Wallace Statue and St Boswells Circular
The 10th April is our wedding anniversary so what better way to celebrate this auspicious occasion than enjoying good weather in the Scottish Borders with some friends. We chose a St Boswells circular route, taking in some local landmarks and getting us back in time for lunch at Mainstreet Trading. (I might have accidently bought some new books too!)
This was another walk I adapted from one suggested on the Scottish Borders Council website. We started the walk from outside the Trading Company, however the better place to start is from the bus station next to Jenny Moore’s Road, closer to the A68.
St Cuthbert's Way
Opposite the bus station is Hamilton Road and you need to follow that road about 100 metres, turn right on to the footpath and then follow the St Cuthbert’s Way markers down through a woody glade. The banks were covered in garlic, both the non-native few-flowered garlic and our native wild garlic, ramsoms. The few-flowered garlic was just exploding into flower (they always remind me of white fireworks) whereas the broader leaved ramsoms will probably be another month before its tighter flowers are in full bloom. Sadly the invasive variety is doing very well in the Scottish Borders and could well be impacting on native plants, particularly bluebells and primroses.
Follow the obvious and well-maintained path down towards the river Tweed. There is a short part that is quite rocky, but that is the most difficult part of the walk. Enjoy good views across the river with glimpses of the ruined Dryburgh Abbey through the trees.
Follow the river until you get to the Dryburgh suspension bridge, The current bridge is 150 years old and is built on the site of the first suspension bridge in the UK dating back to 1818.
This is your first opportunity to see the William Wallace Statue on the hill top and you can’t miss the Temple of Muses ahead of you. The Temple of Muses is well worth a look and is dedicated to locally born poet James Thomson, now most famous as the writer of the lyrics to “Rule, Britannia!” The modern statues of the Four Seasons by Siobhan O’Hehir were installed in 2002 and replaced the original missing centrepiece.
Once over the bridge bear right along the lane until you come to the main road, where you should turn left. This being a Borders ‘main’ road it is fairly quiet, so the brief time you are on it should not be a problem. As you start going up the road you will have some excellent views of the volcanic Eildon Hills to the west. Not far up the road there is a sign to the Wallace Statue on the left which you should follow. This takes you up through a lovely beach woodland and the path was fringed with primroses when we walked it.
It's not far until you come to the monument, which is commanding to say the least, standing over 7 metres tall on top of a plinth. He is dressed in ancient Scottish armour and holding a huge sword and shield. Although the sculpture, which is over 200 years old, is based on a portrait of Wallace, to me it looked like he was sculpted to look like a Greek God, particularly as the dragon carved on his helmet made it look like it was adorned with wings.
As the statue is close to Scott’s View and easily accessible from the top, this is quite a tourist attraction. Visitors have been overheard to say “he doesn’t look much like Mel Gibson.”
To continue the walk keep to the path at the bottom of the statue and continue through the woods until you come to a stile (very dog unfriendly) into a field and then turn left down the fence side. We kept going downhill through two large new gates and then to the bottom of the hill as per the route instructions and the map.
Unfortunately the gate here was padlocked – hopefully only temporarily as the field was full of lambs. The map shows the path going below the wood and then turning right to join the track and this route is what I have shown on the walk map. To avoid the lambs we climbed a wall and went back up the hill picking up the track through the woods higher up. However you get to this fisherman's track you need to follow it downhill until you reach the River.
Once at the river turn left and follow it all the way back to the Suspension Bridge and re-trace the route back to complete this St Boswells circular route.
This is a beautiful stretch of the river with places for picnics and paddling on a warm day. You will be sharing the space with the fishermen, so give them a wide berth.
This is really good walk with plenty of historical interest. If you are passing through on your way North this is an excellent walk to give you a flavour of the central Borders.
Distance: 7.75 km
- wild garlic
- blackthorn blossom