11 Apr 2010

A walk in the hills around Innerleithen

I considered naming this post “I love the number 62 bus,” but thought it might be confusing. It’s true - I do love the number 62 bus, because it gives car-less Edinburgh dwellers like me access to the vast beauty of the Scottish borders. Why, if I wanted to I could take the 62 from Edinburgh all the way to Melrose to see the famous Melrose Abbey.

I didn’t go to Melrose this time, as I had things to see and appointments to keep in Innerleithen in Peeblesshire. Innerleithen spent many years as a thriving textile and spa town, with people travelling great distances to “take the waters” at St. Ronan’s Well. The well still exists however the museum hours are restricted on weekends (open from 2-5) and I wasn’t able to stop in for a sample.

I wandered the high street, then turned to look at the striking parish church before heading up the hill beside the well. Looking at the hills surrounding the town, I was determined to get up high enough in order to enjoy the views and bask in the spring sunshine.

And hike I did. Past a moss-covered stone wall and up until I could see down into the valley over to nearby Galashiels.
I can only imagine what I looked like, red-faced from the exertion and open-mouthed in awe, as every corner or crest of a hill inched back the blinds on a vast panorama.

Snaking stone walls divided the fields, making the world below look like a fantastical jigsaw puzzle. Along one wall were groups of daffodils, strong and bright as they opened wide towards the sun and were blanketed by the warmth of the stones behind them.
The higher I walked, the more the sounds of the human world fell away. Birdsong circled the hills around me, while the bleats of sheep floated up from the farms below. High above, air traffic moved soundlessly, leaving criss-crossing jet streams in the almost cloudless sky. Twice I looked up to see the Scottish Saltire glowing down on me like a sacred emblem.
In all I hiked for about two hours until I got to the foot of this rocky monstrosity:
Time was not on my side, and seeing that there were lambs in the field below me I decided to head straight down the steep hill towards them. Twenty minutes of slow thumping down the hill made my legs turn to rubber and my knees ache.
The good news is I did find some lambs to photograph, but that will have to wait for the next post.

Want to see where I was? Click on the photo below to make it bigger and I shall wave to you.
Innerleithen is known for being one of the best areas in Scotland for cycling, but it’s also an unforgettable place for a stroll and well worth a visit if you’re looking for somewhere that is accessible but still offers that feeling of being away from it all.

So now that we’ve done the hard work, we can just have a seat and relax:

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