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79. Manor Water

start: Peebles
distance: 36 miles
OS map: 72, 73

Manor Water route mapThis is a superb route, right in the heart of the Southern Uplands. Manor Water threads its way down a quiet valley to the south of Peebles and we take an old right of way that follows a track from Megget Reservoir up to a height of over 570m and then drops down into the Manor Valley giving stunning views of Dollar Law, one of the highest points in southern Scotland.

There's a large car park on the south bank of the Tweed in Peebles. Follow the minor road from here, heading east and passing Kailzie Gardens on the way to Traquair. You'll also pass the Bear Gates which, of course, have remained locked since 1745. From Traquair, take the road south to cross over into the Yarrow Valley. It's quite flat at first, but there's a long pull up to the watershed before a pleasant roll down to the Gordon Arms.

The road to St Mary's Loch can get a tad busy with tourists in the summer and is quite narrow in places. Half way down the Loch, turn right onto the road for Megget. This is a single track road but there isn't a lot of traffic. Climb up to the level of the dam and look for a signposted track on the right - you'll probably need to lift your bike over the gate.

Athletes might well be able to cycle much of this, though the surface is a bit stony and loose. In any event it's a well-defined track and you're not going to get lost. As you climb, the views open out over the rolling hills. There's a high point of about 570m before dropping down quite steeply to cross a stream which disappears down a gully.

From here on the track is grassy. It climbs to start with but levels out at a point that gives dramatic views down into the valley and across to Dollar Law. The crag directly downhill is called Bitch Crag - is there a story here? Pause for a while to take it all in.

Follow the track easily as it drops down the hillside to pass to the left of some trees before crossing a stream by a new wooden bridge. Joining the road now, it's a gentle roll down the valley and there's a choice of routes to get you back to the start... stay on the road, cross Manor Water and take the road going south that leads round past Cademuir before veering round to the north and into Peebles. Alternatively, take the road past Kirkton Manor heading towards the main A72. Just before reaching it, you'll cross the River Tweed and you can pick up a path along the old rail line. The path crosses the Tweed and the rail line then disappears into a tunnel. Instead, take the obvious path down to the left and into the woods alongside the river. You'll have to walk in places, but you'll be rewarded with good views of Neidpath Castle.

Make your way round through the woodland to emerge in a riverside park where the route back to your starting point should be fairly clear.

jb, galashiels

Download GPS data in GPX format.

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