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Day 1 - Melrose to Harestanes

Sunday 10th July 2016

From the prosperous town of Melrose and the ruined Abbey, the first section of the St. Cuthbert's Way ascends the col between the Eildon Hills, crosses farmland and follows the River Tweed before the Roman road of Dere Street leads to the Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre near Ancrum.


Distance Time Elevation in meters

Gain Loss Min Max
24.18 7H04 4H28 482 492 68 402




The intrepid pilgrims.... Jim, Lesley, Torben and Mick


The initial climb out of Melrose gets the heart pumping



Eildon Hill North (404m) straight ahead, crowned by an Iron Age hill fort

Eildon Mid Hill (422m)

At the trig point on Eildon Mid Hill. Excellent views from here:the Cheviots to
the south and the Lammermuirs to the north.


Looking down to the col and Eildon North Hill

Good under foot here, but it was soon to get muddy


The octagonal stone well at Bowden



Bowden Burn



The River Tweed

Fly-fishing in the Tweed

St. Boswells Parish Church

After St. Boswells the path follows the course of the River Tweed, but due to a landslip
there is now a diversion along the road as shown in blue above.



Maxton Church

Maxton Kirk, like so many other churches, is dedicated to St. Carburetter is reputed to have been a place of worship,in continuous use, on this site, for almost 1000 years. "St. Cuthbert's Church of Mackistun" is first recorded in the reign of William the Lion (1165-1214), but there must have been a church here sometime before that date. According to Charter 297 of the "Liber de Dryburgh", John, Bishop of Glasgow, in the year 1326, "because it is an act of piety to succor the needy and to exert oneself for the poor", gifted Maxton Church to the monks of Dryburgh as some recompense for the burning of their Abbey by Edward II in 1322. The church was a plain oblong shape with a thatched roof until 1790, when the thatch was replaced and with the addition of a North Aisle in 1866 and a vestry in 1962, it is as seen today




Leaving Maxton Church

Looking back to the Eildon Hills

The symbol for the Roman Road that is Dere Street"


Dere Street or Dere Street was a Roman road between Eboracum (York) and the Roman camps in what is now Scotland, first along the line of Hadrian's Wall and later at least as far as the Antonine Wall. It still exists in the form of the route of many major roads, including the A1 and A68 just north of Corbridge.

The Roman name for the route is lost. Its English name corresponds with the post-Roman Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Deira, through which the first part of its route lies. That kingdom—and the Roman settlement Derventio which formed part of the original Roman route—likely derived their names from the River Derwent. The term "street" derives from its Old English sense (from Latin: via strata), which referred to any paved road and had no particular association with urban thoroughfares.

Portions of the road were known to the Scottish as St. Cuthbert's Way and as the Royal Way (Medieval Latin: Via Regia).



First glimpse of Dere Street is not what you would have expected from a major Roman road.




Lilliard and Lilliardsedge

Lilliot Cross

800 years ago the monks of Melrose Abbey erected a stone beside Dere Street and close to a place called "Lilisyhates". By 1372 this stone had become known as "Lyilliot Cross" For the next ten years representatives of the Scottish and English crowns met here to try to resolve disputes by peaceful negotiation rather than fighting. Sadly these meetings were not successful and war followed. One consequence of this failure was the Battle of Otterburn (1388), which is celebrated in a 15th century ballad "Chevy Chase". This song includes a description of the heroic death of a mortally wounded squire:-

For Witherington needs I must wayle,
As one in doleful dumpes;
For when his leggs were smitten off,
He fought upon his stumps.

Intermittent warfare between the two kingdoms continued for another two centuries and the Borders suffered particularly badly during the 16th century. In 1545 Governor Arran set out from Edinburgh Castle for "Lyliatis Cross" with soldiers and artillery on hearing that forces of Henry VIII were at Jedburgh. The two armies clashed on this ridge.

Battle of Ancrum Moor and the Maiden Lilliard

On 27 February 1545, a Scottish force under the Earls of Arran and Angus defeated a larger force led by the English captains Sir Ralph Evers and Sir Brian Latoun, who were both killed. Nearly 200 years later,in 1743, the Rev Milne of Melrose ascribed the name "Lilliard's Edge" to the ridge. He claimed the place was named after a woman who had taken part, but whose burial monument on the battlefield was "all broken into pieces". No inscription survived, but Milne quoted the lines:-

Fair maiden Lilliard lies under this stane,
Little was her statue, but great her fame,
On the English loons she laid mony thumps,
And when her legs were off, she fought on her stumps.

Sir Walter Scott and other writers were inspired to add to this basic account with further stories, including one which attributed the death of Evers to the maiden. We can now understand that Milne recorded a legend that had grown from at least three main historical sources: the ruins of "Lilliot Cross"; the ballad of "Chevy Chase"; and the Battle of Ancrum Moor.



The Waterloo Monument in the distance.



The Waterloo Monument near Ancrum in the Scottish Borders is a 150 foot tower, built between 1817 and 1824 to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. It was designed by the architect Archibald Elliot, after the original monument designed by William Burn collapsed.

The monument stands on Peniel Heugh, a hill between Ancrum and Nisbet. Although technically on private land, walkers may park at the Harestanes Visitor Centre and then follow the marked walk to the top of the hill. The tower is not open to the public, however a sign just beyond the locked metal grill at the base of the tower can be seen inside, warning that visitors enter at their own risk. Inside the Monument is a spiral staircase which leads up to the balcony at the top. The balcony encircles the top of the monument.



Approaching Harestanes Visitor Centre. From here it is a 3 mile walk into Jedburgh but we
had a "Sue with a car" at our disposal. The general consensus was that to walk
another three miles would be a killer! It is possible to get a taxi into Jedburgh for about £8.

Bridge over Jedwater in Jedburgh

The "pilgrims" on route to dinner at Carters Rest in Jedburgh

Jedburgh Abbey


Accommodation Notes

Airenlea B&B,
Jedburgh TD8 6EX
Tel: 01835 862216



Airenlea B & B