First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
The copper-coloured River Teviot runs curving past the tall old mills of Hawick, chasing itself down sloping weirs and sluicing through boulder shallows. The power of river water brought industry to Hawick long before steam, in the manufacture of woollen garments famous for their fine texture.
These days the past glories of the sprawling Teviotdale town are spelt out in fine old sandstone public buildings, great blocks of former mills and the beautifully laid out Wilton Lodge Park beside the river. If the strollers we met among the lawns and flowerbeds looked a little jaded, they could blame it on the Common Riding, only just finished, an ancient summer festival in which any local capable of keeping their saddle joins the Callants and other horseback revellers in beating the bounds of the town at the canter, then celebrating madly.
We climbed steps by a gushing waterfall, and took to the old drove road of Whitehaugh Lane that climbed by steady stages northward into a high green upland. Rain showers and sun splashes hunted each other across a landscape of hummocky little hills striped by stone walls, abruptly rising and falling on either hand.
At Whitehaugh we crossed the Cala Burn chuckling among mossy boulders. In the higher pastures sheep fastidiously selected their mouthfuls of grass among sedges, and great black and brown slabs of cattle stood like stone carvings on the skyline, silhouetted against bosomy silver clouds that battled it out with emergent patches of blue sky.
At the top of the lane the path swung east and made off across a wide moor, rough and tussocky among heather tufts and boggy patches, dotted with pink shell-shaped petals of lousewort and the blue flowers of insectivorous butterwort held aloft on black stalks as slender as hairs.
The Borders Abbeys Way brought us home downhill, a winding lane with a most sensational view ahead of the far off Cheviots spread across the English Border in a series of waves of green, purple and ochre. A sight to make a galloping Callant draw rein and grin with pride.
How hard is it? 9 miles; easy; lanes and upland paths
Start: Common Haugh car park, Hawick TD9 7AN (OS ref NT500146)
Getting there: Bus 20 (Kelso-Hawick)
Road: A7 from Carlisle; A698 (Kelso); A68, A6068 (Newcastle)
Walk (OS Explorer 331): Left along Victoria Road. In 200m into Wilton Lodge Park (‘Riverside Path’). In 400m, right by war memorial (493145, ‘path to waterfall’). Up steps to road (492146); left. At T-junction, left (‘Romans & Reivers Route’). In 150m, right up Whitehaugh Road (490145). In 1¾ miles, cross bridge by ‘Whitfield & Crurie’ sign (476165); in 100m, left (blue arrow/BA, ‘Hawick Circular Riding Route’/HCRR, ‘Cross Borders Drove Road’/CBDR) up Whitehaughmoor drive.
In 40m, fork right (BA, CBDR). In ¾ mile through gate (BA, 470176, HCRR); on beside fence; in 250m, right through gate (469179, BA, HCRR). Follow grassy track east across moor. In 1 mile, on Hayside, approaching Drinkstone Hill trig pillar, BA on waymark post points left (480183), but keep ahead down to gate. Half right across field; left along plantation edge to gate in wall (485183), don’t go through, but bear left along wall to gate (486184) to turn right along Borders Abbeys Way.
In 2 miles, fork right at gate of St Andrew’s (496161); in 250m, just before right bend, left (493159) on concrete track to electricity substation. Right (kissing gate, yellow arrow, ‘Hawick Paths’/HP) along substation fence, then follow HP waymarks past Kippilaw Moss (492155), over saddle between hills, down to cross Dean Burn (488150), up to road (486148). Left to Hawick.
Lunch: Santa Marina restaurant, Teviot Crescent, Hawick TD9 9RE (01450-378773, santamarinarestaurant.co.uk)
Accommodation: The Bank Guesthouse, 12 High St, Hawick TD9 9EH (01450-363760, thebankno12highst.com) – cheerful, full of character.