Walk of the week: Pirn Hill and Leithen Water

THE Borders are blessed with some of the most enchanting scenery in Scotland and on a crisp sunny day in winter it can look at its very best.

Pirn Hill and Leithenwater. Picture: Contributed
Pirn Hill and Leithenwater. Picture: Contributed

Rolling hills are softened further by low sunlight while the bright golden branches of larch stand like beacons amid the brown grasses and heathers. Meanwhile, underfoot a satisfying crunch marks the season.

Above Innerleithen, away from the languid flow of the Tweed, Leithen Water pours in from the moorland. Walking up it is to walk away from the urban into a glimpse of the vast expanse of open spaces which can make this area feel as remote as anywhere else on the mainland.

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Before heading upstream, however, it is worth going up Pirn Hill. Here, Iron Age man built a fort 2,000 years ago and kept a watchful eye on the comings and goings of the Romans.

You really have to be an archaeologist to appreciate the architecture of the ancient past but it still makes for a wonderful viewpoint, nowadays concentrating on some stunning countryside.

DISTANCE 3.5 miles.


TIME 1 to 2 hours.

MAP OS Landranger 73.

PARK Take the B709, Heriot road, out of Innerleithen and after about 100 yards there is a car park on the right hand side of the road.

IN SUMMARY Continue on foot up the B709 for a couple of hundred yards where a brown sign points right for Pirn Hill Fort. Follow the sign, along a track and across a stone bridge over Leithen Water.

On the other side of the bridge turn right and at an information board take a higher path, up and to the right of the board, with a marker post at the bottom of it. At a junction of paths go left to continue uphill, ignoring a path to the right further along. At a marker post go right then bear left to go past another post with a red flash on it.

Beyond are a series of sculptures which mark the top of the hill. Take time to enjoy the view over the Tweed Valley and up the Leithen Water before returning to the information board near the bottom.

Continue past the information board, taking the highest of the paths going upstream, along the Leithen Water. At the end of a substantial beech wood ignore a path to the right and continue in the same direction.

The path climbs gently through forestry then drops to run beside a golf course. On reaching a track go left and drop down to a gate and then a road, where you go left to recross Leithen Water. At a weir go down a path which leads along the riverside.

This path continues behind houses, eventually bearing right to go through a wooden kissing gate and a return to the road. Go left to go back to the start.

REFRESH There are plenty of places in Innerleithen.

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Innerleithen is well served. Robert Smail’s Printing Works, on the High Street, is a hands-on living museum (www.nts.org.uk) of printing from the Victorian era.

The spa of St Ronan’s Wells, above the town, is also worth a visit but is only open in the summer months.

Twitter: @ScotlandWalk