A beautiful circular route by Ettrick Water, return over the hills via Ashkirk.
Selkirk has a number of interesting places, noteably Clapperton Daylight Photographic Studio which has an exhibition of local photographs dating from 1860; the Flodden Monument, carved by Mr Clapperton and Halliwell's House Museum, a row of renovated 18th century houses which also includes an art gallery. Sir Walter Scott's Courtroom can be also visited (afternoons only). Selkirk's link with a turbulent past is the Common Riding in June, when up to 500 riders saddle their horses at daybreak to ride the Marches and re-enact the story of Flodden. Selkirk sent 80 men with the Scottish king and only one returned, bearing a blood-stained English flag.
The town is situated between two valleys, the Ettrick and the Yarrow, both tributaries of the River Tweed. It is popular with anglers from all over the world. The name Selkirk means the church of the shiels and is Anglo-Saxon in origin. The town dates from the first century. Modern Selkirk was built in the 1800's around the textile trade. More recently electronics has gained importance. The population is about 6000, currently it is a manufacturing community with forestry and agriculture. In the past Selkirk was a shoemaking town and capital of Ettrick Forest, a royal hunting ground.
The Ettrick and Yarrow Waters are both tributaries of the River Tweed, joining it north of Selkirk. The area is known historically as Ettrick Forest, though the only real forests around nowadays are newer ones planted by the Forestry Commission. Sheep farming is an important rural activity around here and the familiar black and white border collie is still a working dog. The outward leg of this route, via Ettrick Water, is not particularly hilly, it only starts to become so in the afternoon as you approach Alemoor Loch and then begin the climb towards Ashkirk. It is possible to join the route from Traquair just east of Peebles and this might be an option for those doing the long distance route.
Begin in Selkirk in the town centre by the statue of Sir Walter Scott and proceed downhill signed Bowhill 3, and Peebles/Moffat. Turn left near the bottom of the hill to the B7009, signed Ettrick Bridge. This road is mostly fairly flat, though there is a hill before Ettrick Bridge. Ettrick Bridge is the home of the former Liberal leader and the speaker of the Scottish Parliament, David Steel. There is a story that the original bridge was built after an incident when a baby was drowned when a horse stumbled crossing the river, there is a commemorative stone.
Ettrick bridge was the birthplace of author James Hogg, perhaps not so well known as his friend Walter Scott, his best known work is Confessions of a Justified Sinner. There is a monument nearby and his grave is in the churchyard. The route continues fairly easily until you reach the Tushielaw Inn which is well worth stopping at as they do good bar lunches. Eating would be a good idea as the hills are getting near. The route climbs gently at first through a steep sided glen past Buccleuch, skirting Craik Forest. There's a dip to Alemoor Loch, then another climb, and a steep descent to Roberton where you turn left towards Borthwickshiels. As you start to get higher there are fine views of the rolling border hills. Near the top of the hill there's another road junction where you turn left again, signed Ashkirk.
After a descent to Ashkirk crossing the Ale Water, turn left signed Ettrickbridge, before you reach the A7 main road. Begin another climb over Woll Rigg, signed, Ettrickbridge. After this it's a right turn with lots of descent to reach the B7009 leading back to Selkirk. Selkirk has a choice of pubs and tea rooms, though the latter seem to disappear out of season, the pubs however always seem to be able to produce cups of tea and coffee if requested.