I first did this walk 12 years ago when I was training to do a charity walk along the Great Wall of China. Now I find myself living a couple of miles away from Minch Moor, which seems strange indeed. In an effort to see a different view as lock down was eased very slightly we decided to walk up to Minch Moor and have a picnic. The weather was good, not too hot, bit over cast and not raining! We parked in the carpark of the village Hall at Traquair and headed up the track following the signs for the Southern Upland Way.
|Dog roses on the farm track out of Traquair|
The Minch moor Road was at one time the main route across southern Scotland and the old road from Traquair has been used for over 800 years. Climbing steeply, the stony track climbs up through trees to the open moor land of the Minch Moor. This is the route which Montrose and his cavaliers fled from Philiphaugh. Tales of buried treasure cling to Minchmoor, dating back to conflicting legends. One tells of Montrose throwing his treasure chest into the dark Mystor pool in Yarrow, telling the Devil to keep it for him until he returned. Another legend says that Montrose cast his chest in at the door of a cottage at Foulshiels before galloping on to the safety of Traquair.............
|Climbing up from Traquair towards the forestry|
Once out of the village the track continues up to a gate, through here we followed the track as it curved sharp left to another gate. Here was a lovely view down into the valley towards Innerleithen and along the Tweed Valley. From here the track starts getting steeper, with forestry on the right and woodland on the left. Through a gateway in an old dry stone dyke, covered in slates written with poems and tributes to horses.
|The track upwards towards the forestry|
|Twisted old oaks on the edge of the forestry|
The path eventually crosses a forestry road and ahead are two paths, take the right hand one. From here are more views to the south west, much more visible now there has been forestry clearing. Onwards and upwards we now walk through woodland regeneration. Where forestry was once planted now birch, pine, juniper and an under growth of ferns and wild flowers are claiming back the hillside.
|Climbing up to Minch Moor|
|Silver Birch and dry stone dykes|
|Taking a break, David and Bracken|
Emerging from the woodland the landscape opens up to the left and ahead. Here you will see the remains of an art instillation cut into the heather. Large circles are deiceiving as they are in fact ovals. This is resolution point. We made use of the bench to rest a few minutes and take in the views.
A little further on is the Cheese Well - a natural spring which has long been a water source for travellers on this old drove route. It was marked on Timothy Pont's map of 1600. Wayfarers often left offerings here - including cheese - to thank the faeries for their safe passage. I left a buttercup flower, an appropriate gift from a gardener I thought.
|The Cheese Well|
Eventually we reached the junction where we left the Southern Upland Way, this is marked with a finger post and another seat. The track headed right and up the hill to Minch Moor. The track is rougher and has suffered some wash out in heavy rain. Climbing up to the summit we were met with clumps of cotton grass, its fluffy heads waving in the slight breeze.
The summit eventually comes into view with the trig point and cairn sitting between small conifers, naturally seeded on the summit. There are great views all around. Along the Tweed valley east and west, south to the Moffat hills and the border beyond. The Eildens near Melrose stand out to the East.
|The summit at last|
|The Cairn, an ideal place for lunch|
|Looking east to the Eildons|
|Angel of the further north!|
We sat on the sheltered side of the cairn and enjoyed our picnic after our climb up. Bracken as you can see considered our picnic his picnic too! The sky started clouding up and a bit of a breeze was making itself known. After enjoying the views, a seat for a while and a wider perspective on what has become a very small world during lock down we headed back down.
|Give me the pie and no one gets hurt|
It's easiest just to retrace your footsteps back down the way you came. We passed a few folk on our walk but it was no where near the busy it usually is with walkers and cyclists. The walk back down was quick and we got the see the views that were behind us on the way up. A very enjoyable afternoon out. It took us about 4 hours and that included a leisurely picnic at the top.
|Starting at the village hall carpark at Traquair|
This is a great, easy walk to fill an afternoon, with great views of the border country at the top. Outwith lockdown and covid there are plenty eating places nearby for a refresh after your walk. There are several cafes and hotel eatieries just along the road in Innerlethen and further west in Peebles.
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