Stage Two - St. Boswells to Harestanes
(8 miles / 13 kms, Max Ascent 450 ft / 130 metres)
St. Boswells Golf Course
Leaving the village of St Boswells, you will go past the clubhouse for St Boswells Golf Course, a 9 hole course which has been in existence for over a century. Crossing the course, you return to the riverbank and go on towards Mertoun Bridge, passing the cauld and the mill. This bridge is an important crossing of the Tweed as the next vehicular bridge downstream is at Kelso - ten miles away. Staying on the riverside footpath means climbing up, over the Kelso road and down the other side to bring you onto the haugh at 'The Fens'. There now follows a pleasant flat stretch, often with cattle grazing, where you can watch the ducks dabbling in the water. Goosanders, black and white ducks, are now common here and seem to spend all of their time scooping up the young fry of trout and salmon. Needless to say they are not at all popular with the anglers of the area.
The Cauld at Mertoun
Leaving the Fens Haugh, the path becomes a narrow, and often muddy track alongside and above the river. Here the banking is so steep that stonework has been built to retain it. Many visitors think that the stonework is the remains of old buildings, but not so - the arched sections simply allow drainage from the banking above, onto the path, unfortunately.
Just to the right of the path you will see two structures of interest - the Crystal Well and the Mule Gin. The crystal well has pure clear water flowing into the bowl, and Hart's Tongue ferns growing around it. The Mule Gin was used to pump water from the river to the big house - Benrig - above. The mule walked round and round, under cover, turning the pumping machinery in the bay next-door. There is little sign now of the Ice-house and the Gasworks which were also there.
Leaving the riverside is the long flight of steps, locally called 'Jacob's Ladder' which takes you up to the path alongside Benrig Cemetery, formerly known as Lessudden Cemetery. Growing on the steps is toothwort - Lathraea squamaria, and, at the top, on the banking, there is Saxifraga granulata, neither of which is common nowadays.
As the path crosses the burn at the bottom, you leave the Parish of St Boswells and enter Maxton Parish. In spring, the right hand side of the steps up to the church is a blaze of wild primroses, while the left reeks of wild garlic.
In front of the church, there is an information board with a brief history of the church, and, next to it, a bench from the old station, on which many a sandwich has been eaten - rubbish to the bin in the car park please!
See also: Maxton Village Web Site.
The Crystal Well
At the top of the church road, there is an information site which doubles as a bus-shelter in which local information is posted, and a bin for rubbish. On wet days the seat inside offers a covered food stop! The water tap along the street offers, in summer, a mains supply for those who wish to top up.
Leaving the main road, you cross the old railway line, and go up hill to join Dere Street, which you will follow almost all the way to Harestanes. Along the way you pass the Grave of Maid Lilliard, will see, on the skyline, the Baron's Folly to the left and the Monteath Mausoleum to the right. For a fair time, in front of you, you will see the monument on Peniel Heugh known as 'Wellington's Pillar'.
After you round Baron's Folly Moss, you walk steadily downhill to Harestanes.