Earlston Circular - a mixture of new and familiar

So, I have been a bit quiet on the blog lately, because we have moved house, re-locating to Coldstream in the Scottish Borders. Coldstream is a lovely town on the borders between in England and Scotland. It is excellent for walking, with various easily accessible routes from the town as well as easy access to the lovely Berwickshire coast and the Cheviot Hills, so I am really looking forward to sharing this with you in due course.

But I have to be honest, after the sheer beauty of living near the Trossachs and despite seeing an otter (twice) in the river Tweed, I haven’t really been inspired to write about the area until today. The weather hasn’t helped: our first 48 hours here were incessant rain – both the Tweed and the Leet flooded covering Tweed Green and Penitent’s Walk; this was followed a month later by Storm Arwen, which wrought havoc through the woodland, effectively barricading many of the routes we had just begun to explore. When, or even if, some of these routes will open up is unknown, although I think because the Scottish Borders Council has invested in walking routes across the region they will want to open them up again before next tourist season.

Earlston Circular Walk

What was different about today? Well first it was a stunning clear, frosty, winter’s day and second we were heading over to Earlston to meet a friend and decided to take the opportunity to go for a walk round there. We lived in Earlston for 10 years and as we drove over it looked beautiful – a temperature inversion was just clearing, with the Black Hill and The Eildons towering up through swirls of mist. It felt like coming home. Very little appeared to have changed in the twenty years since we left, but one thing that was new was the Earlston Circular Walk, part of the aforesaid investment in footpaths from the council.

The Route

I will not share the map on the blog as you can download the council’s brochure describing the walk in detail here. A very good brochure it is too. From the centre of Earlston go back to the A68 and turn right, then follow Huntshaw Road as it forks right up the hill. Keep going straight up the hill, ignoring turnings into the houses. You will soon be on a quiet road with fields of horses to your right. The route is well marked, both with signposts and with yellow arrows, so you shouldn’t lose your way. The hedges were full of birds as we walked along, mainly blue tits, greatl tits and chaffinches.

It is worth looking behind you as you get to the brow of the hill as you get a really lovely view across to the Black Hill. After about 500m on this quiet road there is a signpost to the left which you follow – unbelievably even though we lived 10 years in Earlston we had never gone down this track. I am hoping it was because this route wasn’t really opened up then, but it could be just that we didn’t do so much exploring when we had 9 to 5 jobs and children. Anyway, whatever the reason it is now a very fine route and we are pleased to have found it.

You follow this farm track down towards a woodland and then go through two kissing gates into the woods. The path in the woods wasn’t particularly clear, partly due to there being a lot of leaves and partly because there appeared to be some storm damaged branches to avoid. However, we didn’t have too much problem finding the route down through the trees until we met a waymarked woodland track. This track followed the contour through the plantation for some time and was very pleasant with plenty to look out for – lichens are always fun to spot in the winter and there were still some fungi evident in places. It also gave some splendid views across the valley and the first glimpse of the River Leader.

Down to the River Leader

It was a bit of simple navigation to follow the path down to the A68, although there were some fallen trees which we had to clamber over or squeeze under to keep to the route. Once you get to the main road you need to cross – it was very quiet today so it was no problem – and then climb over the crash barrier at the other side to pick up a path parallel to the road. Luckily this was only a very short section as it was littered with the usual detritus that you see next to main roads. You soon come across steps going downwards through the trees and away from the road which takes you into a lovely grass field next to the River Leader. When we arrived the sun was beating down on the field and we had an exceptionally lovely lunch break over-looking the river and watching a feeding dipper.

Once we re-started we kept to the banks of the river until we reached some cottages. We had lost the arrows at this point as we should have gone more diagonally across the field. However it was very easy to skirt round three sides of the cottages and pick up the path again. The path now took us over a suspension bridge and up through another woodland, in the shade it felt quite chilly. Following the path up the steps we were lucky enough to see a roe deer before the path flattened out at the top of the hill. We didn’t take the brief detour down to the left, but kept going straight on the main path, which eventually curved right around a low wall before taking us out onto a country lane.

Down Memory Lane

Following the waymarkers left there was a short bit of walking on this road before another left turn past a farm. You just need to follow this road past the cottages (lots of birds including a great-spotted woodpecker) until you arrive at another suspension bridge over the Leader. This path was one we had walked when we lived in Earlston, indeed I think we had picnics and paddled in the river here when the children were small. It was now a simple bit of navigation to follow the road back into the town, with some more good views of the Black Hill.

Summary: this was a lovely walk on a lovely day. It allowed us to discover somewhere new in an area that we actually know quite well. I am sure that we will be back to enjoy the Earlston Circular Walk again.

The Black Hil - Earlston
Looking back to the Black Hill
view across the River leader - Earlston Circular
First glimpse of the Leader
A lovely place for lunch
A lovely place for lunch
Looking up river from the suspension bridge
Looking up river from the suspension bridge
View of the Black Hill from the return route
View of the Black Hill from the return route


Distance:          4.5 miles

Difficulty:         Medium

Terrain             Off road - muddy

Walking boots recommended


  • chaffinch
  • gorse flower
  • roe deer
  • dipper
  • great spotted woodpecker
  • siskin


  1. Susi on December 18, 2021 at 8:57 am

    Once again to walk vicariously with you. To imagine the feelings of getting a bit lost and using that intuitive navigation to get back on track.
    You write so well Sam. Such fun
    Wishing you a Happy Christmastime and looking forward to more walks in 2022 z

    • Sam on December 18, 2021 at 12:16 pm

      Thanks Susi, I love vicarious walking! Maybe we can do an in-person walk together sometime?

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