Day 3 Lauder to Yair – about 19 miles

This was the day Prince William was married to Catherine Middleton. I didn’t stay in to watch television, and by 7.45am I was heading through Lauder towards Melrose.

Above: Lauder Kirk Below: The Roman road to Melrose


The SUW quickly climbs across the hillside south of the town and progresses easily on field paths, unsurfaced and surfaced lanes towards Melrose. I was impatient to reach the Tweed valley, and hazy sightings of the Eildon Hills drew me onwards. The route follows the line of a Roman road, and as elsewhere in the Borders Region the waymarking was first class.

My haste arose from the urge to enter more spectacular scenery. Pleasant though the landscape had been, I knew that better views awaited me. Some river valleys ooze grandeur, and the Tweed is amongst them. It is the one I remember with most satisfaction.

On the way to the river I met three women marching determinedly towards Lauder. They confirmed they were walking the SUW, so we exchanged information and wished each other well. When I asked if they’d found a television to watch the royal wedding, they denied any interest.

Near the footbridge over the Tweed two anglers were casting for their dinner, and by that time I was keen to catch a cup of coffee. It took three attempts, most Melrose café operators having shut up shop until afternoon

Looking west along the Tweed valley

Melrose is a neat little town with attractive buildings of red sandstone, and it has all the facilities a walker needs, including a youth hostel which I’d used two years earlier en route to Edinburgh. On this trip I moved on towards Galashiels, a pleasant walk beside the river at first but a featureless trudge on a former railway line as far as Gala Hill.

The SUW heads up the side of Gala Hill, from where the views of the Eildon Hills are fine. Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, comes briefly into sight. The official route continues into the outskirts of Galashiels, which is helpful if one needs supplies or accommodation, but otherwise it is a pointless diversion. A better route runs east of the summit of Gala Hill.

Above: Melrose Abbey           Below: The Eildon Hills and Abbotsford

My B&B was in Galashiels, but I had a cunning plan. I would walk on as far as Yair today, return to Galashiels, and get a ride to Yair next morning. Thus I would have plenty of time at Traquair House, and I wouldn’t have to spend quite so much time alone in Galashiels on a Friday night.

I knew the route to Yair, having walked it two years ago, and I was delighted with the spritely way I made the top of the hill – far better than my previous visit.

Galashiels is the biggest town on the SUW. It offers all services and is quite cosmopolitan if the range of eating places is any guide. I ate a very good meal at an Indian restaurant, and when I emerged the town was buzzing with life. The pale, thin druggies had left the shop doorways, and in the street were a pipe band, a brass band, and a host of people dressed to the nines. I asked what was happening and was told it was the selection of the boy and girl who would lead the Common Riding, an ancient custom of towns in the region to check the common lands were not encroached upon by unauthorised farming. For half an hour I was entertained by the sights and sounds, before returning contented to my room for a deep sleep.

Looking back at Galashiels from the path to Yair

Start of the descent to Yair

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