A mixed terrain circular route following a disused railway, quiet country roads and part of a long distance footpath. Mostly easy with a strenuous section near the end. The route affords fine views for most of its length, with the final section being especially scenic, visits the following towns and villages:- Lauder, Oxton, Fountainhall, Galashiels, Melrose, Gattonside.
Leave the Market Square heading North on the A68. Turn left after filling station into industrial estate, through this, turn left towards a wood where the railway can be found. Follow this for 2 miles (some gates) and where track is blocked turn left to Blackburn farm and rejoin A68. After 1 mile turn left (signposted Midburn) and follow this road to Oxton (shop, hotel) . At the crossroads go straight over, past cemetery and after 1km the railway can be rejoined on the left. Follow this until a detour around a gas sub-station is necessary. Continue on the road for 3km until Threeburnford Farm is reached. Here the railway can be rejoined and followed for 3km to Middletoun Farm. From here it is possible to continue via the railway to the A7 but some stretches are very vegetated, especially in summer, and it is probably better to reach the A7 by the track from Middletoun passing Cortleferry. Crossing the A7 the small village of Fountainhall is reached. Go through the village and continue for 7km along an undulating road. The attractive village of Stow (shops, pubs) can be seen on the left and can be reached in a few minutes.
The route however continues south on the west side of Gala Water for 4km. 1km past Ferniehirst leave the road at a sharp corner (450 412) and head south passing Dryburn and join the B710. Stay on this road heading south until a track can be seen on the left (455 394). Follow this to Torwoodlee Mains and on to the A72. Turn left and continue towards Galashiels (cycle shops, banks, pubs etc). Turn left at B&Q and join a footpath/cycleway, known locally as the 'Black Path'. When you come to the Abbotsford Hotel there's a break in the path - go L of the hotel and follow the road right at a mini-roundabout past the ASDA supermarket on the left to another car park by the river.
Pick up the cycle path again alongside the river and this leads easily through Galashiels and Langlee. On reaching a roundabout turn left and follow signs for Melrose. Leave the town by the B6361 passing the Abbey and Motor Museum. Turn left just past the museum and follow the track which leads, via a suspension bridge, to Gattonside.
On reaching the B6360 turn left and head west back towards Galashiels. 400 metres out of the village a steep track leads up to the right (534 350). This is the Southern Upland Way which is followed over varied and often steep terrain for 15km back to the starting point in Lauder. This final section provides some excellent mountain biking through some fine countryside with the prospect of a fine pint of real ale in the Eagle Hotel awaiting the successful traveller.
w k dodds, lauder
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