John Buchan Way

Helen Rose Hill Diary November 2005

Photo: John Buchan Way 1. In the depths of winter, I am going to give you some food for thought on Scottish culture. In Scotland, we are not so good at promoting our rich literary heritage so I shall make a small contribution in this article. If I mention the film, the Thirty Nine Steps, you will have heard of it but do you know who wrote it? It was none other than John Buchan who was born in Scotland in 1875 and lived part of his early life in the Borders. He was also a member of the British Parliament and a Governor General of Canada. Members of his family still have strong links in and around Peebles and the walk from Peebles to Broughton has been named after John Buchan. His Mother was born in Broughton.

The walk from Broughton to Peebles is 13 miles long and passes through lovely soft countryside. It is waymarked in both directions and we did the walk from Broughton to Peebles. Stephen organised it as part of the monthly bus programme with the Glasgow HF Outdoor Club. The bus left us at Broughton and picked us up later in the day at Peebles but without transport at the end, the walk can be halved returning to the starting point but this would require two separate days walking to complete the route. The route follows long established hill tracks through the countryside of Peebleshire. At some later date it is intended to incorporate the route as a spur of the E2 European long distance footpath through Britain and Ireland.

Photo: John Buchan Way 2. From Broughton, we walked from the John Buchan Centre along a good track and soon reached Stobo Hopehead, one of the remotest houses in the Borders. Onwards to the top of a rise of Broughton Heights. On the walk we passed through pine forests and although we had started out in the rain, it was now dry for the rest of the walk. We noticed that the track ran along below Easton Burn which if the water level had been higher would have flooded the track. We came to Stobo Kirk where a stained glass window depicts the legendary magician Merlin being baptised by St Mungo. After Stobo, we crossed the River Tweed which I consider to be one of the most beautiful rivers in Scotland. I have previously written about it in January 2001 on St Cuthbert?s Way.

On the second section of the walk we passed Cademuir Hill noted for it?s two impressive forts with one fort extending to two hectares. Alas, there is little now to see of these forts from prehistoric times. Near Cademuir Farm there is a fine pine plantation. The area is mainly farming country and the landscape is so much softer that the countryside we are used to seeing in Munro bagging in the Highlands.

We reached Peebles before dark and quickly sought out the local Hostelries for a refreshment. I am ashamed to say it was my first visit to Peebles although it is only about a one and a half hour drive from Glasgow. It is a delightful town with the River Tweed running through it. Peebles was already a Royal Burgh by the time of King David in the twelfth century.

If you wish more information on John Buchan, the website is John Buchan Society

Coming attractions; a walk in Hong Kong, Cairngorms again and Arran.

Contact me at [email protected]

Thanks to Frances Rickus for the photos