ONE of the highlights of walking in Scotland is the sight of purple-hued hillsides at the end of summer.
Much of the Southern Uplands are blessed with this show of heather, nowhere more so than in the glens leading up from the Yarrow Water. A good destination to aim for is always the Three Brethren – three 9ft cairns which tower over the trig point, erected at the start of the 16th century by the lairds of Yair, Selkirk and Philiphaugh to mark the boundary of their land. From here you can look out over a huge area of moorland and hills, covered in the wonderful purple.
DISTANCE 5 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 1,050ft.
TIME 3 to 4 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 73.
PARK There is a parking area near a red telephone box at the side of the A708 in Yarrowford, about five miles west of Selkirk.
IN SUMMARY Go carefully by the side of the A708 towards Selkirk for about half a mile and take a turning on the left, just before a bridge over the Yarrow Water. (The turning is signed as a “Path to Ashiestiel 4 miles, via Old Broadmeadows.”)
A lane leads to a sign for Broadmeadows House – go right here, along a path between a drive for a house called The Neuk to the left and a pig pen to the right. The path runs high above the Yarrow Water before turning left to go uphill, through tunnels of rhododendrons. You then skirt what was Scotland’s first youth hostel, Broadmeadows, which opened in 1931 but was sold in 2013 and is now a private home. Continue uphill to reach a field gate, which you go through, and turn immediately right to pass through a small wooden gate. A small path interspersed with duckboards leads to a broad path, where you go left at a marker post.
The path leads to a fork – keep right but quite quickly bear left at a marker post to cross boggy ground. A path then leads up, next to a dry stone wall to the left. The wall goes off to the left as the path climbs up to the east of Broomy Law and at a junction of paths higher up you should go straight on, following a yellow arrow on a marker post.
A dry stone wall is rejoined to the left as you get higher and reach a ladder stile crossing another wall. Once over the stile go right to follow the Southern Upland Way. The route from here to the top is straightforward – follow the path for about three-quarters of a mile, past an incongruous forestry plantation which obliterates the carpets of purple heather currently covering the hills, to the three large cairns which make up the Three Brethren.
The view takes in a vast swathe of the Southern Uplands, with the Eildon Hills to the east catching the eye, making this a place to linger. You can vary the return by heading south from the cairns but this ultimately leads to more uphill walking and doesn’t add greatly to the overall enjoyment. I think it better to return the way you came.
REFRESH There is nothing at the start of the walk but Selkirk has a wide choice.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Bowhill House and Country Estate is a couple of miles back along the A708 towards Selkirk. As well as walking trails it has a nice tearoom, adventure playground, riding and, until the end of September, an exhibition celebrating the career of Bill McLaren, “The Voice of Rugby”. www.bowhillhouse.co.uk