THE WAVERLEY LINE

This part of the Waverley Line was once the Border Union Railway that ran south from Edinburgh in Scotland through Midlothian and the Scottish Borders to Carlisle in England.  The final section opened in 1862, it was named the Waverley route after the novel by Sir Walter Scott.  The line closed to passengers in 1969, but reconstruction work of the Edinburgh-Galashiels-Tweedbank section began in 2011 and is now open.

The part I walked is now very overgrown and at times non-existent, passing through farms and woodland. However it acts as a substitute path following the border at this section which is running down the middle of rivers and burns. I was able to walk through Riddings Junction, the main station building and the stationmaster’s house survives and the whole site is now part of Riddings Farm.

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Hermitage Castle

A few miles north of the border, close to Newcastleton is a vast and eerie ruin of the 14th and 15th centuries. Hermitage is associated with the de Soulis, the Douglases and Mary Queen of Scots. Its turbulent history has led to it being described as ‘the guardhouse of the bloodiest valley in Britain’. Partly restored in the 19th century, the castle was originally built by Lord de Soules in the 1240s. For most of its existence, the castle was the key to controlling the Scottish Middle March.

The castle also has a romantic past, with the Mary of Queen of Scots visiting her secret lover, the 4th Earl of Bothwell here when he was injured and on his sickbed. Sir Walter Scott was also fond of this castle and had himself painted with it in the background.

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Sharron, Hermitage Guide

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Sketches from Logan Mack’s Borderline book showing the transformation of the Castle in the 19th Century.

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Castle interior

Carter Bar to the Trouting

The next part of the border walk was hard going, taking me through very rough, tussocky heather and peat bogs. Fortunately there was a mini heatwave so I enjoyed some amazing views. From here it’s easy to see the difference in geology and the more fertile ground of the Scottish side as the green hills sweep across the horizon towards Jedburgh and Kelso.

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View from Catcleuch Shin into Scotland

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Cotton grass in a freshly felled forest

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Confusing split in the border fence which then disappears altogether

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Dried up tributary of the Bateinghope Burn crosses the border

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Carter Fell Cairn

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Large pond on the Scottish side of Carter Fell

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Stones covering Disused mine shafts, Carter Fell

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Route: Carter Bar to The Trouting