THIS column is dedicated to walking and ramblers' groups from across Scotland, where they can suggest the best routes to enjoy from their areas and further afield.

Earlston and around the Black Hill, Scottish Borders

By Helen Rabour, Coldstream Ramblers

Start: The square near the bus station

Distance: 4 miles/6 kilometres (5 miles/8 kilometres including summit)

Time: Two to three hours

Terrain: Some quiet road, tracks and grassy paths.

Level: Slow incline, even up to the summit.

Access: There is car parking on main street. By bus to Earlston from Edinburgh and around the Borders.

What makes it special: Fascinating history, picturesque countryside and sweeping views.

IF you are planning to explore the splendour of Sir Walter Scott country, this charming walk from Earlston and around the Black Hill is a must for your itinerary.

Thomas the Rhymer was a Scottish laird, poet and reputed prophet born in Earlston (then called "Erceldoune") who lived during the 13th century and was later celebrated by Scott. The ruins of the Rhymer's Tower are part of this route.

HeraldScotland: The scenic views of the Earlston and around the Black Hill walking route. Picture: Barbara GreerThe scenic views of the Earlston and around the Black Hill walking route. Picture: Barbara Greer

Route: Go east along the High Street and just after the primary school there is a road to the right over the bridge. Follow this quiet road past the back of the new high school to Georgefield Farm where it becomes a track.

This once went through woodland but has recently been felled. After another half mile, the track bends to the right (there is a gate across the track going straight on) and goes to Whitefield Farm. At the farm a footpath to the right takes you round the farm and into a field.

Follow the wall up the hill (there is a rough path) through two fields. At the third field bear slightly to the left to a gate at the corner of the wood. You will see a footpath post up the hill, make for it – this is the steepest part of the ascent.

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Here you decide whether to make the ascent to the summit; if you do this, come back the same way to the post. Keep left along the contour (or right if you have done the summit) towards the fence, where a path and then a track will take you around the base of the hill.

This is a very pleasant grassy track with trees and open views. This track eventually joins the shorter track down from the hill and descends between two hedges to Cowdenknowes Mains, where a path goes down to the road.

Turn left along the road to the lodge and gates on the right and follow the drive which leads ultimately to Cowdenknowes House, celebrated in a Border Ballad. The footpath forks to the right just before the house, but it is worth taking a detour to look at the house (which is a private residence).

HeraldScotland: The scenic views of the Earlston and around the Black Hill walking route. Picture: Barbara GreerThe scenic views of the Earlston and around the Black Hill walking route. Picture: Barbara Greer

The present house stands on the site of a 12th-century stronghold and was acquired by the Hume family in the 15th century. Return to the footpath, which follows another drive. After a short way the footpath descends to Speedy's Path through the woods parallel to the river.

Speedy was a tramp who lived in the woods. At the end of the path steps lead up to the road which leads back to the bus station and square. After the walk there is a cafe beside the ruined Rhymer's Tower. This is across the A68 which is reached by turning left along the High Street.

Don't miss: Go into the square to see the memorial to the renowned Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov. He was actually a descendant of Thomas the Rhymer of the Learmont family from Earlston, who went to live in Russia.

Useful information: Coldstream Ramblers have group walks every other weekend. The programme is available on the Ramblers website and updated a month at a time. Visit

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The walks are generally across eastern and central Borders or in north Northumberland. For more information, call Helen Rabour 01573 470361.

Do you have a walk you would like to suggest? Email