41. Cove Harbour
start: Abbey St Bathans
A mixed route route starting inland at Abbey St Bathans, following the Southern Upland Way to the coast and returning via the dizzy heights of the southern end of the Lammermuir Hills. We visit a 13th century church on the way. There are few flat sections on the route and several parts are off-road.
The Southern Upland Way passes through Abbey St Bathans and crosses the river by a chain bridge. That section, however, through Whiteburn Farm, is for walkers only so our route follows the road out of the village going east, then north, and taking a stiff haul up to Whiteburn. Turn L at the T junction then look for the signposted Southern Upland Way track on the R at (764 652) heading for Blackburn Mill. Along here is your first view of the sea and there's a fine run down to the main A1.
Cross the A1 where a track leads to a bridge over the railway and into some woods. The track is rising gently at first but after a while you'll come to a junction where the SUW cuts back on itself and heads uphill in no uncertain manner. You can go straight on here if you want. Following the signed path takes you up along the side of the hill and gives more extensive views before dropping down again to rejoin the path further on.
Reaching the A1107 you can cross it and follow the SUW down into Pease Bay to emerge at the back of a caravan site - cross the footbridge to come onto the road with a ford on your R. This does involve a steep descent and some steps so is really only for the adventurous - a less demanding alternative takes the road which goes steeply down to join the SUW at the ford. The bay is a fine one but spoilt by the caravan site; perhaps best seen out of season.
Take the road N and uphill looking for the continuation of the SUW which takes a path along the cliff tops - there are a few steps near the start of it. Following this path gives views of a more secluded bay and further on again to a vantage point overlooking the tiny picturesque harbour at Cove. Look out for the tunnel through the rock giving access to the beach. If you work your way round towards where the track goes down to the harbour you'll see where the SUW takes a route off to the L to its finishing point in nearby Cockburnspath. It's worth the effort to go down and look around the harbour and beach.
Back up from the harbour now. If you want to go into Cockburnspath - pub, food, shop - then the easiest way is to go L and rejoin the SUW. Otherwise take the road and cross the A1 at a roundabout looking for a minor road signed for Dunglass Church. As you cross the Dunglass Burn look for the five bridges that span this deep cleft within a few hundred yards of each other.
Take the L turn into the Dunglass Estate and the church, built in 1440, soon comes into view and is worth exploring. Continue past the church on your L and go straight over where two tracks cross to reach a T junction by some cottages. Turn L. The surface deteriorates and there are trees on your R. Go through a gate into more open country as the track rises gently to Springfield Farm. Turn R onto a surfaced road to come out at the crossroads at (746 718). Turn L heading uphill.
From the top of the hill there's a good run down into Olhamstocks. Turn L heading down, then up and over to cross Heriot Water. Steep up from here taking a R turn to Dunglass Common then up to some trees on the skyline. Extensive views. That's just about all the hard work done and you can enjoy the roll down the Monynut Valley back to Abbey St Bathans.
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