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The Hermitage TrailWe follow in the footsteps of the Border reivers to Hermitage Castle and Liddesdale, “the bloodiest valley in Britain”. Once echoing with the sound of hooves, the lowing of stolen cattle and the clash of steel, these beautiful and dramatic hillsides are now peaceful with just a scattering of sheep. We also visit Johnnie Armstrong’s tower at Gilnockie and hear some stories of ‘Truce Days’ on the English border.
The Ettrick TrailFirst we follow the river Esk up a remote valley filled with extraordinary people and places – one of Britain’s best-known engineers, an ancient kings’ grave, neolithic stone circles, and a most amazing monastery. We hear of covenanters and pedlars before dropping down to Ettrick to hear about Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd. As we return to Selkirk there are stories and songs concerning poets, reivers, covenanters, wizards - two fairy queens.
The Dryhope TrailYou could not find anywhere more peaceful than Yarrow and St Mary’s Loch. But first we hear about the bloody Civil War battle of Philiphaugh and ponder on two very old gravestones. Later, Moffat has songs and stories of its own and climbing up to the source of the Tweed we pass the Devil’s Beeftub (where stolen cattle could conveniently be hidden). And with a nod to Robert Burns, we hear of the wizard Merlin as we pass his grave. Finally by impressive Neidpath Castle to Peebles.
The Traquair TrailWe head down the old drove road beside the Tweed to enjoy charming Traquair, home to a dynasty of Lowland Jacobites. Over the hills, then, to Lauder and magnificent Thirlestane Castle, ancient seat of the Earls of Lauderdale. Then there are stories of the Eildon Hills and Thomas the Rhymer. Finally dramatic landscape such as Scott’s View and the panorama from the sentry walk on Smailholm Tower. Enjoy the heart of the Borders!
The Hume TrailThese ‘Merse’ or fertile lands were home to the powerful Hume Family - who had to have their wits about them over the centuries as the powerful English flexed their muscles. The trail weaves across to Berwick with its extraordinary Elizabethan fortifications and Kings Own Scottish Borderers museum. The stories now concern the slow and majestic Tweed, its nettings, wildlife and legends. We head up stream to Coldstream, finally pausing at historic Paxton House.
The Flodden TrailWe’re quickly at Flodden Battlefield to learn about a devastating day for Scotland. Then, following the foothills of the Cheviots we’re on small pretty roads with wide views and reiving stories. There’s gypsy music at Kirk and Town Yetholm – the twin towns where the clan chiefs were buried after Flodden. We cross Roman ‘Dere Street’ before dropping into Jedburgh with its stunning medieval abbey. The way to Hawick, home of Scottish knitwear, is by Denholm, birthplace of two extraordinary men who made an impact on the world.