Selkirk, Borders

Map: OS Landranger 73

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Distance: 40 miles (64km)

Time: 4-5 hours

Terrain: undulating, one major climb; mainly quiet roads

Explore the peaceful Ettrick Valley on this excellent Borders tour. Scottish literature aficionados will be well rewarded as the route, remote in parts, passes a number of sites associated with the outspoken 18th century poet James Hogg.

Leave Selkirk to follow the undulating B7009 for a slow seven miles (11km) into Ettrickbridge, beyond which traffic levels ease. After some hills the valley opens out to give idyllic cycling.

Where the road passes a turning on the right, signed Innerleithen, pedal on for four miles (6.5km) for Ettrick, signed off the B709. This is where the shepherd-turned-writer James Hogg was born in 1770; a monument marks the site of his birthplace cottage.

The self-educated Hogg had a thorough grasp of the world and his pen caused both delight and consternation. An exhibition at the old Ettrick School (open Wednesday, Friday and Sunday afternoons until September 29) details his remarkable life.

Return to the road for Innerleithen and a steady, well-graded ascent before dropping down into the Yarrow Valley.

The Gordon Arms at the crossroads welcomes cyclists, as it did Hogg and his drinking companion Sir Walter Scott in their day.

Heading east on the A708, the road undulates with the occasional hill.

Watch for the odd reckless driver as you return to Selkirk.

fergal macerlean