Walk of the week: River Tweed, Peebles

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NESTLED in the rolling Borders countryside, Peebles is worth a visit in its own right. When combined with a walk along the River Tweed and into the surrounding countryside, it can make a perfect day out.

Note that the paths followed on this walk are rocky, and can be muddy, so good footwear is needed.

You soon leave the town behind as you walk through Hay Lodge Park, before rounding a bend to come out below the impressive medieval stronghold of Neidpath Castle.

More open countryside is reached near a 19th-century railway viaduct. Walk to the middle to admire the river before heading along the old line (it stopped being used some 60 years ago). Look out for kingfishers – the bright blue and orange bird – as they are often seen here.

Further up the river, cross Manor Bridge and Old Manor Brig (built in 1702) before following a minor road up a steep hill known as Manor Sware. It's worth stopping for a breather as you climb to take in the fantastic views of the Tweed valley behind you.

Once at the top of the hill, cut back down through South Park Wood. There are many paths through this popular forest, which will take you uphill a little further before rejoining the river opposite the castle. It is then a simple stroll along the river to Peebles.

Distance 3.75 miles.

Height climbed 320ft.

Time 1.5 to 2.5 hours.

Map OS Landranger 73.

Park

In the centre of Peebles, then make your way to Tweed Bridge.

In summary Go to the north side of the bridge (the same side as the Old Parish Church with its clock and stone crown). Follow a narrow road down to the town's swimming pool, which you pass to join a path going west (which is upstream) along the river.

Not long after crossing a small footbridge, go up some steps to the right, then immediately turn left along a level path before going down more steps to return to the riverside at Hay Lodge Park. Go past a playground and continue by the river, over grass, and go past a metal bridge (Fotheringham) and another play area.

Continue along the river, through a wooden gate and under Neidpath Castle. Carry on through another couple of wooden gates before reaching a disused railway viaduct. Just before this, go up some steps to the right and turn right at the top to follow the bed of the old railway line.

Go left at a road and follow it over a bridge above the river, then go left again, along a minor road, which leads over Old Manor Brig and then rises steeply. On reaching a car park on the right, enter woods on the other side of the road and take a path to the left. After about 50 yards, go right at another path and follow it uphill, ignoring paths going off on either side.

At a fork near the top of the wood, go left and drop down. Look for a step cut into a fallen tree, then go left at a four-way junction. At the bottom, go right, along a path above the river. Follow this until Fotheringham Bridge, which you cross, and then turn right to retrace your steps to the start.

Refreshments

The Bridge Inn, at the start of the walk, is an award-winner – no children are allowed, and food isn't served, but you can enjoy an excellent pint. Otherwise, there is a vast choice in Peebles, including the Courthouse.

While you are in the area

Two miles east of Peebles, off the A72, is Glentress Forest – the mountain-biking capital of Britain. The Hub in the Forest (www.thehubintheforest.co.uk, 01721 721736) has a shop and caf and offers tuition and bike hire.

About eight miles west of Peebles, along the A72 and left on to the B712, is Dawyck Botanic Garden (01721 760254, www.rbge.org.uk), an offshoot of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. This is a great place to while away a couple of hours, and it has a new visitor centre with a caf. However, the place is closed during December and January.