IT was a wonderfully cold morning in the Borders and a bright blue sky was above the icy white branches of trees and shrubs in the Tweed Valley.
Perfect, then, for a tramp in the Southern Uplands. Unfortunately, however, I had made a schoolboy error – I had forgotten my boots.
After berating myself, I realised I could still go somewhere in my so-called walking shoes (aren’t all shoes for walking?).
Cademuir took me in and provided a pleasant surprise. It wasn’t the higher-level walk I had planned, but it did bring great views of the surrounding hills and the rolling countryside outside Peebles.
It also brought silence on a windless day as I saw no one else except one man with two excited terriers.
The walk is the longer of two waymarked routes in the Forestry Commission’s plantation and is named Pilots Trail – after two downed German airmen who took cover in the forest during the Second World War, and who were given away by smoke from their campfire. I bet they remembered their boots though.
1½ to 2 hours.
OS Landranger 73.
Cross the Tweed on the B7062 from Peebles High Street, then take the second right – up Springhill Road. After about 400 yards, turn right into Springwood Road and just before the school go left, down Bonnington Road. You will come to a Forestry Commission car park after about a mile and half.
From the bottom of the car park, take a track on the left. This leads to the north side of the Forestry Commission’s plantation and offers views over Peebles.
Just after a bench, go up a path on the left – there is a marker post at the bottom with a blue and red flash. The path heads south, veering left before reaching a junction with three marker posts. Go right, past a post with a single red flash.
The path crosses to the east side of the plantation and then continues south, up a small hill. After dropping down, go right at a junction of paths, then left just before a gate in a dry stone wall. Follow the path down steeply on the left of the wall. The path swings sharp left, through forestry, to reach an area of larch at the top of a grassy track.
Follow the track to the south of the plantation, where it merges with a more distinct one, and carry on in the same direction. Follow the track round to the left, then gradually downhill to get back to the car park.
There is nothing at the start of the walk – try Peebles, where there is a wide choice.
WHILE IN THE AREA Head east from Peebles on the A72 for a mile or so to find Glentress Forest (www.forestry.gov.uk) – mountain biking heaven. You can hire bikes here and take classes for beginners.