Welcome to a new page on our wee site which will point you in the direction of some great walks based in whole or in part on some classic stretches of the old route. To save you the trouble of having to devise your own itineraries, let Alastair, Mac and Joe stagger to (or from) the curry house on your behalf.
We’ll start with………
Hardie’s Hill Cutting
This is an easy one-and-a-half mile out and back walk starting from Hawick town centre. Free parking is available either side of Garfield Street which runs behind and parallel with the High Street.
From the High Street, head up Cross Wynd (next to the Town Hall) to the junction with Garfield Street. Look for the tarmac footpath on the left heading down onto the old Waverley Route solum. The path has been waymarked by SBC with a steam train logo:
The buildings on the far side of the railway, now a small industrial estate, formed the erstwhile Lochpark p.way depot, which also housed a concrete casting facility producing many familiar items of railway “furniture” such as chipping bins and monument blocks. Richardsons & Sons printers, who produce the Association’s journal, The “Waverley”, are based in the industrial estate, thus keeping a link with the old railway.
Turn right along the old formation and under the road: this is Overbridge 180, known locally as Policeman’s Brae, which was recently refurbished.
The old railway is now on an embankment with a retaining wall on the right, giving good views over towards St. Marys Church and the southern half of the town.
Underbridge 181 crosses high above the street called Mill Path. After passing some stables, our path skirts behind the back gardens of the houses on Slitrig Crescent, with Wellogate Cemetry appearing on the hillside to your left. Towards the end of the embankment, occupation underbridge 182 is crossed. The path becomes narrower here but still well defined, and you’ll find yourself walking on the old ballast with your main obstacles being the six- foot monument blocks which provide a tripping hazard for the unwary.
Vegetation on either side of the path hides the sharp left hand curve which the old route now takes as it enters Hardie’s Hill cutting. The lofty shelf we’ve been enjoying until now gives way to a deep, damp and shaded defile which was blasted out of the solid rock using explosives. Today the cutting is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) as the rare Small Blue butterfly feeds on the kidney vetch which grows there.
All too soon the yawning abyss that was once bridged by Lynwood Viaduct is reached. A flight of wooden steps drops down to the Newcastleton road for those who may wish to make it a circular walk and return to the town centre along the valley floor. The viaduct itself was demolished circa 1982, allegedly because vandals – or “neds” as they’re known in Scotland- were lobbing lumps of ballast off the top: a seemingly trivial reason for breaching the old route in such emphatic fashion. If you look closely to your right as you stand near the edge of the drop, you’ll see a short section of parapet wall and railing that somehow got missed by the demolition men. There was a weir on the Slitrig Water underneath the viaduct, feeding the Mills closer to town.
If the walk has left you in need of sustenance, we heartily recommend the New Deli restaurant on Melgund Place (turn right parallel to the old railway when you reach Garfield Street). Not only does it back onto the old line next to bridge 178, it also does cracking curries at sensible prices plus there’s a bar/ lounge downstairs.