies.lurching
Open daily | Free

Cross Kirk

Scottish Borders | Peebles | Church | ★★

Cross Kirk is a wooded pocket of history amidst a quiet residential area of Peebles. In 1241, an ornate cross and an urn containing the ashes of St Nicholas - Bishop of Myra, and the origin of Santa Claus - were discovered on the site, leading to the founding of the priory soon after. Cross Kirk later served as the town's parish church after nearby St Andrew's burned down, finally being abandoned in 1784 as the congregation moved to yet another church. Quite a lot of Cross Kirk itself still survives, though less remains of the original monastery outbuildings. It's a peaceful spot - apart from the pair of starlings viciously attacking each other when we were there.

Location & info

📌 Cross Kirk★★
Cross Road, 5-min walk north of Peebles town centre, G.R.: NT 251407 ///subplot.trees.summer
Always open | Free

St Andrew's Tower

Scottish Borders | Peebles | Church | ★

St Andrew's Tower, and a fragment of wall draped in vegetation beside it, is the oldest building still (partly) standing in Peebles. It belongs to St Andrew's Church, the town's parish church for 450 years from 1195 until 1548, when the rest of the church burned down in an attack by one of Henry VIII's armies. Cross Kirk became Peebles' new place of worship, but the old tower has survived another 450 years and is now the centrepiece to the town cemetery. The rest of the church is mostly gone, though some of the stones now form part of the road bridge over the River Tweed!

Location & info

📌 St Andrew's Tower (Peebles) ★
Neidpath Road (A72), 10-min walk west of Peebles town centre, G.R.: NT 246406 ///newsreel.honest.cabbages. Car park adjacent.
Always open (exterior only) | Free


Scottish Borders | Town | ★★

An attractive former market settlement at the confluence of the Eddleston Water and the River Tweed, Peebles is a typically handsome Borders town and a great place for a day out. The town has a long history stretching back well beyond its designation as a Royal Burgh in 1152, though various fires and attacks by the English over the centuries mean most of what you see today dates from Victorian times. The attractive Chambers Institution houses a small museum and art gallery as well as the town library. Church lovers have come to the right place: Peebles has a seemingly huge number of churches for its size - a particularly interesting trio of parish (and former parish) churches are listed below. At the rather more active end of the scale, 7stanes Glentress is just down the road: arguably Scotland's best mountain biking hub.


📌 Peebles ★★
Scottish Borders, G.R.: NT 251404 ///middle.countries.patrol

🚶 There's plenty to see within walking distan…

Walk: The lively leks of Lammer Law

East Lothian | Lammermuir Hills | Half day walk | ★★★

Lammer Law is one of the highest parts of the broad swathe of moorland known as the Lammermuir Hills. The range translates as "lambs' moor", but instead it was huge numbers of grouse that had taken up ownership of the heather slopes on our visit. The massive pile of stones at the summit commands surprisingly extensive views right across the Southern Uplands and Central Belt, with even the Cairngorms and Ochil Hills easily picked out in clear weather. Wide tracks give good progress over pleasantly rolling ground, later descending through a sinuous glen concealing Hopes Reservoir before a longish section on tarmac. There mightn't be anything spectacular about this circuit on paper, but fully immerse yourself in the landscape and it really grouse on you... er, grows on you.

📌 Walk: The lively leks of Lammer Law ★★★
Start / finish near (private) Blinkbonny Wood car park (space to park on verge), or anywhere along the …

Cathkin Braes Country Park

Glasgow | Carmunnock | Park | ★★★

Cathkin Braes is found on high ground to the south of Glasgow. Formerly frequented by groups as diverse as Celtic tribes, Mary, Queen of Scots and wealthy estate owners, it now forms a scenic country park. The braes rise to 192 metres above sea level at Queen Mary's Seat, making it the highest hill officially within Glasgow City's boundaries. Unsurprisingly then, for superb views over Greater Glasgow it probably has no equal, though the Car park in the sky on Gleniffer Braes comes close. We were lucky (on Friday 13th!) to see it all under a fresh dusting of powdery snow on our January visit. A good path network, which seems to get muddier the further west you go, intertwines with a number of mountain bike trails built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games; the latter seemed popular even in the icy conditions.

Location & info

📌 Cathkin Braes Country Park★★★
Between Carmunnock and Cambuslang. The summit viewpoint is off the B759 at G.R.: NS 616586

Walk: Craig Rossie - Auchterarder's Ochil

Perth & Kinross | Ochil Hills | Half day walk | ★★★

Craig Rossie stands out from the other summits on the north side of the Ochils hill range. Instead of gentle grassy inclines, small crags and scree patches characterise its slopes, especially if you approach the walk's start point from the eastern side. A beautiful path curves up the broad ridge for a direct ascent - Auchterarder, the A9 and a busy railway line laid out behind across fertile Strathearn. Descending to the south brings peace and quiet as well as views into the heart of the range, with a good track back to base once you've negotiated the odd swampy section before.

📌 Walk: Craig Rossie - Auchterarder's Ochil ★★★
Start / finish at track junction on the B8062 just east of Pairney Farm (space for a couple of cars on the track without blocking field access; small cars may also be able to park on the B8062 itself), 3 mi east of Auchterarder, G.R.: NN 979133 ///early.corner.promising

▶ 7 km / 4 mi | ▲ 360 m | ⌚…