Section 1 - Moffat to Tibbie Shiels
The section from Moffat to
Tibbie Shiels is 20 miles / 32.5 km.
This is mainly on hill and grass paths with short sections of road at
the start and between potburn and Scabcleuch.
This is the longest and most isolated of all the sections few
practical alternative but to complete the full section in one day. It
is also the section with the highest point (1739 feet) on the way
being passed at Ettrick Head. Many of the hills in this area are
substantial in size, several being "Grahams".
The rewards on the section are significant with dramatic hills,
changing scenery and the removal from the sights and sounds of traffic
and busy communities.
The Sir Walter Scott Way starts from the centre of Moffat close to the Black Bull Inn. The
route at this point is not on the Southern Upland Way nor is it
waymarked. (for a simple map click here)
Leave the High
Street at the south east corner via the A708 marked for Selkirk. Shortly
the route turns right onto a minor road (Old Carlisle Road), then
bears left prior to reaching Dumcrieff Bridge at the Moffat Water.
At the Duncrieff Bridge the Sir Walter Scott Way reaches the Southern
Upland Way and the direction of the way is now defined by the SUW
Waymarker signs. On the south of the bridge turn left into the wood
and follow the path till it emerges into a meadow by the side of
The Moffat Water is flowing south west and shortly into the River
Annan. From here it flows to the Solway. Having crossed a minor road
the way starts to climb and within 5 miles the Way will have crossed
the Council boundary and the watershed, with all further rivers and
burns then heading east to the North Sea.
The route passes through forestry near to Yadburgh Hill. This is an
extended section of forestry first on a very well maintained forestry
track then on an attractive grass path. This forestry section comes
to an end below Croft head and to the Northwest of Loch Fell.
There is now an open section on a hillside path with a dramatic view
Northwest down the Selcoth Burn and beyond towards the hills on the
north of Moffat Dale.
This next section is on a very narrow and sometimes steep path on the
hillside, and care should be taken.
Ettrick Head situated between Capel and Wind Fell is on the county
boundary. For the next seven miles the route runs alongside the
Ettrick Water. Initially it is on forest path then track, then reaching
the open valley at Phawhope Bothy. Soon the way reaches a single track
road for the rest of the way to the Scabcleuch Burn.
If the walk is to be shortened on the first section Scabcleuch is
the a practical option and can be used if pick up services have
been arranged. There is also some farmhouse B&B accommodation in the Ettrick Valley close to Scabcleuch. The impact on walking distances can be seen using this
The way breaks from the Ettrick and climbs steeply towards
After walking parallel to the Whithope Burn the way reaches the final
high point where a path joins from Hopehouse using the Captain's Road.
This is the countryside that James
Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd will have
known so well, and from up in this area little if anything will have
changed from his time.
The descent is first by a grass track that turns later into a
stone track all the way to the side of Crosscleuch Farm. The views
are dramatic, St Mary's Loch appearing some 100 to 150 metres below. To
the West the views are over a series of hills with Broad Law at 840
metres dominating the horizon.
This section finishes at Tibbie
Shiels, a small strip of land between
the Loch of the Lowes and St Mary's Loch.
Prior to the ice age the two lochs were one, but now this is a
pleasant section of land used for recreation in the form of the St Mary
's Loch Saling Club pavilion, a caravan site and hotel.
This area was frequented by
James Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd and
it was in the Inn that he would regularly relax and enjoy the company
of other literary persons. A monument is erected to him close to the
There is very limited bed accommodation at this point so you are
stronly advised to pre book either directly or through a
walkers' booking system.