Sunny autumn rambles bordering on sublime
Duncanrig Ramblers travelled towards Melrose for two walks on a lovely autumnal day.
The high walk was a traverse of the Eildon Hills from Bowdenfoot in the south west to Tweedbank in the north.
Since it was a lovely clear day the group had wonderful views of the ever-changing panorama of the Borders landscape.
After the northern of the summits, the group tracked downhill and had a relaxing ramble along the River Tweed via Newstead.
The triple peaks of the Eildon Hills are the most distinctive single landmark in the Scottish Borders.
In the 1st century, the Roman army built the massive fort of Trimontium, named after the three peaks, at the foot of the hill on the bank of the River Tweed.
There is some evidence that prehistoric peoples regarded the Eildon Hills as a holy place and scholars believe they may have been a place of ceremonial gatherings.
There are several holy springs around the base of the hills, now dedicated to Christian saints, but probably originally sacred to Celtic deities.
Newstead is reputedly the oldest continually-inhabited settlement in Scotland. Buildings were inhabited by the locals who provided for the needs of the soldiers when the Romans were there, and the people who remained when the Romans went back south continued to live there.
The alternate walk started at Melrose and followed a section of St Cuthbert’s Way from the town to Mertoun Bridge.
The group had a steady rise out of Melrose and passed between the Eildon Hills before heading downhill into the historic village of Bowden and following the path to St Boswells and then a nice stroll beside the River Tweed to the Mertoun Bridge.
In the 7th century, Northumbria was ruled by the pagan leader Oswald who, upon converting to Christianity, established, with the help of St Aidan, a monastery at Lindisfarne.
Under his leadership a monastery was built at Old Melrose.
One of the monks from this new religious centre was Boisil and it was he who gave his name to the village and parish of Saint Boswells.
It is suggested that some of the dwellings were on the flat haugh below Benrig – a good site but prone to flooding – which may explain why they eventually moved to the higher ground at Lessudden (the place of Aidan) and the present site of St Boswells.
Mertoun Bridge was built after an Act of Parliament authorised the building of a bridge was passed in 1837. It was designed by James Slight of Edinburgh.
Although the original design was for a bridge built entirely of stone, it was eventually built with stone piers and wooden arches but with sufficiently strong piers and abutments to allow stone arches to be used in the future.
A flood in September 1839 washed away all the wooden parts. It was rebuilt between 1839 and 1841 by William Smith of Montrose, with the piers raised by two feet compared with the original design.
The stone arches were added in 1887 and the bridge is a Category B listed building.
Both groups then enjoyed their social hour in Melrose.
The next walk is to Glen Ogle this Sunday. Check out www. duncanrig.com for details on all club activities, visitors welcome.
Scenic treks Duncanrig Ramblers by the River Tweed, top, and the high group at Eildon Hill summit, above