Travel Report: The Meigle Circular, Scotland.
May 2019. There are no shortages of hiking trails in and around the Scottish town of Galashiels. In fact, jump in the car from the town centre and you’ve got a dozen options within a twenty minute drive. Furthermore, my parents have access to one of the area’s prettiest walking routes right on their doorstep! It’s called The Meigle Circular, a 6-mile hike through stunning Borders countryside connected to both Galashiels and the village of Clovenfords.
It couldn’t be easier for me to get onto The Meigle Circular. I just walk down the road from my folks’ place and cut into a path leading up into the hills. Along the way, I always find myself knocked for six by this simply incredible yew tree sitting in someone’s garden.
The Meigle Circular, Scotland.
If you want to do the Meigle Circular in full, they say you should start on the Green Path trail from Clovenfords.
However, I always cut in from William Law Gardens to tackle a section of the trail for an afternoon hike/jog. The path runs along a large farmer’s field, home to some of Galashiels’ most curious cows.
Sometimes I go alone, plugged into The Guardian’s Football Weekly Podcast. Or perhaps an episode of Desert Island Discs. Other times I’ll be walking our dog River. Or rather I should say he’d be walking me! He certainly knows this countryside better than I do.
The Scottish Borders.
The trail quickly starts ascending and within ten minutes or so I’m already able to look back down over the way I’ve come. This photo takes in the huddled communities of William Law Gardens and Chris Paterson Place. And of course the handsome countryside beyond.
There’s also a disused quarry up here. It must have some pretty good smells, as River goes crazy for it!
The Meigle Circular, Scotland.
By the time I reach the wooden signpost I have a decision to make. I can hit left, which takes me onto a route running towards Galashiels town centre. Or I can go right through the rolling fields of Mossilee Farm.
The Mossilee Farm hike literally involves walking right through the farmer’s fields. Actually this always feels weird for me, even though I know everyone has freedom to roam in Scotland. This is officially known as The Land Reform Act, which passed in 2003. It basically means people are free to explore the fields, hills, valleys, moors and waters of Scotland, as long as you behave responsibly. For more info, this cool article gives you the full lowdown.
Whenever I go in this direction, I only hike as far as this small copse beyond the farm itself. It takes around half an hour from the signpost and you have to be really careful with the cows. Stick to the edge of the field by the fence and don’t panic if they start closing in on you with what appears to be menacing intent. They’re just protecting their calves and, as long as you don’t make any sudden movements, they will retreat in a wave, the same way they approached.
Wallace’s Putting Stone.
Left at the signpost soon offers up fulsome views over Galashiels itself. Continue along the way and you can follow the trail up onto Meigle Hill where, until very recently, people would seek out the route’s star attraction, Wallace’s Putting Stone.
The stone is an enormous glacial boulder that comes with a kooky legend. They say that the great Scottish knight William Wallace once lobbed this thing at advancing English soldiers. Hikers used to come here to a) try and lift it and b) check out its graffiti, some of which goes back to 1861. Sadly, all this attention finally caused the stone to crack! As a result, it was taken away for restoration in March 2019. There’s no word yet on when or indeed if it will return.
Rather than head to Meigle Hill, I’m in the habit of cutting into Galashiels for a loop route back to Thomas HQ. Along the way, I pass Meigle Park, home to Gala Cricket Club. There are also some eye-catching townhouses in the streets around here, such as the lovely Ardenleigh on Windyknowe Road.
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