I was on my way home from an appointment in Melrose and decided to stop off at Harestanes Countryside Visitors’ Centre for a coffee.
This is a place of many happy memories…visits with the children when they were younger and as a lunch stop on a number of pilgrimages that I have led along St Cuthbert’s Way.
Once I was there, how could I resist a short walk (my time was a bit limited). I wondered about taking the path up Peniel Heugh to the Waterloo Monument, but decided to tread a more familiar path, along part of St Cuthbert’s Way out to the Monteviot Suspension bridge across the River Teviot, instead.
Early autumn is in the air, and I left the courtyard of the Centre by the small door next to “Mary’s Dairy”, resisting the temptation of delicious ice cream, and followed the path by the access road, in the direction of the Stables at Monteviot House, until it takes a left turn and crosses a stream via a wooden footbridge.
The path continues through a small wood, with some interesting trees with exposed roots, until it meets St Cuthbert’s Way, at which point I followed the signpost ‘East’.
Along the route are several marker posts…the one in the photograph bears the cross for St Cuthbert’s Way, a Roman helmet, because the route is a continuation of Deere Street and the green arrow for one of Harestanes own suggested routes.
When I emerged from the woods onto the main drive of Monteviot House I turned left towards the gates before turning right onto the signposted St Cuthbert’s Way and plunging back into the woods.
These woods are filled with beech trees and some magnificent oaks, and I saw squirrels skittering about beneath them.
When the path left the wood I followed it along the edges of a number of spacious fields. There are several magnificent oaks along this path…I sheltered under one when a sudden short, drizzly shower came from nowhere.
Shower over, I reached the end of the field path and went through a gate into a largely coniferous wood.
The path led on to a T-junction: I went left to the viewpoint onto the River Teviot at Nisbet Mill Cauld before backtracking down the right path and walking on to the Monteviot Suspension Bridge, built with the help of money from the EU.
In order to get some panoramic photographs I crossed the bridge, which was swaying quite a bit in the fresh breeze. It’s narrow, high and long, with long approach ramps at each end. I remembered how, on a previous visit, our bearded collie, Sam, had refused point blank to walk across and had to be carried across the most terrifying (for him) bit.
After pausing for a while to enjoy the solitude (I’d only met two people, both of them clearly long distance path walkers, since leaving the centre) I returned to the Centre by the same route, and continued my journey home. I had walked a very pleasant 5 miles in total.