St Cuthbert’s Way: Part 2 – Southern Upland Way

This is part 2 of useful information gleaned from our extended 110 mile St Cuthbert’s Way walk from Peebles to Lindisfarne in September 2012. Part 1 is here.

At St Mary’s Loch, we picked up the Southern Upland Way for a couple of days. This is a well marked route which we really enjoyed. After a few miles along the loch, there’s a 13km section from Dryhope Tower to Traquair which is quite remote feeling, boggy upland with a bit of forest thrown in. It rained a lot this day so we were very grateful for Pat and Brian Hudson’s hospitality at the Quair View guest house in Traquair, all for a flat £25 pppn with breakfast. We ate that evening at the Traquair Arms Hotel just over a mile away in Innerleithen. There are a lot of pubs and hotels that will happily serve you very average food for £10+ a plate. The Traquair Arms serves very good food for a similar price so treat yourself there instead.

We took a break the next day and went back to Innerleithen. The Whistlestop Cafe is a very good daytime cafe with especially nice soups. Open on Sundays too. The Alpine Bikes shop might help you stock up on energy bars and there’s a good sized Coop opposite. Innerleithen has a few good secondhand book shops and is generally a more interesting place than it had been made out to be.

The next day was a long section of Southern Upland Way from Traquair to Melrose. It starts with about 400m of ascent and then continues along an east-west ridge with fantastic views. Then you drop through forest to the Tweed at Yairbrig (the Airy Fairy B&B is here but we didn’t stop so I can’t comment). So far so fantastic. I wish we’d left the marked way here and followed the Tweed to Melrose. But we continued up and down to Gala Hill above Galashiels. I wish we’d left the marked way here and skirted around Gala Hill before dropping towards Melrose. But we didn’t, we followed the way down into Galashiels and then back up the other side of Gala Hill before arriving at Melrose around 7.30. A long day. But the Old Bank House B&B made up for it – very good accommodation, right on the (quiet) main street and the best breakfast of the whole trip.

We took another break day in Melrose. Although it’s a very tourist oriented town with shops which cater to that, there’s still enough practical stuff to get by. A small Coop, a Spar and a Boots are about the extent of the chains but there are also fishmongers, butchers, bakeries and a good deli – the Country Kitchen – where we stocked up on porridge oats, dried fruit and a few treats. The Bakehouse sells cheap sandwiches and hot snacks. Between Monday and Thursday, the Station Hotel currently serves main courses for £6 with accompanying starters and desserts for £2 each – perfectly reasonable food and keenly priced. There are lots of other places to eat in Melrose including a fish and chip chop and an expensive looking Italian place in the old station – worth visiting the station to walk up onto the platform to watch what is now the town bypass – weird feeling. We chose the Kings Arms Hotel because we were late on the first night and it was still serving – turned out to be nice food.

Next time: The St Cuthberts Way itself

Quair View guest house
Traquair, Innerleithen, Scottish Borders EH44 6PL
Telephone: 01896 830 506
Email: hudson.b@btinternet.com

Traquair Arms Hotel
Innerleithen, Peeblesshire, EH44 6PD
Telephone: 01896 830229
Email: info@traquairarmshotel.co.uk

Alpine Bikes
Neidpath Church Building, Peebles Road, Innerleithen, Borders, EH44 6QX
Telephone: 01896 830880
Email: innerleithen@alpinebikes.co.uk

Old Bank House
27 Buccleuch Street, Melrose TD6 9LB
Telephone: 01896 823712
Email:  info@oldbankhousemelrose.co.uk

Kings Arms Hotel
High Street Melrose TD6 9PB
Telephone: 01896 800335

Station Hotel
26 Market Square, Melrose TD6 9PT
Telephone: 01896 823147
Email:  info@stationhotelmelrose.com