Day 4 Yair to Traquair – about 9 miles

Another early breakfast set me up for a taxi ride round the hill to Yair and a steady climb through the forest to the Three Brethren. These three stone cairns stand close together, each in its own town where three boundaries meet.


The Three Brethren

The sun shone brightly as I loped along the gently undulating path to Minch Moor, enjoying distant views of rounded summits. More and more forestry appeared below my ridge of grass and heather, and I passed through a large area of timber harvesting just before the final climb. Throughout my walk, I never felt hemmed in by the conifers. Always there seemed to be open spaces, the result of harvesting or planting patterns, and the deer seemed happy enough there too.


The old drove road from The Three Brethren towards Minch Moor

I was following the line of an ancient road that had been used by cattle drovers, armies and monks for many centuries. Whether they appreciated the aesthetics of the uplands is questionable, but I derived great pleasure from the views, the fresh breeze and the dry conditions underfoot.


Looking north from the Minch Moor drove road

Safe passage across these moors has never been guaranteed, and travellers from Traquair used to leave votive offerings of cheese at the Cheese Well in the belief that the spirits would be grateful enough to provide protection over the high ground. I usually put coins in Mountain Rescue tins.

The wind blew more strongly as the path rose to Minch Moor, where I diverted to climb to the viewpoint. A group of mountain bikers were recovering from their breathless climb, and we enjoyed the superb panorama together for a few moments before I returned to my journey and they swooped down their separate route through the forests towards Innerleithen. Mountain biking is very popular in this area, even though it seems to consist of a ghastly climb, a brief recovery period on a cold summit, then a steep descent that jolts the bones and joints. Not a bit like hiking, then!

Weather-beaten signposts help the traveller complete the high-level traverse, descending past Point of Resolution, a sculpture in living materials. The aspiration is to make sculptures in the landscape along the 212 miles of the SUW. I don’t recall seeing any other examples, but on the whole I feel kindly disposed towards the idea,. The sculptures would create variety where little exists – I’m thinking of the forests – and they would be more stimulating than the many wind farms. For more information, see www.growingsculpture.com


On the Minch Moor Drove Road


At Point of Resolution above Innerleithen

The SUW drops steeply out of the forests with views over the trees that shelter Traquair House.
There is a last flash of blue from the River Tweed. My route will swing left to head south west towards St Mary’s Loch, but first a visit to Traquair House, dinner at Innerleithen, and sleep.

Traquair village has a couple of B&Bs and a phone box. Innerleithen offers most facilities.


The Tweed Valley from the descent towards Traquair


Traquair House, said to be the oldest continuously inhabited dwelling in Scotland

Traquair House is a fascinating place for those with an interest in old buildings. It also delivers a sombre message, illustrating the misfortunes of those who steadfastly held to their Catholicism and supported the Stuart claim to the throne. Excluded from office, they were forced to manage on reduced means and progressively sell pieces of their land. Unable to fund the fashionable modernisations of Victorian times, the owners held onto fascinating Jacobite icons and kept the house unchanged, which is to our benefit as twenty-first-century visitors. If you don’t have to rush to Cockburnspath or Portpatrick, check the opening days and times. They have a micro-brewery and beer shop as well as the usual catering arrangements.

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