THERE are many way marked routes across Scotland, giving access to hills, glens, rivers, lochs and coastline. Often it is volunteers who are responsible for them – reopening closed paths and maintaining existing ones.
Earlston, in the Borders, has one of the best networks you could wish for. Miles and miles of routes go up and down the Leader Water and down to the River Tweed. Much credit should go to the Earlston Paths Group – a group of volunteers who created and maintain these paths. One of the routes from Earlston goes up Black Hill, a great viewpoint over the Borders and Southern Uplands. So, on your way up, give thanks to those who make route finding easier.
DISTANCE: 4 1/2 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED: 1,050ft.
TIME: 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
MAP OS: Landranger 74.
PARK: Turn off the A68 to reach the centre of Earlston, where there are plenty of spaces.
IN SUMMARY: Head south from Earlston’s High Street, down Station Road, which begins next to The Swan pub. The road leads out of the town and past a national speed limit sign. Just after this go right, down a flight of steps, to join Speedy’s Path. This leads through woodland; ignore a path going up to the left and continue to a signpost, where you do go left, up a path signed for Black Hill.
The path joins another on the left then turns up to the left about 15 yards further on. At a track go right and follow it, with a view of Black Hill up to the left. When the track bends right take a path on the left, which goes in a straight line to another signpost. Beyond this, go left at a track and follow it towards the hill.
The track emerges at a road, where you go left. Then, after only a couple of dozen yards, go right to follow a path signed for Georgefield. The path follows the edge of two fields and reaches a farmyard. Go right, rather than into the farmyard, along a farm track. Ignore a path on the left and follow the track up between two hedgerows to reach a gate, which you go through.
Ignore a track on the left and follow one straight ahead. This bears right then left to skirt all the way around the southern side of the hill. The path drops slightly and follows a line of tall trees on the right. Just before the end of the trees follow the main path (really more of a sheep trod) to the left and on reaching a marker post in front of a small wood of larch and pine go left.
The way up the broad, grassy ridge is obvious; over the left side of a small hill and on to the top with its trig point at 1,030ft.
Enjoy the view over the rolling Borders countryside, with the Eildons above Melrose catching the eye, then return to the marker post. You can return the same way, but to vary the route go left and follow a path round the north side of the hill. This turns into a track and reaches the gate at the top of the farm track bordered by hedgerows. Go back through the gate and retrace your steps to the start.
REFRESH: There are three pubs near the start of the walk.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA: Down the A68 is Melrose. The abbey in the centre of the town is where the heart of Robert the Bruce is thought to be buried