90. Upper Tweeddale
This is a pleasant jaunt in Upper Tweeddale, out along one side of the river and back along the other. On the outward leg you'll poke your nose up a number or of valleys and, as always, there's room to explore them further if you wish.
The 1:50000 map shows a number of gaps in the route, but it does go.
Start wherever is convenient but this route is described from the end of a small tarred road to the SE of Drumelzier. Go down the track towards the river for 300m or so and when a cottage comes in to view ahead and to the left, look for a metal gate on the L leading into a field. Enter the grassy fiels and keep to the R of a wire fence as you follow it to another gate.
Go through this second gate and the track becomes more obvious now as you pass to the L of some trees. The grassy trail leads along the E bank of the Tweed passing a small footbridge - note this because you'll probably need to cross it on the 'home' leg.
It's an easy trail all the way to Stanhope. Note the route heading up the valley to the left signed for Dollar Law and the Thief's Road.
Pass Patervan Farm and as you near a mast head uphill a short way before the track follows the edge of the trees and starts climbing up the hillside a little. It leads round into the next valley for some way before you can cross the Polmood Burn and pick up the track back into the trees.
This pattern of pushing some way up valleys and crossing the stream is repeated two or three times more before Tweedsmuir with its church spire appears just down to the right and ahead of you. It should be fairly obvious wher you need to cut back on the trail and head downhill slightly to pick up the track, then narrow road, into the village.
Reaching the crossroads, the road to the left would take you up a long dramatic valley past Talla dama and reservoir. If you continue, the road over to Megget must take in arguably the steepest hill in Scotland... it's a brute!
Straight on at the crossroads takes you to Fruid, but we go right to meet the main road. Although it's an A-road it isn't really busy. You might be fooled into thinking the the hotel marked on the map would provide refreshment... but you'd be disappointed becaue the historic Crook Inn shut its doors some years ago and is boarded up. There have been attempts to redevelop it, and even reopen it as a pub/hotel, but these plans have come to nought so far (2011).
The trip back along the road is a much swifter affair than the outward journey. As you draw level with the footbridge that we mentioned earlier, look out for a house up ahead on the right. Just before reaching the house, there's a track heading downhill on the right before swinging further to the right and aiming for the river.
In fact, this is an old ford over the Tweed. I've used it before and it's an option if the river isn't in flood and you don't mind getting wet feet. The alternative is to head along the riverbank and cross by the bridge to pick up the outward route back to the start.
john b, galashiels
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