Local Interest along the Way
In addition to the history that is directly encountered
on the Way there is other interest which relates to the Way and the
surrounding areas. This section addresses some of this interest and will hopefully be subject to ongoing
development as interested parties and walkers provide new information and
John Graham of Claverhouse (1648 - 89)
Viscount Dundee - 'Bonnie Dundee'
Resulting from the reign of Charles I there was an attempt to suppress
the Presbyterian style of religion and this led to opposition by those
who were known as Covenanters. They were especially strong in the Moffat area and
Southwest of Scotland.
Claverhouse was sent by the Scottish Parliament to put down the
Covenanters and he was posted to Moffat, setting up his lodgings at
the Black Bull Inn.
This was a "bloody" time and anyone found to have taken part in the
"blanket preachings" was under threat of severe punishment. This fight
was finally won by the Covenanters in 1688, but Claverhouse remained
loyal to the Jacobite cause. In a different location and in 1689
Claverhouse lead the Jacobites at Killiecrankie and although they won
Claverhouse was mortally wounded.
Claverhouse was known by several names, the title 'Bonnie Dundee' is
thought to have come from Sir Walter Scott's writings.
From a point passed on the Way just outside Galashiels, Roger Quin
author of the BORDERLAND gazed on Scotland's Eden from
the spur of Gala Hill.
This poet, playwright and lover of the Borders was born on the 25th June
1850 and died in Dumfries on the 21st July 1925.
Merlin the Wizard
Throughout the western section of the Way in the hills around
Moffat and north into Tweedsmuir it is reputed that Merlin was
frequently to be seen walking the "magical hills". It is to the north
in Tweedsmuir at the join of the Tweed and the Drumelzier Burn that
Merlin is said to be buried.
James Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd
(1770 - 1835)
He was born at Ettrick to a tenant farmer and noble peasant mother,
growing up as a farmer and shepherd in this area. James Hogg was a
self-educated man and early poetry and song writing only paid for his
In 1810 he set off to Edinburgh to further his literary talents and
by 1815 with the knowledge and help of the Duke of Buccleuch he managed
to return to the area and undertake farming and his literary
Hogg married a younger wife in 1820 as well as taking on a second
farm. He continued to have financial difficulties throughout his
farming life but this did not mar what appeared to be a very happy
Hogg and Sir Walter Scott met on many occasions. Starting in 1802,
some of these meetings were in the inn at Tibbie Shiels. The last recorded meeting was at
the Gordon Arms just to the east of St Mary's Loch in the Yarrow Valley
Some of Hogg's best known works were 'The Poetic Mirror, The Perils of
Man, Tales of the Wars of Montrose, The Three Perils of Woman and The
Private Memories and Confessions of a Justified Sinner'.
Newark Castle dates from about 1400 and is on a bend of the Yarrow.
This was a stronghold of the Douglases before passing to the Scotts of
Buccleuch. It has a somewhat grizzly past, following the Battle of
Philiphaugh in 1645 the defeated Royalists took refuge in the castle but
were then all brutally killed by the Covenanters. This is also the
stately tower mentioned in Sir Walter Scott's Lay of the
The Square is dominated by the monument to Sir Walter Scott, who
was the Sheriff of Selkirkshire from 1799 to 1832. Behind the statue is
It is also the birthplace of the doctor and explorer Mungo Park.
The wider knowledge of the town was perhaps first noted in 1513 following
the Battle of Flodden. About 100 men, known as Souters from the
shoemaking tradition, fought for the King but only one returned and
this is the basis for a significant part of the annual commonriding.
The shoe-making was also important when the Souters produced 2000
pairs of shoes for Prince Charles Edward Stewart and his highlanders.
This is commemorated in the song, "The Souters o' Selkirk"
The Blythe Water is formed from the Wester and Easter Burns where they
join at the remote Braidshawrig buildings. From here it flows south
west passing the hamlet of Blythe Dod Mill, then becomes the
Boondreigh Water before entering the Leader Water in Lauderdale.
The walkers' bridge is about a mile south of Braidshawrig and where
the Wheelburn joins the Blythe. It was built in 1993 this being undertaken by the
Queens' University OTC. A plaque stands beside the bridge with the OTC
This castle is said to be the most extraordinarily placed castle
in all of Scotland being built on a cliff stack some 100 feet above the
North Sea and only accessible by a gangway following a descent from the
adjoining cliff face.
This was built in the 14th century and has had a stormy and violent
history falling back and forth between the Lord Homes and the English
and then under the ownership of Logan of Restalrig.
Amongst the Royal visitors to the castle were Margaret Tudor on her
way to marry King James in 1502 and Mary Stewart in 1566.
The castle was well described by Sir Walter Scott in his novel the
Bride of Lammermoor where the castle was known as Wolf's Crag and the
home of the Master of Ravenswood.
The views to the west and south east from the Castle ruins are
spectacular, the coastline being rock and dramatic.
The Way is home to endless flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, and
the walker needs to recognise that they will frequently be passing
through fields and open countryside where they can be close at hand.
What is perhaps more unusual are the Llamas to be seen at the western
end of the Way. It is understood that there are herds in Moffat, on
the south banks of St Mary's Loch, and this group is photographed beside
the memorial to James Hogg in Ettrick.