A leisurely jaunt on quiet roads and short sections of track. There are three optional fords over the Ale Water. The village of Ancrum half way along the route offers a shop and pub, though not always open.
From the east end of the main street through Lilliesleaf there's a road that runs down to the river and a picnic area. You can start from here and cross the Ale Water by a footbridge, or ford it if you wish. Follow the track to a cross roads and carry straight on for one and a half kilometers or so.
Take a right turn and join NCR1 as it leads to Bewlie ford. Again, you can either be brave or take the footbridge. The track leads downhill and you need to turn left at the crossroads heading towards Longnewton. Just before reaching Longnewton, there's a burial ground on the left and it's worth spending a few moments having a look around, if for no other reason than to admire the views of the Eildons.
Go through Longnewton - really just a few cottages - and take the road southeast. This has long straight stretches and leads eventually to the main A68. The obvious tower on the hill up ahead is the Waterloo Monument on Peniel Heugh.
Shortly before reaching the A68 look for a track on the right. This leads along and then down to the right to meet the river by some abandoned buildings. A fine arched bridge crosses the Ale Water or, again, there's the option of a ford if you prefer.
Across the river is the ruins of a church and another burial ground. The trail leads round it and then up to meet the road. Our route goes to the right but if you haven't been to Ancrum then it would be a shame to miss it out. There's a village green which makes a pleasant place for a break or bite to eat.
NCR1 takes you easily back to a crossroads that you passed earlier. This time the route goes left and takes you easily back to the start in Lilliesleaf.
john b, galashiels
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