THIS column in our outdoors section 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.

The Newstead Circular and Rhymer’s Stone, Melrose, Scottish Borders

By Allan Mackenzie, Melrose Paths

Start: Melrose Abbey

Distance: 3.5 miles/5.5 kilometres

Time: Allow 1.5 to 2 hours

Terrain: Minor roads and mostly good paths, although some parts can be muddy.

Level: Generally flat with one moderate climb.

Access: The route starts and ends in the centre of Melrose. There are regular bus services from Edinburgh to Melrose and a train service from Edinburgh Waverley runs to neighbouring Tweedbank where local transport is available. Walkers may choose to walk to Melrose from the station (1.5 miles).

What makes it special: History, legend and lore – from the Romans to Robert the Bruce.

THE Rhymer’s Stone is inscribed with the tale of Thomas the Rhymer. It was erected by the Melrose Literary Society in 1929 and marks the site of the Eildon Tree under which, the story goes, Thomas the Rhymer met the Faerie Queen.

HeraldScotland: The Newstead Circular and Rhymer’s Stone walking route, Melrose, Scottish Borders. Picture: Allan MackenzieThe Newstead Circular and Rhymer’s Stone walking route, Melrose, Scottish Borders. Picture: Allan Mackenzie

Thomas the Rhymer was a Scottish laird in the 13th century with a reputation for prophesy and supernatural powers: he famously foretold the death of King Alexander III in 1286.

According to legend, he then spent seven years with the Faerie Queen in the Land of the Elves before returning to his home in nearby Earlston for another seven years then disappearing for good.

Route: Start your walk from the car park opposite the historic Melrose Abbey. The abbey is where the heart of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland from 1306 to 1329, is buried.

Head north up Abbey Street onto Annay Road and then onto Chain Bridge Road on the left. Follow the fingerpost at the second gate on the right leading to the river.

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Then follow the River Tweed path eastwards with lovely views of the riverbank, past what is known as the Battery Dyke and waymarked by Melrose Paths signs, to the village of Newstead.

Newstead is said to be the oldest inhabited village in Scotland and the home of the masons who built Melrose Abbey. Just to the east of Newstead sits the site of Trimontium, the largest Roman fort and settlement north of Hadrian’s Wall.

You may wish to explore Newstead village from its Main Street. From Newstead there is a moderate climb to the Rhymer’s Stone which marks the site of the Eildon Tree. Continue to the top of the village at the Trimontium end, turning right on Hazeldean Road and bear left along a footpath.

HeraldScotland: The Newstead Circular and Rhymer’s Stone walking route, Melrose, Scottish Borders. Picture: Allan MackenzieThe Newstead Circular and Rhymer’s Stone walking route, Melrose, Scottish Borders. Picture: Allan Mackenzie

Turn left at a junction, then left again to a kissing gate and go under the subway to another kissing gate. Turn left to go uphill. Take a right at the junction to reach Rhymer’s Stone.

Next to the stone is the Rhymer’s Stone Viewpoint that sits at the foot of the sweeping Eildon Hills and is a popular visitor attraction, created in 1998 by the Rhymer’s Stone Project Group. From the viewpoint you have excellent views of Leaderfoot and the pointed summit of Black Hill.

Follow the road back, passing the cemetery and crematorium, to the bypass at Melrose and return to the Abbey.

Don't miss: Melrose Abbey, Trimontium Museum, the National Trust for Scotland-run Harmony and Priorwood Gardens, and The Greenyards, home of Melrose RFC and where rugby sevens were invented in 1883.

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There is no shortage of great places to eat and drink, including Burts Hotel, Marmions Brasserie and Simply Delicious for ice cream, coffee and tea.

Useful information: This walk and 11 more can be found in the Paths Around Melrose booklet, available from Melrose Paths Group and various outlets in the town, including the above-mentioned restaurants and shops. For more information, visit walkmelrose.org.uk

  • Do you have a walk you would like to suggest? Email susan.swarbrick@theherald.co.uk