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Galashiels to Innerleithen Back to South of Scotland Way index Peebles to West Linton

Walk Statistics:
Length: 10.8 miles / 17.4 km
Total ascent: 2531 ft / 771 m
Total descent: 2485 ft / 757 m
Estimated time: 4 hrs 24 mins

Brief route description

The route from Innerleithen to Peebles is based on Hamish Brown's original route and, basically, follows a hill ridge to the northwest for some six miles, then runs down a forest track to reach Peebles.

Initially you should aim for Caerlee Hill, immediately to the west of Innerleithen. There are several ways up but Hamish Brown's preferred route goes via St Ronan's Wells. Walk along the town's main street to the northeast as far as the junction immediately before the river bridge. Turn left at the junction, then left again into a minor road, which curves round to the right a little to run more or less northwards. After some three hundred metres take another left turn; this road goes down to St Ronan's Wells at the foot of the hill.

From St Ronan's Wells turn left again and take the track along the foot of the hill. After about 250 metres take a right turn onto a path that climbs the flank of the hill through woodland. You soon reach the far side of the wood to find yourself on the ridge. Caerlee Hill is a little way to the south, is crowned by a TV relay and commands a good view of the town, so it's worth a quick visit. Your main route, however, runs north along the ridge and visits a succession of hills.

The first major summit is Lee Pen, 502 metres high; it, too, has an excellent view of Innerleithen. If my memory serves me correctly there's a reasonable ridge path as far as Lee Pen but as you progress it becomes sketchy, then nonexistent, until you reach the forest track network a handful of miles further on. From Lee Pen the ridge veers to the northwest. Drop down to the col and then take in the short ascent to Lee Burn Head. From here there's an excellent view along part of the Tweed valley to the west.

The ridge turns to the north again. From Lee Burn Head you progress to Mill Rig, then to Black Knowe, the second major summit (522 metres). From here the ridge, and your route, doglegs to the west and then the north again, and you reach the edge of the extensive plantations of Glentress Forest that ascent the hillside to your left. Your next major summit is Black Law, which is 538 metres high and carries a trig pillar. There's a real sense of loneliness out here because there's little in view now except forest to one side and bleak moorland to the other. There's a fairly steep drop to the col of Leithen Door, followed by a fairly steep reascent to Leithen Door Hill. But for the forest to your left this section would feel very much like the Cheviots a few days before.

After a slight dip the ridge ascends to a nameless top, just before which a route appears into the forest to your left. This would afford a quick escape down to Peebles should you wish to cut the walk short. Otherwise, press onwards along the ridge, which veers to the left (west). The forest plantations now start to cloak the eastern slopes you you effectively enter the forest itself. Shortly afterwards you need to turn left and continue to follow the ridge uphill towards the day's high point, Dunslair Heights (a round 600 metres high). A forest track comes up from the left to follow the ridge to the summit, which carries a small cluster of communications masts.

There's an open area beyond the summit, but it's really a wide ride and doesn't actually allow a decent view, which is a great pity. Continue to follow the ridge path beyond the summit until you reach the next col, some six hundred metres distant. At this point you leave the ridge to the left to walk down through the forest towards Peebles. At first you follow a simple path, which descends a spur known as Tower Rig; this path crosses a couple of logging tracks. It runs downhill for some 2 km to reach an outpost of civilisation known as the Shieldgreen Centre. Now it's just a matter of following the Shieldgreen Centre's access track downhill through the forest. After a further mile you leave the forest plantation and come out into the open, and you discover that you are descending the valley of Soonhope Burn, which lays a little way to your right. As you descend you pass a series of somewhat dilapidated shacks. These are actually holiday chalets. The grand edifice of the Peebles Hydro Hotel soon comes into view on the opposite bank of the burn and, a few minutes afterwards, the Soonhope track reaches the main A72 just east of the town.

It just remains now to walk the final mile along the road towards Peebles town centre. There is plenty of accommodation in the town, otherwise there are regular bus services to Edinburgh and Galashiels.

Map: OS 1:25000 Explorer 337 (Peebles & Innerleithen)

Galashiels to Innerleithen Back to South of Scotland Way index Peebles to West Linton

This page last updated 14th December 2010