The Border Abbeys Way is a lovely way to explore the prettiest aspects of some of the prettiest shires in the land. It winds through the Middle Shires, primarily in Roxburghshire, but visiting three counties in a circular walk of 65 miles.
The theme of the way is in its name: in the Twelfth Century, King David I built a series of monasteries, in his southern borderlands – they were unlike anything Scotland had seen before: they were modern, of the European pattern that was now established across England, and the great estates the King gave them made the abbeys wealthy. In later ages they became the soaring, Gothic wonders whose denuded bones now stand in the towns to which they gave birth.
The route follows the gorgeous Rivers Tweed and Teviot, and the lands between, visiting Jedburgh, with Jedburgh Abbey, Hawick, Selkirk, Melrose, Melrose Abbey, Newtown St Boswells, Dryburgh Abbey, Kelso and Kelso Abbey, and Roxburgh before returning to Jedburgh.
In completing this ring, the way passes through Roxburghshire, up the River Teviot to Hawick then north over the high moorland and down into Selkirk, in Selkirkshire. Then taking the high paths rather than the banks of the Ettrick Water, the Borders Abbey Way re-enters Roxburghshire and reaches the Tweed above Melrose. From here it follows the Tweed down at a distance, entering Berwickshire and the little towns and romantic abbey ruins in the Tweed valley here, to cross the Tweed again at Kelso, and thence turning south-west, up the Teviot and back to Jedburgh.