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Melrose and Abbotsford

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Melrose and Abbotsford
Author: Andrew's Walks, Published: 11 Dec 2018 Walk Rating:star0 Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Bordersstar0 Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Bordersstar0 Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Bordersstar0 Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Bordersstar0 Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders
Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Melrose and Abbotsford
Length: 7 miles,  Difficulty: boot Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders boot Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders
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0002_sunny_intervals Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish BordersToday's weather
14 °C, Partly cloudy, Wind: 6 mph SE
Next few days: Hover over icon for more info.
0002_sunny_intervals Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders 0002_sunny_intervals Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders 0006_mist Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders 0006_mist Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders 0007_fog Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders

A 7 mile circular walk from the Gattonside Suspension Footbridge on the River Tweed, which links Gattonside and Melrose in the Scottish Borders. The walk gives you an option to visit the ruins of Melrose Abbey (the site of the burial of the heart of the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce) before joining a stretch of the old railway and quiet lanes heading west to reach Abbotsford House (the former home of Sir Walter Scott). The return leg follows the banks of the River Tweed with plenty of wildlife to enjoy.

The terrain is relatively straightforward with just a few steady gradients. The walk follows riverside paths, woodland paths, an old railway, quiet country lanes and roadside pavements. Some sections can be muddy in winter and after periods of rain. You will need to negotiate some steps, gates and kissing gates but there are no stiles on route. The estate paths of Abbotsford are open all year round, entry is free and dogs are welcome – if you wish to explore the house or formal gardens then check opening times and entrance fees before you visit. Melrose Abbey is open all year, but entrance fees apply and dogs are welcome in the outdoor (un-roofed) areas only. Allow 3.5 hours plus extra time for the optional attractions.

The walk starts and finishes at the northern end of the Gattonside Suspension Bridge, on the north bank of the River Tweed and on the edge of Gattonside village. There is parking here for about 3 cars, but if this is full you could adjust the walk to park in Melrose and start on the river’s south bank instead. Approximate post code TD6 9LZ.

Walk Sections

Start to St Mary's Church
Start to St Mary's Church

Start point: 55.6033 lat, -2.7233 long
End point: 55.6003 lat, -2.7259 long

From the north bank of the River Tweed, cross the Gattonside Suspension Footbridge (noting the rules that no more than 8 people should be on the bridge at any time). Built in 1826, the bridge was repaired in 1992 and is a protected listed building. At the far side turn right along the path, with the river running across to your right. Turn left onto the path heading away from the river and then fork right to join the path leading to St Mary’s Church on your right.

St Mary's Church to Melrose Abbey
St Mary's Church to Melrose Abbey

Start point: 55.6003 lat, -2.7259 long
End point: 55.5991 lat, -2.7189 long

After passing the church you will emerge to the end of St Mary’s Road. Turn right for a few paces to reach the T-junction with Melrose High Street (B6374) and turn left along this pavement. Follow the pavement leading into the centre of Melrose. You will reach a fork in the road at the start of the one-way traffic system. Take the left-hand branch (Buccleuch Street) and follow this ahead.

Where this main road bends right, we turn left for just a short distance on a short detour to visit Melrose Abbey. If funds and time allow, it is worth visiting the abbey ruins. King David I founded Melrose Abbey, the first Cistercian monastery in Scotland, in 1136. Monastic life continued at Melrose for the next 450 years. The last monk, John Watson, died around 1590. Powerful people endowed the abbey richly and it was a highly desirable final resting place. Alexander II (died 1249) was among the privileged people to be buried here. The heart of Robert the Bruce (died 1329) was also buried at Melrose (you will see a stone memorial plinth marking this site), although his body was interred at Dunfermline Abbey.

Melrose Abbey to Melrose Station
Melrose Abbey to Melrose Station

Start point: 55.5991 lat, -2.7189 long
End point: 55.5967 lat, -2.7216 long

When you are ready to continue, stand with your back to the abbey entrance and turn left to retrace your steps back along the pavement. This time keep straight ahead at the junction, following Abbey Street. You will emerge to the circular junction in Market Square. Go straight ahead into Dingleton Road and then take the first right into a no-through road signed to Melrose Station. Pass the old station building on your left and then bear left to access the old platform at the start of the old rail path.

Melrose Station to Chiefswood Road
Melrose Station to Chiefswood Road

Start point: 55.5967 lat, -2.7216 long
End point: 55.5973 lat, -2.7395 long

Walk ahead to join the old railway path, leading you out of town. This beautiful old path is lined with daffodils in the spring months. The Melrose bypass road runs parallel to your left. After about 1.2km you will emerge out to a junction with Chiefswood Road, with a large road bridge carrying the bypass just on your left.

Chiefswood Road to Broomilees Road
Chiefswood Road to Broomilees Road

Start point: 55.5973 lat, -2.7395 long
End point: 55.6008 lat, -2.7489 long

Cross over the road and go straight ahead to continue on the old railway path. About 400 metres later you will emerge to the end of the small road known as Lye Road. Turn right (away from the underpass) and follow the small lane between houses for a short distance. At the small junction, turn left to follow the side branch of the lane between houses and then out into countryside. You will emerge to a T-junction with Broomilees Road (with a nature reserve opposite).

Broomilees Road to Borders Abbey Way
Broomilees Road to Borders Abbey Way

Start point: 55.6008 lat, -2.7489 long
End point: 55.5962 lat, -2.7723 long

Turn left along the road and follow it as it crosses over the bypass. This section of road walking on country lanes is quite a lengthy one, but we encountered no traffic at all. The lane takes you past three farms – Broomilees, Sunnyside and Kaeside – climbing gently for about 1.5km. When you reach a junction with a fingerpost, ignore the side lane on the left and keep ahead instead. You have now joined a section of the Borders Abbey Way (which we will be following for much of the return leg).

Borders Abbey Way to Abbotsford Lodge
Borders Abbey Way to Abbotsford Lodge

Start point: 55.5962 lat, -2.7723 long
End point: 55.5979 lat, -2.7834 long

Follow the lane which leads you past a house on your right and barns on your left and then bends sharp right. Stay with the lane as it leads you downhill and, where the lane bears right, turn left through a kissing gate (pictured) to leave the lane. Follow this woodland path leading you downhill and you will emerge out to a junction with the B6360, opposite the lodge for Abbotsford House.

Abbotsford Lodge to Riverside
Abbotsford Lodge to Riverside

Start point: 55.5979 lat, -2.7834 long
End point: 55.6028 lat, -2.7798 long

The next stretch of the walk follows permissive paths through the Abbotsford Estate. The paths are open all year with free entry and dogs are welcome. However, if you wish to visit the formal gardens or house, opening times are seasonal and you will need to pay an entrance fee.

Follow the entrance drive into the estate. The path bends right and leads you past Abbotsford House and the walled gardens on your left. The house was the former home of Sir Walter Scott. Just after the visitor centre, turn left and follow the Borders Abbey Way downhill. This path leads you downhill and bears right to become a riverside path (with the river running on your left), passing under a modern road bridge.

Riverside to Lowood Bridge
Riverside to Lowood Bridge

Start point: 55.6028 lat, -2.7798 long
End point: 55.6047 lat, -2.7506 long

We will be following this riverside path (part of the Borders Abbey Way) all the way back to the suspension bridge at the start of the walk. On the opposite side of the river, where the tributary called Gala Water joins the Tweed, more than 300 species of non-native plants were recorded flowering here during the 1800s, at the height of the wool industry in Galashiels. This was due to sheep fleeces being brought from all over the world and, when these were washed in the mills, the seeds of plants were carried down the river and germinated on the river banks.

Go under the Redbridge Viaduct and continue past Lowood House. Along the riverside look out for heron, oystercatcher, goosander and, if you are very lucky, otter and kingfisher. You will finally emerge to the road at Lowood Bridge.

Lowood Bridge to End
Lowood Bridge to End

Start point: 55.6047 lat, -2.7506 long
End point: 55.6034 lat, -2.7235 long

Ignore the bridge on your left, instead go straight ahead along the road (using the left-hand pavement for your safety). When you draw level with a side road on your right, fork left to leave the roadside pavement and re-join the riverside footpath. Continue on this riverside path with the river running on your left. Eventually the Gattonside Suspension footbridge will come into view. Cross the bridge to reach the north bank where the walk began.

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network Melrose and Abbotsford Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author AndrewLocking and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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