Thursday 21st July 2016
The walk to Mrs Buller’s Seat which is in the Cicerone Walker’s Guide to The Border Country begins with the following phrase: “A wistful linear stroll from Sir Walter Scott’s favoured viewpoint……”. Now, if this is ringing bells with you – you get top marks, because we started this walk once before (read about it here: In Scott’s Footsteps ) and cut it short exactly because, along the way, we discovered it was ‘linear’! So what happened this time?
Well…….Mr RR and I had some friends from ‘the city’ to stay – hereafter known as “Mr and Mrs B” or “the lovely couple”, and we decided that a walk from Scott’s View to the Tweed would be a perfect way to show off those amazing views. However, we had completely forgotten that the reason for cutting it short last time was the dreaded word ‘linear’!
This time we got all the way along the river to Mrs Buller’s Seat and had eaten lunch, before the awful truth dawned……don’t you hate linear walks? Me too. They should have their own guide books……” Walks for People Who Don’t Mind Walking the Same Route Twice” or “Walks for People Who Want to Walk Twice the Distance” or something.
Anyway……It was still a lovely walk on a lovely day with the lovely couple! Enjoy!
Scott’s View to the Winding Tweed – and back again. (Mrs RR and Mrs B – 5.6 miles. Mr RR and Mr B about 6.6 miles!!)
We begin of course, at Scott’s View, spending a little time staring at the Eildon Hills in the distance and the patchwork of green with glimpses of the River Tweed in the foreground.
As we walk down over the hill towards the little village of Bemersyde we catch glimpses of a pair of deer in the field below us…
and then continue on our way through the village and along the road to the track through the woodland which leads to that ginormous statue of William Wallace:
Thirty two feet high and gazing out to the peaks of the Eildon Hills, this red sandstone colossus bears the inscription “William Wallace – Great Patriot Hero Ill Requited Chief”. It was erected in 1814 by the Earl of Buchan.
According to Alistair Moffat in his book The Borders, William Wallace exploded (so many explosions on this walk!) into history in 1297 leading a disaffected army of Scots. Victory at Stirling Bridge led to his supporters proclaiming him ‘Guardian of Scotland’. Moffat goes on to say that the myth of Wallace was powerful, surviving his catastrophic error in taking on the English at Falkirk in 1298 and the more historically accurate fact that it was Robert de Bruce who was key to the development of the art of warfare in Scotland at that time.
We follow the track downhill and into Dryburgh village, not stopping at the Abbey this time but walking on towards the river with a short diversion to the columned rotunda housing the ‘Muses of Nature’
The Temple was erected in 1817, again by the Earl of Buchan and was intended as a tribute to the poet James Thomson who wrote the words for ‘Rule Britannia’. It originally contained a statue of Apollo but this disappeared long ago. The present sculpture by local artist Siobhan O’Hehir is a comment on the human relationship with nature.
It’s time for us to cross the footbridge over the Tweed, which we do slowly, enjoying the views on the way:
We now turn sharp left onto St Cuthbert’s Way which takes us along woodland paths, lined with Giant Bellflower, Meadow Cranes-bill and wild raspberries.
Giant Bellflower – here in white and the Nettle-leaved Bellflower (above), also known as Canterbury Bell was relied upon in the Middle Ages to provide relief from tonsillitis and sore throats. Remember the ‘Doctrine of Signatures’ stated that any plant that resembled a part of the human body was put on earth for man’s benefit. The bellflower flower head was thought to resemble a throat and was used in a gargle.
The Meadow Cranes-bill (above on the lower right) is a beautiful violet flower whose darker veins on the petals guide bees to the nectar.
Our path takes us up and over several small wooden bridges across streams or boggy land, before we climb steeply at Hawthorndene, leaving St Cuthberts Way and finding a public footpath which eventually leads us to Mrs Buller’s Seat. Our guide book says that the seat offers ‘explosive views of the triple peaks of Trimontium – the Eildon Hills’. We’ve been keen to see these ‘explosive views’ discussing along the way whether this is a misprint and is meant to read ‘expansive’. We reach the – unlabelled – seat, which we assume to belong to Mrs Buller but although the views from here are worth seeing, they are hardly ‘explosive’ or expansive’. Mr RR takes a quick trot further along the path in case Mrs Buller has settled elsewhere, but he returns shaking his head. So, here we stay and unpack our lunches.
I have no idea why the seat is called ‘Mrs Buller’s’ – if anyone knows – please do tell. Also if you think we were at the wrong seat – let me know.
For about the last mile as we’ve walked along, its been at the back of my mind that this walk is supposed to be 4.75miles and that my feet are telling me that we’ve surely already done about 4 of those miles. So, while we munch away on our cheese rolls I mutter to Mr RR about the distance and he takes a look at the book……..”It’s not a linear walk, this one, is it?” he asks. I groan! Well……the lovely couple are very nice about it, they don’t complain and say they are looking forward to seeing the same things from the opposite direction.
Mr RR gets on the internet and tries to find a way back that doesn’t involve the same path we’ve come on, but has to admit that if there had been a way across the Tweed, the author would surely have made this a circular walk. There’s nothing for it, we have to go back.
Compensation comes in the form of the sighting of a heron, cleverly camouflaged on the shingle across the river.
Eventually we find our way back across the footbridge and start the long trawl uphill towards William Wallace. It seems a long way back to Scott’s View although the men are sure it’s only a short walk, so…….when we emerge from the woods onto the road, Mrs B and I plead exhaustion and pack them off to get the car whilst we linger a bit longer, carrying out an intensive study of the local flora.
Off they go, disappearing over the hillside with assurances that they’ll return in 15 minutes……….
It’s a good bit longer than 15 minutes before we see them again though…..and they are hot and tired…..a longer way than they thought it seems – and all uphill! Refreshment is urgently needed and we agree to drive the short distance to Abbotsford House for tea and scones…..yum!
Artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major