Wednesday 8 June 2016
A seven mile circular walk on level ground around St Mary's Loch, with three optional extras, making over ten miles in all. We started at half past eleven, as the mist was lifting, and ended up walking in hot sunshine. We took the walk at a steady pace and had leisurely coffee and lunch breaks, returning to the car at about six o'clock.
The route is well signed, and easy to follow.
We walked in an anticlockwise direction starting from the Glen Cafe near the James Hogg monument.
There'll be more info about 'the Ettrick Shepherd' on my other blog. The weather was dull and the cloud was low when we arrived.
After a coffee and flapjack, and a brief nod to James Hogg we were ready.
We crossed the road bridge and turned left by Tibbie Shiel's Inn. She was a well known landlady in the time of Hogg and Walter Scott. The tale goes that you could party on a Saturday night, but had to attend the family service on a Sunday.
We followed the path past the sailing club and along the shoreline. There's grassland and woodland, and some modern sculptures.
This refers to the ribbons from Tibbie Shiels's wedding bonnet. She gave them to two of her sons as bible bookmarks when they emigrated to Canada. Their own brides wore them, and eventually one was returned to Scotland, and is still used today.
This is the marriage stone of her parents, Philip and Mary, set into the wall of Dryhope Tower.
We climbed the recently installed metal spiral staircase to the top, and had lunch in the warm sun, enjoying the fine views.
We returned to the road, retracing our steps, and followed it until we saw the waymarked sign which indicated an old drove road, a little way above the modern road.
After a mile or so there were signs to St Mary's Kirkyard, uphill of course, though we could see no sign of it from where we were. But needs must, and we headed upwards.
This kirk (and incidentally the Auld Kirk in Selkirk as well) claims to be the Kirk in the Forest, where William Wallace was proclaimed Guardian of Scotland. All that remains of the twelfth century church is the kirkyard. Every July, an outdoor service called the Blanket Preaching is held here to commemorate the outlawed Covenanters, who would hold services in secret places in the seventeenth century.
Downhill now, and back to the drove road. The path crosses the modern road and soon we arrived at the junction to Megget, where we took another diversion to visit the supposed grave of Piers Cockburn, a reiver of the 1500s who was executed by King James in 1530.
We returned to the main path and followed the route alongside the loch - as always the last couple of miles seemed the longest.