Greenlaw Circular Walk
Blackadder and a hillfort
This splendid Greenlaw circular walk is the first walk we have done from Robbie Porteous' "Scottish Borders 40 favourite walks" book - a very welcome Christmas gift from my sister.
Of course, in true Sam and Peter style we didn't follow the exact route as described, as you will find out later.
We set out on a bright but cold February day, parking in Greenlaw and walking through the surprisingly large caravan site. We re-visited on April 29th in glorious sunshine.
The site is named after the River Blackadder that dissects the holiday park - I suspect that the very name has given it some very good publicity over the years! The walk takes you down the central drive of the park and out through a gate into some woodland. It is an easy route to navigate for most of the way as you basically follow the river upstream.
Despite the ease of navigation, the book desribes this as a "short but adventurous walk". It is not long before you see why: the route is mainly on single sheep tracks, some of it stony, some of it clinging to the edge of the river and quite a lot susceptible to being underwater. Luckily for us it has been a few weeks, so no flooding and not a lot of mud.
The steep sided valley, known as Greenlaw Dean is spectacular, with steep sides and a flat bottom, with a meandering river. If I remember my 'A' level geography correctly this makes it a classic glaciated valley. It certainly felt glacial when we walked up it in about 5 degrees Centigrade and the howling down the valley into our faces. The steep sides meant that the low winter sun didn't really penetrate the valley, exacerbating the cold. This was why we changed route and did the loop at the head of the valley in reverse to the guide. This meant that we went uphill to benefit from the sun as we walked north-west and as we returned home in the valley bottom we had the wind behind us.
Instead of going on to Deil's Neuk before we went uphill we climbed upwards at the first cut in the embankment, following the path along the top of the embankment. This gave some stunning views of the valley and the hills beyond. The gorse was flowering in profusion - I know it does flower all year round, but I wonder whether the mild winter has meant is is more spectacular than normal.
When the plantation along the top of the embankment opens out you need to turn right up a woodland ride. Before we did this we stopped in the "stand" of Scots Pines mentioned in the book for our lunch. Since the storms of this winter it would better be described as a "fall" as practically every tree had been blown over. It was a good place for lunch though, with the fallen trees providing both shelter and logs to sit on.
Walk up the ride, looking at the hoof marks and the horse jumps in the fences riding is a popular activity up here. Then turn right at the first gateway down another ride and then across the field and through the ride at the other side. As you walk down the ride a splendid view opens out.
Earthworks and Deil's Neuk
Go through the gate opposite and turn left, enjoying the views of the confluence of Fangrist Burn and Blackadder Water. The earthworks above this junction are an iron age hillfort, using the two rivers as protection from the north and west. After the earthworks descend the steep cut down towards the rivers - this is Deil's Neuk. At the bottom is a sun trap and a possible wild swim spot, so no doubt we will be back when it is warmer. Turn left and follow the Blackadder downstream - the path here is very narrow and the soft sedimentary rock and soil is eroding into the river, so you have to be quite sure-footed. Now just keep following the river back to the start. Look out for buzzards and ravens overhead and herons flying up from the water.
We loved this circular walk from Greenlaw and look forward to seeing what it looks like in the summer. We re-visited on April 29th in glorious sunshine.
Distance: 7 km
Difficulty: Medium (steep hill)
Terrain: Mostly single track.
We returned to Greenlaw Dean for a spring walk on the 29th April. Although the views on the walk were not much different, the gorse was still in bloom and most of the trees were still fairly bare, the temperature was warmer and the bird song much richer. The warmth meant that the gorse was giving off its beautiful coconut aroma and I decided it was warm enough to don the swimming costume for the first time in 2022. I had a lovely paddle around whilst we had a brew stop at De’ils neuk and later had a brief dip beneath one of the footbridges.
There was plenty of birdsong, but the wildlife highlights were a toad close to the caravan site and a bee fly on a warm sandy bank where there was plenty of activity from either solitary bees or wasps. In the clearing among the trees we surprised a brown hare, even seeing the flattened grass where it had been hiding.
The colourscape was yellow and green – not only the gorse but celandines were forming a carpet over most of the valley bottom and kingcups were just coming out in the woodland close to Greenlaw.