74. Yair Bridge
A short but quite demanding route. The hard work is more than adequately rewarded by the superb setting and views from the high point at over 300m.
Galashiels has no shortage of shops, pubs and other facilities. The old rail line that ran to Edinburgh is now a cycle route and is known locally as the 'Black Path' because of its tarred surface. The cycleway runs from just northeast of the town centre right through the middle - but with one short detour - and then for about five miles or so to just beyond Melrose.
You need to locate the Black Path because it's that route that we take out of the town. It passes under the A7 at (490 366) by the obvious brickwork that holds up the banking at that point. It follows along the base of the brick wall as far as the Abbotsford Hotel where there's a detour along the road behind the hotel which then goes right at a mini roundabout towards the new ASDA store. This is Currie Road and there's a car park along here past the supermarket on the right at (496 359). You can pick up the cycle route here as it runs alongside the river through the trees.
After about a mile there are some playing fields before the track crosses a minor road. Turn right here though, to follow the road downhill to a roundabout almost underneath the prominent road bridge over the Tweed. Take the road - marked as a dead end - along the river. At this point it's actually part of the Tweed Cycle Route and also the Southern Upland Way. Stay with the cycle route as it skirts the hillside before dropping down to the river again at Yair Bridge.
The route over the hill back to Galashiels is actually part of the Southern Upland Way. From Yair Bridge it takes the waymarked track through Fairnilee farm. It gets fairly steep but is rideable right up to where it comes out of trees onto open hillside with the cottage of Calfshaw down to the right. The section from here up the steep grassy slope and through the gate is clearly one to push, but it is quite short.
Follow alongside the wall to go through another gate. Look for a marker post ahead and slightly to the left on the skyline. When you reach the marker post there's an optional detour up to the summit of this hill in some trees up to the right. You could leave your bike or take it with you part of the way at least. The clump of trees at the top is quite striking and the views from the top make it all worth the effort.
Rejoin the grassy path as it heads downwards. There are several stiles to cross on the way. The Southern Upland Way used to join the Hollybush Road just where it reaches the forested area and it's certainly possible to do that if you cross another stile and go just a few yards up the track beside the stone wall. The road leads quickly downhill to the town.
The 'official' path has now been re-routed, though, and leads over to the left and down through a wooded area called the 'Policies' to come out by the swimming pool. From there it's just a short way back to your start point.
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